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Double Dragon
Console: Amstrad CPC and compatibles
Developer: Binary Design
Publisher: Virgin Mastertronic (Melborne House?)
Number of Players: 2
Release Date: Late 1988

Story | Codes | Characters


European box

By "Psycho" Steve Halfpenny
Associate Editor


This is a review of the better version of Double Dragon, perhaps the lesser known of two versions available for this format.  It certainly is the one with the more confusing background.  Anyway, this version follows the arcade closely but there are some significant changesMore enemies, more weapons (in amount, not type) and the timer has been changed to minutes.  And just like the NES version, Abobo shows up unexpectedly as you reach the conveyor belt.  Itís also the only decent computer version of the original classic.

Graphics: B-

Very blocky and some important sprites are missing (pick up a box and walk around and only one sprite is used. Highly amusing), but you should never expect Earth-shattering graphics with the old Amstrad.  If you squint your eyes you could be looking at the arcade but this is probably more to do with the colors being so perfect.  I was stunned to notice that unlike the arcade, there is no major slowdown no matter how much is going on.  Nice, fast action and slower but smooth scrolling sure puts the Spectrum version in itís place.  Theyíre all nicely sized too, which makes the tiny sprites of the C64 game look even worse.  I have to say that I have seen better graphics on the Amstrad, but these arenít bad for the time this came out and theyíre still better than the majority of Amstrad games.  One major problem with the graphics: Jimmy Lee looks exactly like Billy, except his jacket is a slightly lighter blue.  As you can guess, this causes major confusion between players, especially if there is a high number of characters on the screen at one time.  I guess you canít win them all.

Sound: B-

The Amstradís sound capabilities were never that hot, but get this: not only do you get some fair hitting noises, but there is in-game music.  Itís an original tune but it works well with the game and is actually quite catchy.  Okay, so itís the same tune that plays on the title screen and throughout the entire game but like I said, the Amstradís sound capabilities were never that hot.  To be fair, they pretty much sucked so itís nice to see some effort here.

Enemies: A-

Theyíre all here.  Some enemies have been given a slight makeover though.  Williams, Lopar and Jeff are really just evil Lee brothers in different colors.  Abobo on the other hand looks absolutely brilliant and very true to his arcade self (though ported from the Atari ST/Amiga version).  As for difficulty goes, this is tough.  Williams, Lopar and Jeff may be dumb (they sometimes throw knives and rocks at each other) but they sure are nasty and because there are so many of them in this version, it's harder than the arcade.  And itís a good thing too, though some may find it too frustrating.

Weapons: A+

It's great to see all the weapons from the arcade game in there, acting like they should might I add.  Also, the programmers have taken it upon themselves to add to the amount of weapons available.  If you recall Mission 1 in the arcade, you had only one Williams with a baseball bat.  Here you have two Williams with bats and one thatís just lying on the floor, ready for any player or enemy to pick up.  This makes the weapons here all the more vital, especially the baseball bat (without it, I always lose at least two credits on the first mission alone).  Add to this the fact that weíre talking about technology below the NES, and there is absolutely no reason why I canít give the weapons here an A+.

Controls and Moves: B+

Tougher to control on a joystick, but not too difficult.  There were never that many moves in the original DD but they are all included there and fairly easy to pull off first time.  One gripe: The flying kick has been slightly changed.  Your character will jump normally and then itís only on the way down that Billy or Jimmy decides to stick out his leg.  Thankfully though, thatís about the only thing wrong with this version of Double Dragon.  Well, except forÖ

Modes: C

There is a great two-player mode spoiled by the Lee brothers looking the same and the fact that you only have four credits to share.  You canít change this and they wonít last long.  No options at all on the, ahem, option screen either (okay, okay, itís just a title screen).  Still, as I said in the C64 version review, it wasnít common for a computer game back then to feature many modes of play.  Maybe I should be grateful for that high score tableÖ


Conclusion/Overall: A-

Popular opinion has always advised one to avoid the computer versions of the first Double Dragon like the plague.  I can see why.  Even more so now since you can play the original arcade game via emulation.  Still, this is one hell of a conversion taking into account the limitations of this machine.  The only downers here are the flying kick and Jimmy now being the identical twin of his brother.  The difficulty will put some people off too and worse still, when you finish the game there is no true ending, just a game over screen.  Other than that, there is nothing else I can really criticize the Amstrad version for.  The multiload?  Expected.  The primitive sound?  Again, totally expected and hey, it has a fairly enjoyable in-game tune.  Abobo doesnít smash through any walls?  Big deal.  As big a Double Dragon fan I was back in 1988, Iím almost grateful that I never saw this version then because I would have almost certainly swapped my C64 and Spectrum for an Amstrad with some dodgy kid.  And that would be like swapping a NES for a Master System.  I thought none of the home computer versions were this good.  Sometimes itís nice to be wrong.