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Double Dragon
Console: Commodore 64
Developer: Technos Japan Corp.
Publisher: Ocean
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: Late 1991

Story | Codes | Characters


By Cloudmann
Contributing Writer


Apparently Europeans really liked themselves some Commodore 64 goodness.  Well into the mid-'90s, games kept coming out on the aging beast.  Some were fresh games, some were ports and others, like this game, were redone arcade ports.  Every C64 owner knew the pains of playing Double Dragon at home.  Despite the Commodore's superior sound and great graphics potential, the Commodore's long anticipated port of DD sucked.  It sucked and left a bruise.  Looking to improve on that port and release a decent version of DD for the beige monster, Technos licensed Ocean to publish the latest version of a now 4-year-old game after two sequels were already out and ported while a fourth game was right around the corner.  Largely, Ocean succeeded in improving on the the first craptacular title, but threw in new mistakes.  Whether it was these or the C64's own virtually dead market in the states that killed production outside Europe, we'll never know.  But one thing's for sure: this port is a lot better than the original.

Graphics: B+

These aren't the best C64 graphics I've ever seen, but things look reasonably sharp, there's good use of color and though the levels differ in structure here and there from the arcade version, those parts that are faithful look generally well done.  Sprites (all three of them) are less blocky than Commodore's DD II port, and color is also used well here.  Overall, a really well-done effort.  Things look a lot cleaner and more colorful here than in the other DD I C64 port; characters are larger, color is used to a better effect and the characters don't look ridiculous (like the Lee brothers who really were brothas in the other port).

Sound: B

There's a myth about the C64 and I'm unfolding it right now.  Yes, the Commodore was capable of fantastic sounds, particularly digitized effects, but the all-mighty SID was crippled in one important way: it had only three channels.  If you wanted great sounding music you digitized and killed a lot of disk space and memory (Turbo Outrun, anyone?), made use off all three SID channels for music that sounded generally gorgeous (Last Ninja series), didn't use music at all and dedicated all channels to SFX, or settled for one effects channel and two music channels, having mediocre sound and music.  This game gives you the option of picking SFX or music from the menu.  While the SFX leaves something to be desired, they sound pretty decent and the music, while no masterpiece, sounds better than most C64 tunes and is actually pretty faithful to the arcade in terms of pitch and tempo.  Some of the instruments sound a bit funky, though.  Not bad, just funky.  Overall, a pretty decent effort with more than adequate results.  This is the route the other C64 DD I port should have taken, not that it would have saved that dung-pile.

Enemies: D

I'm not sure which Commodore port of this game is worse in this regard.  There are three, count 'em, three character sprites used in this game.  One for Billy, one for a generic thug and one for Abobo.  That is it.  No Linda, no Willy, no Jeff.  Come on.  Even the Atari 7800 threw in Linda and Willy.  If not for the fact that the characters in this port, unlike in the other C64 port, have distinct moves that inflict different types of damage, the other port would be better.  Willy is replaced with a generic thug (with no machine gun, incidentally), no end-level bosses are present, there's absolutely no trace of Linda and Jeff is MIA.  Effectively, you fight two characters throughout the game, some which have to be pummeled a bit more.  Because in the other port all characters fought the same but only looked different, this game wins out marginally.  On the bright side, I kind of like Abobo in the shades.

Weapons: D

One weapon only: the bat.  Thankfully, it's useful in that it gives you an instant knockdown and extended range.  This was done a bit hurriedly, and it really shows.  No knife, no whip, no barrels, no boxes or boulders.  Not even Willy's gun makes a cameo.  At least we got something.

Controls and Moves: C+

Here this game positively shines over the other port, and this is pretty sad.  There are only two gripes.  Both of them are pretty large unfortunately.  One, collision is a bit shoddy, so sometimes hitting an enemy doesn't actually hit them.  The other is that you have to press the spacebar in order to jump.  Let me tell you that sucks.  On the plus side, you and the enemies have different moves that actually do different things.  That in itself is a Hell of a lot better than the other port, but the two oversights really hurt the game.  What were the coders smoking when thinking that the spacebar is even a useable control in a game like this?  Thankfully, you won't have to use it often.  Elbow smash the thugs, kick at Abobo.  Before you know it, you win.

Modes: C-

Jimmy apparently is laid up with a hangover or something in this game, because it's only one player.  One player only?  What the Hell is this?  I thought Technos caught enough flak about NES DD I being only one player to learn from this.  DD II and even DD 3 for the C64 were released a couple years before this and they were both two player.  Even the crap-pile that was the other DD I port had two-player.  Aside from two players though, the arcade version didn't have any other options, so I really can't give this game the lowest marks for this.

Conclusion/Overall: C+

I tried to give this game higher marks, but DOUBLE Dragon is supposed to be a two-player game.  That, combined with the shoddy collision, the many missing characters and the freakin' jump controls really hurt the game.  If any two of these things were fixed, the game would rate damn-near an A.  Too bad more time wasn't spent on it.  That said, it's still loads better than the other C64 port.  I still have nightmares about that one.