DOUBLE DRAGON / Technos / Arcade (Neo Geo)

'Double Dragon for the Neo-Geo is an odd thematic mix of the 1994 live-action movie and the previous arcade games in the franchise. The character roster is taken from the movie, and there's little still shots and video clips of it throughout, but the actual visual design is more like the previous games in the series.

The game is a fun, fast-paced fighter for the casual fan of such games. It probably had no business being any good given the pedigree of the movie and glut of 1-on-1 fighters of the time, but Technos put enough time into it to make it decent. It looks good on the whole, music and sound are very decent, there's some detailed and colorful backgrounds and the gameplay is smooth and responsive.

As mentioned, the roster is mostly characters from the movie, which means not all the fighters here are inspiring. There's enough overlap between the movie and the previous games in the series to keep it interesting, though. Naturally, Billy and Jimmy head up the cast, looking like a couple of sweatsuit-clad slackers until their transformation move (more on that later) puts them in something more resembling their iconic Double Dragon outfits. Marian has also been remade ino a fighter in this one, as well as having been given a younger look and an epic bod (and a skin-tight outfit) in the requisite pander to the young male audience. You've also got Burnov, the first boss of the NES version of Double Dragon 2, and the classic Abobo, though he sports a new "mohawk punk" look here and bloats up disgustingly using the finest in mid-1980s special effects. There's even a ninjer who looks and moves a bit like Hanzo/Ranzo from Double Dragon 3, though apparently he's a movie character too.

The game mostly plays like a standard one-on-one fighter, but with a number of idiosyncracies. The first is the aforementioned "transformation" moves - landing hits builds up a Charge meter, and when it's full you can mush some combination of buttons (helpfully provided to you by the game after you select each character) to turn your character into a supercharged version that can execute more powerful special moves. Also, rather than having designated punch and kick buttons, the four buttons each simply represent a strength/speed of attack, which changes depending on the current position of the character. You can double-jump with most characters, and do multiple attacks in mid-air, and counter hits usually dizzy the opponent automatically. If they get dizzied on a knockdown, they'll stay on the ground for the duration of their dizzy period, and you can attempt a giant jumping stomp attack on them before they get back up. Some of the stages also have a lulzy intro sequence where the opponent is just minding their biz and your character suddenly flies in and wrecks their shiz - the best is Billy and Jimmy's dojo where the Dragon Twins' unfortunate sparring partner gets pwned in the face every time a match jumps off.

If Technos hadn't been put under the restriction of trying to promote the movie with this one, I wonder how much better it would have come out - more characters from classic Double Dragon games and better visual designs, classic backdrops, etc. Still and all, they didn't do a bad job with it under the circumstances. You rarely see good reviews for this game, which I think is an artifact more of weariness of fighting games when this came out in 1995 combined with the incredible suckitude of the movie than an accurate commentary on the actual quality of the game. It's a pretty good fighter.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video