Double Dragon

by Binary Design Ltd: David Leitch, Ben Jackson, Jeremy Nelson, Danny S. Whelan
Melbourne House
Crash Issue 61, February 1989   (1989-01-26)   page(s) 66

Binary's terrible twosome

Producer: Melbourne House
Take-away Price: £9.95 cass
Author: Binary Design

Sosaiken Masters? Never heard of them? Well, all you need to know is; Kung Fu experts, plenty tough. Billy and Jimmy Lee are twin brothers and Sosawhatsit Masters (not to mention relations of Bruce, no doubt). Obviously only a complete and utter nutter would mess with them, and his name's Shadow Boss, the leader of the Black Warriors. He's had Billy's girl Marian kidnapped and hidden in his hide-out...

The brothers' high-kicking quest takes them through city streets, warehouses, forests, mountains and caverns. Ranged against them are six villainous types, including the machine gun-armed Shadow Boss himself. Initially the villains may attack singly, but most often two or three take on our heroes. Unarmed they're easy meat - except the massive Abobo - but pretty soon they've got knives, baseball bats, whips and oil drums. If knocked to the ground, villains drop their weapons, which you should grab swiftly. Knives and oil drums are thrown, while the bats and whips are held to bash enemies. Lives are lost when energy falls to zero, but if there's a credit left, fire brings you back to life. If only one player is taking part the enemies remain the same, but then there's no-one to share credits with and 'accidentally' bash you.

The game is made up of five levels, two which are split into two loads making seven loads in all. Once a level is finished you may choose to replay it, for practice or points, at the cost of a credit per player. There's no advantage for 128 owners and the multiload is both slow and cumbersome.

Gameplay is very much like Target; Renegade, but much easier - Phil's already completed it. Background graphics are both varied and quite good, but character graphics are disappointing. Sound effects are muffled thumps with a noise like a plastic mouse being squeezed for the screams of the whip wielding (these Assistant Eds get up to some strange things when mice are involved - Ed). Entertaining for an hour or so, Double Dragon's appeal soon wears off.

STUART [62%]

Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: animation is a bit jerky and backgrounds over-colourful
Sound: no tunes, only simple biffing, groaning and squeaking effects
Options: one or two players

Yawn, another mediocre beat-'em-up. Once you're in the right position on screen you can kill all your opponents in a few swift strikes. This is a pity as there's an unusually large variety of weapons, including boulders you can drop on your opponents. Backgrounds graphics are good, but there's a lot of colour clash. Must try harder, Binary Design.
NICK [69%]

The best bit about this game is how, in two-player mode, you injure your colleague - in which case he's likely to return the punch (in real life!). The various fighting sprites move fairly jerkily, although enemies such as the Frank Bruno and Mel Croucher lookalikes are well drawn. Sound is also weak no tunes whatsoever. Travelling through the levels is initially fun, especially with a friend to help you, but the real problem with Double Dragon is that it's far too easy. When you've completed it - on about the second attempt - you're unlikely to return to it.
PHIL [60%]

Presentation: 66%
Graphics: 64%
Sound: 55%
Playability: 63%
Addictive Qualities: 64%
Overall: 64%

Summary: General Rating: Nothing special, even with the two-player mode, and too easy to have much lasting appeal.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 87, April 1991   (1991-03-21)   page(s) 50

Mastertronic Plus

Dodgy beat-'em-up for one or two players. Bash through levels full of armed attackers to rescue your girlie.

Overall: 42%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 38, February 1989   page(s) 42,43

It's as if these Eastern types didn't have anything better to do all day. I mean, all we seem to hear about is them dashing about, laying into each other with kicks, headbutts and other assorted acts of violence. Distinctly unsporting, and probably completely untrue too.

But whatever the reason, they're at it again. Once again the dimly-lit backstreets of the city echo to the sound of arms being dislocated, kneecaps being cracked and plans for future generations of karate trainees being abruptly terminated. And as usual it's all over a woman. Yup, a damsel in distress, being held prisoner by the Black Warriors. Squawk! Sexism! Just as well we Spectrum owners are a pretty unimpressionable lot.

As we previewed this one many millennia ago, I don't need to mention that it's a conversion of the very juicy coin-op, it multiloads (even on 128K) and it's possible to have two players doing it at once (hence Double y'see). Or that it pits you against literally(ish) billions of different assailants, all armed to the tonsils and bitterly opposed to your policies regarding the rescue of the aforementioned damsel.

