Double Dragon

by Ben Jackson, Danny S. Whelan, David Leitch, Jeremy Nelson, Fernando San Gregorio
Melbourne House
Sinclair User Issue 82, Jan 1989   page(s) 54,55

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

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.

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, Jan 1991   page(s) 56

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

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.

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, Apr 1991   page(s) 35

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

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).

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

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