Classic Beat’em Up Action
Double Dragon is a classic series that stood tall on NES and in the arcade. Atlus has decided to bring the classic game play back on the GBA but many of the old (and new) problems still exist.
Double Dragon probably reached its apex with Double Dragon 2 on NES, but each sequel brought something slightly new to the table. Pretty much the only way to tackle a game like this is join the adventure with a friend. The co-op two-player mode is what made the DD series take shape.
This GBA pak is made up of old and new levels along with a few new modes of play. The players once again take control of Billy and Jimmy Lee and have to stop the evil gangs to get their girlfriend back. This game is a simple beat’em up similar to BattleToads. Players must punch and kick their way through the game. “A” and “B” are used to punch and kick while “R” jumps and “L” blocks. This is a simple control scheme that works for this game. If you attack an enemy, you can perform combos by rapidly pressing an attack button. Also, it is possible to grab and throw the enemy if you are within proper proximity.
Unique to this version of Double Dragon is the number of ways to play through the game. First, the game can be tackled solo. In this mode, the player simply controls one of the Dragon brothers. Next, it is possible for one player to play as both the brothers at the same time. While this mode is new, it is very clunky to play. Both brothers are on the screen but you only control one at a time. The player can switch between players at will through the Select button. However, just because one character is not being controlled doesn’t mean that enemies won’t attack him. It can be a bit much fighting as two brothers. Plus, when the screen scrolls, you will have to move down the screen as one brother then switch to the other and do the same. This just takes time and is rather difficult to fully utilize. The preferred mode of play involves the use of two game paks. Linking two game paks on two GBAs with a link cable is the best and easiest way to play. Co-op play with two players should always be the main point of any Double Dragon.
Like all the other Double Dragons, this game still retains most of its problems. Since this game is built around fighting, the jump feature just seems to be added in as an afterthought. There are times when players must jump over simple pits or rivers. Jumping is very sloppy an inaccurate. It is impossible to avoid cheap deaths by falling into a river or jumping into a pit. Gamers will lose many, many lives trying to jump over an obstacle.
The fighting in this game can be absolutely brutal. Once the enemy AI manages to knock you down, they make sure you stay there. Getting back up is very difficult at times. The enemy’s ruthless AI will make you scream as you lose another life simply because the enemy would not let you stand back up. This is why you need two players. One person must always watch the other’s back. But, there is no option to turn friendly fire off in two-player mode. This means that either player can hit his friend so you need to take a bit of caution when playing co-op. The game’s difficulty can be adjusted in the options menu, but the game will always seem to find a way to win.
Unfortunately, after a few levels, the game will start to grow boring. Killing a never-ending onslaught of gang members will start to grow weary by level three or four. The game does its best at trying to prevent this from happening through the use of combo moves, throws, blocks, boss battles, and using different weapons. All these things make for a great Double Dragon game, but you can’t stop the inevitable boredom train from rolling down its tracks, especially when playing one player. If you do manage to somehow beat the merciless AI, I don’t see any reason to go back and play this game.
The graphics in this game have received an upgrade from the stocky NES characters. But while the graphics have been improved, they in no way push the GBA hardware to the limit. Classic battle tunes will also play throughout the game. Simple “Ooofs” and other grunting effects will sound when you or an enemy has been hit. There really isn’t much to say about the graphics and audio other than it is average.
This Double Dragon game is good for a trip down memory lane. The solo single player mode is very challenging and the single player double mode is very quirky. The only way to truly play this game is through the multipak link cable option. The game will frustrate players through its cheap deaths by the ruthless AI and inconsistence jump feature. Then the repetition will sets in after a few levels, ultimately sending this game’s replay value into the sewer. However, if you are a hardcore Double Dragon fan, this game will certainly please as it is a decently remade port. And keep your eye out for Atlus’ remake of River City Ransom.