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I recently obtained a complete copy of Double Dragon for NES. It’s dreamy. Many thanks to Richard for it!
As promised, Double Dragon for the Atari 7800 has finally arrived. Here are some quick impressions: 1. The controls are awkward – not saying they are bad but when you’re used to NES controls you have a specific expectation. 2. The game has spirit of the arcade game – you can feel the programmers put an honest effort into it. 3. More enemies than the NES version… This has three at the same time, the NES had only two. 4. The music is limited and repetitive but its Double Dragon no doubt. More details soon…
I finally obtained a copy of Double Dragon for Atari 7800. I have never played it and have only seen a few seconds of video from it. I am looking forward to the experience but for now I am loving the box art.
Crafted by Activision, this box art is scary in a good way. It has a comic book feel to it – it is really dark and drips of danger. I can’t tell if these guys are truly thugs or washed up members of a metal band. Either way they look as though they just finished off several Heinekens and bags of Corn-nuts.
Marian is going to need more than the morning after pill once these thugs are done working her over. She doesn’t appear to be fighting very hard against her captors and her club-wear was asking for trouble. And I suspect that this is exactly what the defense attorney for the Shadow Warriors (or in this case the Black Warriors) will say.
Peace Vatos! We shall meet for the first time in few days!
If you know me or have invested any amount of time reading this site you know I’m a huge fan of Double Dragon. So being this vested in the series creates an interesting situation for me… do I rate the game compared to the other ports or do I compare it only by the virtues of the limitations of the Atari?
Well believe it or not this is easy. The game is a great port, and all though the characters looks a little funny the spirit of Double Dragon is certainly there. Special moves are done by pressing in a certain direction and then smacking the action button. So you can still punch, kick, jump kick, and elbow smash.
The game has music tracks from the original even though they repeat often. The last thing I want to point out is the one on one mode this is a definate bonus. Recommended!
The year was 1984 and I lived on the east side of Las Vegas. Back then the population was probably around 80,000 where as today its close to 2 million! The city wasn’t developed like it is today and it wasn’t uncommon to see vacant desert lots between pockets of houses and shopping centers. Back then when it would sprinkle in town it would flood and it just so happened that my family and I lived in a duplex in one of the lowest points of the valley.
Needless to say we moved. We were now closer to downtown Las Vegas and took residency in a two story apartment that overlooked the back alley of a Smith’s Food King grocery store, a Sav-On Drugs store, and a 3 unit strip mall that had a hair salon, jewelery store, and copy store.
Smith’s had videogames adjacent to their produce section, and it was here that I’d eventually be introduced to the beauty that is Spy Hunter, Sky Shark, Donkey Kong Jr., Quartet, ChopLifter, Side Arms, and of course Double Dragon. Double Dragon was the first game I remember as having a continue feature that players actually used. Prior to that game I never saw anyone actually ‘continue’. To me, once you lost, you lost! Why would anyone want to continue where you died? Obviously you are at a more difficult point, and whatever game you’re playing is only going to get more difficult! For me it was more economical to move on to a new game, or start over. For me it was all about the amount of time I could play a game, and not necessarily how far I could get into a game.
I was intrigued to watch other kids, older kids, BAD KIDS, play Double Dragon. They were fanatics! Pumping quarter after quarter into the machine, arguing over which enemy each would take on. Back then Sky Shark was my game, and its awesome music was drowned out by the music of Double Dragon. But I didn’t mind! I thought the music was terrific! But as I watched the other kids play Double Dragon I started to notice something strangely familiar.
When I lived on the “east side” it was mostly a sheltered life. I never heard profanity. Never saw graffiti. Never saw a street gang. Moving closer to downtown I saw first hand the lower echelons of society. And from my vantage point of the two story apartment I witnessed Double Dragon live – from my patio – in the alley of the Smith’s and Sav-Ons.