It was also pointed out that the graphics are quite good. Sort of 3D. with bits you can climb up, in order to leap down onto your opponent with a toenail-curdling scream. (You have to supply that, as the sound FX are pretty seedy.)

As is normal in predicaments of this type, the only way to tackle the game is to battle through a number of scrolling levels. Five actually, although a couple of them are broken down into two loads. Due to the system of 'credits' used, losing your last life doesn't necessarily mean packing it in, dumping the computer out the window and going off to soothe your fevered brow with an iced Ribena. Just press fire, watch your score reset to zero and carry on the fight. This means you should get to see most of the levels without too much hassle, although, as in the arcade, you tend to run out of ten pees at the crucial moment.

You'll remember that I said there were quite a few baddies to contend with. Well there are, and quite a few of them come armed with an implement which, if left in their hands, could cause serious remodelling of your anatomy. The answer is, of course, a wellplaced kick in the fruit counter. This causes them to be parted from their weapon so you can use it for your own enjoyment. Once in possession of their knife, whip or whatever you're in with a much better chance of success, particularly against those big guys who just never seem to give up.

Ho-hum, you're thinking. So what? I've been beating the egg fu-yung out of ninjas for years, what's so special about this one? Ah ha, well the fun doesn't really start until you get one of your chums to come round and plug himself into joystick port two. Then you can distract one of the baddies while your accomplice nips round and gives him one on the botty. Much more relaxing than being out-numbered 89 to one and getting duffed up before you've even had a chance to work out which bloke you're s'posed to be in control of.

It's a perfectly respectable conversion of the coin-op, on the whole. Nice to look at, great to play, even greater with two players, and plenty of levels to load in if you're into desecrating your tape-deck.

A generally competent beat em-up, and one you're likely to return to again and, er, again.

Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Summary: Beat and slash like you've never done it before! And try the game too. It's a cracker!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 62, February 1991   page(s) 52

Yes, it's a beat-'em-up, yes, it's the conversion of that rip-roaring horse-eating arcadester of the same name, and, no, viewers, it isn't that good.

As this one is more of a street-fight punch-up the moves are rather more below the belt (some directly below it in fact) than in some beat-'em-ups. In other words, no one's going to mind the odd punch in the head, or knee in the unmentionables (so long, of course, as it's not their head or unmentionables that's getting the treatment). Once nice bit is that everything's done in a realistic sort of 3D walk-into-the-screen sort of a way with plenty of opportunities to interact with the scenery, so you can climb up some of it, pick bits up and chuck it at people, as well use the weapons dropped by baddies. It's not too bad as it stands, but its main problem is that it just gets too boring too soon, even when playing with a friend. Oh, and the graphics are a bit shoddy and it's multiload. Ho hum Right, what's next? (That's your lot. Ed) Oh.

Overall: 70%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 82, January 1989   page(s) 54,55

I hope you haven't been holding your breath waiting for this one, because 1) you'll probably have gone blue and died by now, and 2) it wasn't worth the wait. Double Dragon is NOT going to go down in the record books as one of the best-ever coin-op conversions. Far from it.

You probably know the plot; it's a martial arts romp in which one or two players can fight to overcome the vicious street gang of the Shadow Boss. As you move through the horizontally-scrolling streets from one section to another, you'll have to overcome a variety of enemies fighting in different styles and with different weapons. If you hope to overcome the baddies, you'll need to take some weapons off them to aid you in your fight.

If you've seen Renegade and Target Renegade, you'll get the idea immediately; Target Renegade, especially, is very much like Double Dragon, but the Spectrum conversion was so much better that there's no real comparison.

So what's wrong with DD? For a start, the colour scheme is pretty badly worked out. Because you can move "in" and "out" of the screen, as well as left and right, the characters clash with the backgrounds to such an extent that half the time you're fighting people with green heads and yellow trousers. This is off putting enough, but the backgrounds are poorly designed too, and the perspective is off in several places. What's more, the sprites are rotten; everyone's got a head like a squashed potato, and they all look more like Mormons than street thugs, the whip-wielding bimbos included. The throwing knives look more like sausages, and the clubs like carrots.

What's worse, though, is that control of the characters is so poor. You have a wide variety of fighting moves, including head butt, jump kick, punch, mid-kick and so on. The trouble is that your character responds so sluggishly that your enemies can quite easily trap you between them and just keep knocking you down every time you stand up. It's not much consolation that you can often do the same to them once you've managed to shake them off, turn around and get into position for a good punch or whack with a club.

