Review by Raiden

Reviewed: 01/03/03 | Updated: 01/03/03

Short, fun DD game, and a good challenge.

After so many years of originally owning this game, losing it when someone stole it, and back to re-purchasing the game, I can say that as familiar as this game is, I now have a NEW perspective on Double Dragon for Gameboy.

Before I start my review, please let me beg the question: WHY play Double Dragon games in particular? Well, if you like beating up enemies all day, but prefer to do something DIFFERENT now and then, such as avoid traps and such, then the Double Dragon games (the NES ones and this Gameboy game) are the beat-em-up games for you!

I'm not the most knowledgeable DD fan around, but I'll try to explain the plot.

PLOT (5): A band of thugs (the Shadow Warriors?) has broken loose somewhere (Japan?), wreaking havoc throughout the city, and in the midst of it all, beat up and kidnap a helpless young woman, Marion. But this does not sit well with her b/f, naturally: Billy Lee, who happens to be an expert martial artist and one half of the Double Dragon masters. He bears the mark of the Flying Dragon, I believe. So you set out to save your g/f, Marion (Marian in the Japanese version?) from the clutches of the no-good crime syndicate.

In the arcade version, I believe, you face your twin brother, Jimmy Lee, the other 1/2 of the Double Dragons (bearing the mark of the Frozen Dragon?), in a final showdown, probably to fight for Marion's love (why would she go for Jimmy if he's a thug? not likely).

In the GAMEBOY and NES versions, however, Jimmy is already on Billy's side, joining forces, for the sake of letting game players enjoy a 2-player cooperative mode. That's as good a reason as any to make the switch from good to supposed ''evil'' :Þ

There is nothing special about this plot, as basically the exact same main plot point was used in Capcom's 1st Final Fight game, but the characters who rescue the girl are different, by far (except they all love to fight!).

Graphics (8): Call me crazy, but I guess I LIKE Gameboy graphics: even cutesy Double Dragon graphics that are somewhat super-deformed in style, with the big heads; too big for the character's small bodies. Billy looks cool and easily distinguishable from the other characters, as well as does every other character (though there admittedly aren't many characters overall...). The backgrounds, which I often forget to talk about, are pretty nice in their own right. Especially notable about the DD games (as others have said) is the expressions on the characters' faces when they are taking a pounding :) (Putting that smile there seems kinda sadistic...haha.)

Sound/music (8): This time you can REALLY call me crazy, but considering how primitive the sound ''system'' is for the Gameboy, I tend to LIKE the music for most GB games! _Mission_ 1 (haha: mission Kickass) has the catchy DD theme that's been used throughout several of the games that followed it. The end of the final stage has eerie music, though not as scary as I remembered it, and cool nonetheless. It's all ear-pleasing to me! Gotta love that snappy Stage-2 music, even if you wind up noticing how repetitive it is :O

The sound is nice, as you've got the usual punch sounds, and I like the ''oomf!'' sound of a body hitting the floor after being knocked to the ground (I didn't want to end the sentence with a preposition like knocked DOWN.)

Control (8): It feels like deja-vu to type the #8 again but it's pretty good overall. My only complaint is that sometimes the jump kick in the game is a bit ''floaty'', but it's not a big problem: just something you have to practice using. Attacks come out quickly/responsively.

Gameplay (7): Now THIS is the kind of beat-em-up I like! The game is challenging, yet BEATable. I HATE games that make me feel stuck after 1-2 levels, because I don't feel like I've accomplished anything, but on the other hand, I want something challenging to make me feel some pride for beating it (yes: I even like to imagine that it's really ME who beat those baddies).

You fight up to 2 enemies at once on-screen (oh well: Gameboy and nes have limited capacity to handle potential slow-down and on-screen action in general, after all), but this isn't that big a deal :)

What I want to know is, are these guys REALLY martial-arts masters? Billy and Jimmy are supposedly really talented, but look at the moves they do:

1)Grab head and knee bash
2)Shoulder-throw
3)Elbow smash, from behind (for lack of a better name)
4)Jump-kick
5)Punch x3 plus an Uppercut punch
6)Kick x1, followed by a SEMI-Spin kick

Now, I always liked these moves and thought they looked cool, because after all: you want your moves to look COOL in a fighting game, cos stylish thug-thumping is important! But how hard are ANY of these moves to do in real life? ',:|

Shoulder throws take a little skill, I assume, as do SEMI-Spin kicks, which is what the move really is...but that's about it. These guys more closely resemble STREET FIGHTERS than martial-arts masters, doh! I guess Cyclone kicks and other skilful moves are reserved for the later DD games (ok: the Cyclone kick is actually on the NON-realistic side, to hang in mid-air so long)...

You also get weapons occasionally...but they're just an extra and never necessary to beat any enemies.

Besides fighting, though, the HARDest part of the game is dealing with traps, and not only do you have to dodge them, but jump over them (other gamers call them ''pits'' you can fall into), and you EVEN have to scroll the screen along in order to jump your way across some pit areas, by moving as far to the edge of a cliff or the ground as possible before jumping.

Replayability (6): I guess I can't even give this aspect of the game a 7 because the main downfall of this game is it's TOO SHORT! There are only about 6 different enemies in the game, and none are especially hard to beat. Once you get past the traps, there is little left to challenge you. I like playing this game over and over, I confess, and even though my perspective has changed, as I've managed to beat this game fairly consistently without losing a life now, since re-purchasing it, this game is still fun. It's fun, how you can create quite a bunch of your own combos, by switching to punch or kick moves (A- or B-button moves at any time during your combo. I even like to polish off an Abobo now and then with a jump kick as the 4th hit (Punchx3 + JKick instead of all punches), to knock him dow-.....to the ground :D

Overall (7): I almost gave it an 8 but sadly, it's too short. That's sort of a compliment because I enjoyed it and wanted MORE, instead of saying it's lame and I'm glad the journey has ended! DD2 is certainly the longest DD game on Gameboy, but it's a bit easy too. I recommend buying this game since you can get it used, pretty cheap ($10 or less?) at your nearest Gamestop store (online or walk-in stores), or else you'll have to buy it on crappy ebay >:o

YIKES! Why did I write such a long review?!?! I'm done but I'd like to say what's UNIQUE about the Double Dragon games in general, and I'm only counting the side-scrolling
beat-em-up games; not the 1-on-1 Street Fighter-type DD games like the Neo Geo game.

What's SPECIAL about Double Dragon beat-em-ups?
- You can't use ALL of your moves or any weapons on the bosses; GRRRRR! This is because weapons always disappear before you face a boss.
+ You get to face traps/tricks besides beating up people, but these traps are fun and usually can be conquered. Other games have this but not as often :)
+ or - You do NOT get health power-ups! No steak in the garbage can to re-fill your health bar, this time! That can be a + or a -, depending on whether you think it should be allowed in the DD games.
+ You get TWO main combos: a punch combo and a kick combo. If you want punches and kicks in the combo, you can press the punch button, then the kick button, etc.. This is also nice if you don't like punches but like kicks, and vice-versa.

Rating: 7

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