To the left is the alley. The area that is inset is where the strip mall was. The Sav-On’s was the bigger building toward the south, and Smith’s was the bigger one to the north. To the right is a long thin wall, and on the other side of the wall is the apartment where I lived.
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It wasn’t uncommon to see street fights in this alley from rival gangs. Although I never saw stabbings, whippings, or large rocks tossed about I did see trash barrels used as weapons. There was plenty of fresh graffiti in that alley and in the late afternoon hours it would frequented by prostitutes, addicts, and would serve as a convenient place for the homeless to void their bowels.
As I got older I would visit the Smith’s simply to play those games. I’d hop the wall, travel the ‘gangland’, dump my quarters then travel back. All the while imagining the Williams, Rowpers, Linda’s, and Abobos that would have a field day in this alley… until they stepped in a fresh crap.
Double Dragon for Gameboy is one of my most favorite games for the Gameboy and for any game system for that matter. Let’s find out why…
By the time Double Dragon came out game developers appeared to learn how to fully use the Gameboy hardware to create some fantastic games. Despite its small screen this Gameboy version is on par, and in somecases better than it’s Nintendo NES counter part. Above Marian suddenly got hotter, but yeah, she still takes one to the gut! I think I like her better as a blonde with the goods spilling out of the shirt.
Graphically there are several improvements over the NES version including Billy having slick black hair and more pronounced eyes. The levels all have the same theme as the NES and arcade versions. Alley, Industrial, Woods, and Hideout. There are a few extra areas including the bridge that wasn’t in the NES version.
In this version the Lindas have become hotter as well! No more of the Raggity-Ann in coveralls from the NES version. These Linda’s dress as skanky as Marian and they’ve tied their hair back. Too bad they don’t have any eyes.
After entering the door in the first level you run into the same room where you first encounter Abobo in the NES version except there is no conveyer belt and no Abobo! Instead after killing the Rowpers you have to enter another door where you face Abobo in a room with no other obstacles than him. To some degree he is now easier to kill. A few punches and upper cuts will dispatch him, except… Abobo suddenly has remembered his arcade moves where he’ll grab you by the neck, pound your liver, and toss you to the dirt! Sometimes he’s just a little bit quicker and it feels impossible to avoid this punishment! Another thing to look forward to are the Chin-tais who now have an extra move as well. In the NES version they had a punch, and this nasty move where they’d kick your ankle and you’d fall. Now they will do a jump kick backwards to avoid your move, then jump back towards you and kick your chest. When two of them are on the screen its total chaos!
So all in all this is a fantastic version. There is no more ‘heart system’. You have all of your moves from the very beginning. The moves are more balanced and the hit detection is a lot better than the NES version. Especially for the elbows. You can now punch or kick an opponent, turn around, and punch again to deliver a finishing elbow. You wouldn’t dare try that on the NES version. If there was a complaint though it would be the jump kick. Its so slow and labored and will generally miss your opponent. And Abobo will just grab you out of it and feed you knuckles anyways. This is probably a good thing since jump kicks were rarely used in the arcade version, and over used in the NES version.
And finally… the music. It has all of the tracks of the NES version, plus the full track of the Intermission. Which surprisingly the game doesn’t have intermissions! In the NES version the intermission was about ten seconds long and therefore you heard only ten seconds of the Intermission track… this track is one of the best gaming tracks ever, and in the Gameboy version you’ll get to experience the track as part of the game play in the later levels.
Double Dragon for SEGA Master System… It seems many people cite this 8 Bit version of the arcade smash hit as being more faithful to the original vs. the Nintendo NES version. And to some degree this is true if you look at the multi player and nothing else.
Graphically its similar though the Master System version has more colors but less detail. The moves seem more arbitrary and in many cases more difficult to pull off than it’s NES counter part.
But everything is there including the correct music, plus the added bonus of a third enemy on the screen (the NES version never had more than two on the screen at the same time).