It takes two or three hits to make a character fall, depending on what weapon you're using. You have five falls in each life, but because you start with five lives, it's pretty easy to plug away and get as far as, say, level 3B, the Forest, without exerting much effort. There are five levels in all; City, Factory, Forest, Hideout Exterior and Hideout Interior. In the last level you'll meet the Big Boss, armed with a machine gun.

So, what a pity. This could have been a great game - it's certainly great fun in the arcades. This conversion though captures little of the excitement of the original. Poor show.

Label: Melbourne House
Author: Binary Design (David Leith)
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Graphics: 57%
Sound: 42%
Playability: 50%
Lastability: 45%
Overall: 51%

Summary: Disappointing two-player karate koin-op konversion.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 107, January 1991   page(s) 56

There are punchy-kicky games and there are punchy-kicky games; and then there are slappy-poofy games, and in my opinion (as a fearless screaming ninja death-deater), Double Dragon qualifies as one of the latter.

If I remember correctly, when I reviewed this as a full-price game, screams of outrage greeted my less than enthusiastic review. I don't regret a lot of what I said then, 'cos as far as I can see practically every other beat-'em-up on the market is better than Double Dragon in one way or another.

The plot is pretty familiar: fearless ninja warrior fights his way through several horizontally-scrolling backgrounds, beating up all sorts of thugs. The gimmick in this version of the theme is that there's a simultaneous two-player option, which is a big help when you're being attacked from both sides and don't know which way to turn.

The big problem is that the graphics are less than mean; the backgrounds are fairly uninspired, but the characters look more like train-spotters on their day off than fearless hard-nuts. To make it worse, the animation is slow, and the actual fighting moves are so pansy as to defy belief - the vicious headbutt looks more like you're puckering up for a big snog, the flying kick looks more like something Rudolf Nureyev might do as a warm-up, and the brutal face-punch is more like a girlie hand-bag slap.

Though there are some consolations though, like the barrel-throwing giants and the whip-wielding naughty ladies, on the whole even the attractions of a budget price shouldn't tempt you to try Double Dragon if you have anything else in the same line - Renegade, Target Renegade, Dragon Ninja, practically anything.

Label: Virgin
Price: £2.99 Cass 48K
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Graphics: 50%
Sound: 60%
Playability: 55%
Lastability: 60%
Overall: 54%

Summary: Very poor Vic. Don't be tempted if you already have anything similar.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 110, April 1991   page(s) 35

When Double Dragon first appeared I was very, very generous and awarded it 51%. Despite the fact that this led to me being stoned in public (and not for the first time,) - by outraged fans of this coin-op conversion, I insist that time has certainly not improved this second-rate bash-'em-up, and you would be ill-advised to spend your money on it when you could get a large bag of jelly babies and the latest issue of The Golden Age of Ballooning for the same money.

The basic idea is fine; one (or two, hence the title) fearless ninja warriors battle their way through hordes of kung-fu thugs in order to rescue some bimbo who has thoughtlessly allowed herself to be kidnapped by the Big Boss (these women honestly, you can't rely on them, etc etc.)

As you hunt through the horizontally scrolling scenes of urban decay you can find boxes, rocks, oil-drums, knives, baseball bats and whips with which to fight off the knifemen, boxers, martial artists and whip-wielding bimbos you come up against. Without a weapon you have to rely on the usual selection of punches, kicks, elbow-blows and leaps to fight them off.

Trouble is, the graphics are complete ponk (people have heads shaped like potatoes, and the knives look like cucumbers), the animation and scrolling are jerky yawn-makingly slow, the use of colour is so ill-planned that there's constant colour-clash, and the fighting moves are unimaginative.

There are a couple of decent points - some of the background details are fairly good, and some of the baddies are nice. But on the whole, there are many better bash-'em-ups - for instance, Target Renegade walks over Double Dragon (then jumps up and down on its head).

Label: Mastertronic Plus
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £2.99
Program By: Melbourne House
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Graphics: 50%
Sound: 54%
Playability: 50%
Lastability: 54%
Overall: 51%

Summary: I don't like it and I don't care, I don't like it and I don't care, I don't like it and I don't care - if you like it, you're a banana.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 113, April 1991   page(s) 72

Spectrum £2.99

Blurgh! This rather cruddy conversion of the hit coin-op was slated when first released, and it's not much better even at budget price. Unless you were nuts about the coin-op, or just nuts, leave it be!

Overall: 56%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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