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Double Dragon
Console: Commodore 64
Developer: Binary Design
Publisher: Melborne House
Number of Players: 2
Release Date: Late 1988

Story | Codes | Characters


American box

By "Psycho" Steve Halfpenny
Associate Editor

Note: I could only find a cracked version (i.e. free and cheated) of this game, so obviously the credits on the intro screen above were not like that in the official release.  I do apologize to the real programmers who were originally credited.


Back in the late 80s the rule was very different from today yet very simple.  If you were an arcade game you were going to be converted to a home computer.  Software houses would attempt to recreate a popular coin op to the home systems as accurately as possible so as to not upset the arcade fan base.  Most people owned nothing more than an 8-bit computer so this was obviously not an easy task.  But, if you did own one of these 8-bit wonders of nature and arcades were your thing, you were usually better off with a Commodore 64.  I did say usually…

Graphics: C+

Well, it looks like Double Dragon doesn’t it?  These graphics aren’t exactly great though, not even for the C64.  I give some credit to the guys who did the backgrounds, they’re very recognizable.  The sprites aren’t so good though.  Some of them don’t look right at all.  For example, when a character is knocked down it looks like he is reduced to rubble when we all know that enemies should be falling on their backs.  Also, there is a "gap" in between all of the fighters.  Believe it or not the programmers actually apologized for this in the game’s manual.  I really believe there were two separate groups doing this game, the first did the backgrounds and the second did the sprites and in-game stuff, but more on this theory later.  Overall though, the graphics are okay.

Sound: D+

I almost put N/A here.  Okay, so it’s not that bad.  The Mission 1 tune is in there.  The problem is, it only plays on the title screen.  Hell, even if the developers had just put this tune throughout the whole game it wouldn’t be so bad.  Instead, what you get throughout the game is… nothing.  This really ruins the atmosphere.  Actually, I do tell a lie, you get a nice Mission 1 type jingle after you complete a mission but there is just no point to this at all.  The sound effects are terrible too.  Considering how loud most C64 games were, there is just no excuse for this.  Does punching and kicking really sound like that?  It was terrible in 1988.  Now it’s beyond a joke.


Enemies: D+

Terribly easy to beat, but most of them are here: Williams, Linda, Abobo (including the green Abobo)  and Willy at the end (with the gun but he sure has never used it on me).  Jeff has taken a vacation.  There aren't enough of them too, and they don’t appear when they should.  For example, in Mission 1 you’ll expect Linda to come through her door (which has been put there backing my theory that the backgrounds and the actual in game activities were done by two separate groups) or even better, Abobo smashing through the wall.  But they don’t.  Linda just walks on like she missed her queue and Abobo, well… like Mission 2’s end boss, he doesn’t even bother turning up (I could give a lot more examples here).  Another major problem is they’re all pretty much the same.  Even Abobo’s throw has been removed (sob) though he is slightly harder to beat than the others despite being the same size (blasphemy!).

Weapons: D-

The only weapons present are the baseball bat and the whip and they’re exactly the same.  Plus, they’re as powerful and reach as far as your fists.  I should also point out the stupidity of the way Billy or Jimmy swing a weapon.  I can’t even attempt to explain it, you really have to see this for yourself.  No, actually, you’re better off if you don’t.

Controls and Moves: D-

Oh dear.  This is where Binary Design really messed up.  No offense if you’re reading this (yeah, likely), but a question to the converters: how many times did you play the arcade game?  It seems that the programmers have completely forgotten about the throw and the “hair-grab-kicks” to the stomach which pretty much reduces Billy and Jimmy’s repertoire to a punch, a kick, a pointless head butt and um… actually, the flying kick seems to be missing too.  Pushing up and fire only seems to make your character jump in a semi-flying kick that does not inflict any damage to your opponent at all.  Maybe it’s just a jump.  It’s hard to tell with these sprites.  Look guys, I know the C64 only used one button joysticks but you could still manage to do either a jump or a flying kick in the other home computer versions (at least the ones I’ve played).  Not that you’ll need to bother with this move anyway.  Just put your joystick on auto fire and you’ll soon finish the game.  Punch, punch, punch, punch… That’s all you’ll need.

Modes: N/A

Different game modes were practically unheard of in computer conversions so this is pretty much expected.  The two player mode is in there though, but alas, no battle over Marian at the end.

Conclusion/Overall: D-

You could make a decent beatemup for the C64, I owned a few.  Double Dragon was not one of them.  If it wasn’t for the Atari 2600 version, this would be the worst version I have ever played.  The arcade wasn’t exactly the hardest game ever but it was tougher than this.  Fighting is not tapping one button until your opponent dies.  Also, being a C64 you have to load in each mission, and Missions 3 and 4 are split in two, but it just isn’t worth the wait.  It wasn’t in 1988 even.  Again, I really think that the team (or person in all likelihood) who did the backgrounds didn’t do the in-game sprites or programming because it just doesn’t seem to fit at all.  I mean, the conveyer belt is in there, it just doesn’t move.  Unless you’re obsessive like me, don’t bother playing this one.