Double Dragon

Rating: D

How many video games do you know of that begin with a girl taking a knuckle sandwich right to the gut? I mean, shit!

Enter a young martial artist and his hunky young counterpart, two young stallions who probably spend most of their time at Bally's Fitness posing in front of full-length mirrors. But now they will exact revenge. What I don't understand is this: the garage door opens and out come these "double dragons" only seconds after the girlfriend is punched in the belly and carried away. How far could the bad guys have traveled at that point, about ten paces? The explanation that will undoubtedly be offered by some is this: "Well, they could have easily caught up to the bad guys but street thugs suddenly interposed themselves, thus barring their way." OK, that sounds like a pretty good explanation, I guess.

So what ensues are countless scuffles and street fights, with the double dragons beating the shit out of anyone who opposes them and taking quite a few good ass-kickings in the process. And what can injure your opponents even more grievously than karate chops or kung fu kicks are knives, baseball bats, and 800-pound boulders, so make sure you pick them up if you have the opportunity. Also, don't hesitate to kick a whip-wielding street hussy right in the face, because God knows she ain't going to be showing you any mercy. Also, if huge black dudes who look like Mr. T come busting out of brick walls, run and look for a baseball bat, otherwise you'll probably get smeared all over the pavement.

The meat and potatoes: The graphics of the Genesis version are faithful to the arcade, though of course they're not quite there. Also does the basic gameplay seem intact, though there are admittedly fewer enemies on the screen at any one time than there were in the original game and everything seems a grade faster: walking, punching, kicking, has all been sped up. Why they did this I'm not sure. Perhaps they thought a faster Double Dragon would be more exciting? Whether or not it's an improvement I don't know, as I can't remember my time spent playing this game in the arcade too well. However, even if it's not, the speed issue would be the least of my complaints. To but it plainly, playing this game is a real CHORE. There, I said it, got it off my chest. As much as I wanted to love this game and relive fond arcade memories, it is in fact a pretty pathetic excuse for ten dollars plus shipping spent. Even the original Streets of Rage (you know, the ugly one) is a far better game than this. Enemy A.I. consists of opponents following your every move like a shadow and you'll get frustrated as your punches miss again and again. Verily, the hit detection in this game is piss-poor, or rather the REQUIREMENTS for hitting an enemy are too stringent: you have to be standing on the same exact plane as an opponent and be at just the right distance. Too close or too far and you won't connect, punch and kick all you may.

To say that this game has crappy controls is an understatement. We're not done though. Another big let down is the sound. Punches connect not with a meaty smack but with an inexplicable swish. Also, gone are the moans and groans of hammered opponents that were present in the arcade version. The whole game has hardly any audio, in fact, save for the swish-swish-swish of baseball bats and fists and the tinny music that will quickly grate on your nerves.

Trust me, if you're thinking of buying this game, don't. One of us already wasted cold hard cash on it, and that's enough. At best, it's a very boring way to spend 20 minutes. Of course if you fondly remember the coin-op version of this game from back in the day, curiosity may get the better of you. Just don't say you weren't warned. And don't be fooled by the above screenshots either. Yeah, this looks like arcade Double Dragon, but plays like total crap. Truly, I couldn't resell this cruddy game fast enough.

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