Retro Profile: Double Dragon (NES)

Double Dragon started out, as many brawlers did, in the arcade. Not too long afterwards, it made its way onto many console mediums. The NES, of course was one of them and it turned out to be a big success, despite some of the limitations of the programming. Technos is very well known by many gamers as the father of Double D. In fact, Technos played a major roll in helping the brawler genre to explode in popularity in the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s. I myself, vaguely remember playing this game back in the early 90’s, but I didn’t really pay the game too much attention at the time. One of the things that did stick out in my head was the music at the title screen. Go figure.

Right off the bat, you know this game is serious about kicking butt and loving it. You start off punching and kicking your way through the thugs that stand in your way. The game features a rather interesting level-up system, represented by hearts. Every punch and kick counts as experience points, and when you reach 1000 points, you will gain a heart, when in turn means that you will have a new move that you can execute. Some may find it to be a bit annoying at first, especially to those familiar with the arcade version. But that feeling will soon wear off once you acquire enough experience points. Soon, you’ll find your self jump-kicking, elbowing, and throwing your enemies around more often than not. Your enemies however are no pushovers, though. Even the weakest of thugs won’t back down without a good fight and if you take then too lightly…you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Make no mistake…this game is quite challenging beyond stage one.

The game can be a little frustrating at times with the cheap hits from the enemies…especially Abobo (the big bald mean looking guy). Sometimes the enemies have a better reach over you, which make it a challenge at times to land just one hit on them. This goes double (no pun intended) for people who may be accustomed to the more balanced feel of games like Streets of Rage 2. But to be honest, it’s nothing that can’t be overcome with a little practice and a lot of patience too. It’s well worth the effort, though.

Something that helped this game to stand out from the rest of pack was the obvious focus on using weapons against the enemies that originally wielded them. For instance, should a bat-swinging thug attempt to lay the “bat down” on you…you can beat him down causing him to drop it. Pick up his bat and feel free to show ’em how it’s done. Is there a dude throwing a knife at you? Take it from him and show him why he shouldn’t play with sharp objects. You’ll even have a few things lying in the street that you can use for a weapon like, barrels and heavy boxes. The only trade off is that Billy will move slower when he’s lifting such hefty things, so watch your back.

Play or Stay? If you can get over some of the minor annoyances of the game, you’ll probably find yourself giving it a go once and awhile…until you pick up the sequel anyway. You can find this game at most any used game store that sells NES games. It has yet to show up on the Wii’s Virtual Console, but it would only make sense for Nintendo add it in eventually. I’d say it’s worth the 500 points.

Jamie Alston is somewhat of an unusual gamer. While most people crave the visual delights that can be found in many of the current generation consoles of today, he actually prefers the 8-bit & “super 8-bit” (SNES) glory days of yesteryear. This is probably due in part to the fact that his brother chose the Nintendo Entertainment System over the Sega Genesis back in 1989…or maybe it had more to do with that time when he fell and hit his head on the blacktop in elementary school. Whatever the reason might be, Jamie has an undying love for those unnecessarily big cartridges he spent so many summer afternoons playing. When he’s not raiding trucks that “have started to move” for rations and key cards, he stays busy supporting his gaming hobby by working as a Policies & Procedures Analyst for a financial company in Baltimore, Maryland. And when he’s not working for “the man”, he’s working on the next retro review for the week. And when he’s not fighting off writer’s block and much needed sleep, he’s raiding trucks that “have started to”—well, you get the idea. Currently living in Randallstown, MD, Jamie sums up his life long dream this way: “If I one day find myself driving on the highway in a 2004 Honda Accord with an NES directional pad for a steering wheel, you can bet that I’ll be holding the up direction for that turbo boost on the straight-aways. That’s when I’ll know that I’ve finally made it in life”.