There is one more thing that the Master System version has that I have yet to notice in any of the home conversions… Spike and Hammer. These were the names of the characters in the arcade version and the arcade art featured tattoos of a spike and a hammer. Well the box art of the SEGA Master system clearly shows ‘Billy and Jimmy’ with the tattoos!
I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to be re-united with an Atari Lynx. Most people never heard of this gem, and depending on who you talk to some would say the world is better that way. And that’s a shame. The Lynx was revolutionary at the time but limited support pretty much killed it. When it was available I only knew of two stores that carried it: Montgomery Wards, and Toy’s ‘R’ Us. I got mine from Toy’s ‘R’ Us along with Rampage and A.P.B. Since games were sparce and so few stores carried them to begin with I ended up trading mine for a SEGA Master System. Clearly I had brain damage at the time.
Two versions were released, the one shown here is the original launch system just like I had. The revision was a little bit smaller with a few other improvements but obviously not enough to keep it from being forgotten.
The revolutionary aspects of the system are obvious. It had a color screen. It was the first, although SEGA Game Gear often gets the credit. It’s funny to look back on this and think how far we’ve come. Everything now has a colored screen. Cell phones, XM Radio Displays, etc. Certainly the technology has gotten less expensive and easier to manufacture, but for a company to have the guts to try and turn a profit on a colored LCD backlit screen is pretty gutsy.
The flash of the camera distorts the color of the system. It’s a darker grey than what it appears to be here. Note the two sets of buttons on the right. The system can be flipped around for left handed players. Some games required the unit to be held vertically so as to take advantage of a vertical play-field (Like Klax).
The system did look like a bloated monstrosity compared to the original Gameboy and the SP shown here for reference.
Taking a photo of a game in action is a near impossibility. I’m not sure if it’s the back light or the pixel’s themselves, or even the refresh rate but digital cameras don’t play nice with the screen.
But here is where things get very interesting. The screen of the Atari Lynx was much bigger than the Gameboy’s. Almost 1 and 1/2 times bigger. But the resolution was smaller. It had the same width and almost 2/3rd’s the same height! So the sprites and objects on the screen where certainly bigger… but also more blocky! This would require some interesting talent from the programmers which we’ll see why in a moment. But below is a resolution (not screen size) comparison of the original GameBoy, the Atari Lynx and the GameBoy SP:
So with such a tiny canvas to work with, anyone developing for the Lynx would have an enormous challenge ahead of them. Take for example Double Dragon. The Atari Lynx version features spot on graphics. They look very close to the arcade version, but when you compare two screen shots with the same resolution look what happens:
Atari Lynx version of Double Dragon:
The Arcade version of Double Dragon:
The Lynx version is a postage stamp sized ‘sample’ of the play field from the original game! Rygar also suffered in this regard:
But all in all, the Lynx is still a neat system with several unique games that were never available on any of the mainstream systems until emulation became available (APB for example).
Sometimes there is a subtle plot to a videogame that can easily be forgotten or ignored in the action. Double Dragon is one such game. Now depending on the version you’ll usually be treated with a story about a girl being kidnapped in a post apocalyptic nuclear world. That might be true, but the evidence doesn’t support it.
For example why is everything still intact? The skyscrapers in the first level show no damage. The construction site looks a little organized to be rebuilding a destroyed city.
The arcade and Genesis versions have wanted posters so there must be some sort of law enforcement around which asks the toughest question of all: why not call the police? Sure it makes a lousy plot for a game, or maybe its a key to a bigger piece of the plot.
I think Marian is a junkie. Billy and Jimmy are pushers, and the Shadow Warriors are part of some major drug cartel. Why would they hide out in caves or even have a fabulous palace decked out with spikes and dragon heads and other ridiculous crap? Maybe in the Japanese to Engrish translation it was supposed to be like “Double Drag On”… like “Hey Jimmy, take a double drag on this bong.”
Then again, at the end of the day, maybe this is just a story about a kidnapping.