When the last generation home consoles were released, downloadable games came into their own and lots of original titles and retro remakes became available for these systems. Enter this generationís console, and the trend continued with redoubled efforts as broadband internet was now the norm. More games were ported, and Double Dragon was no exception. Unfortunately, it was made available for only one system, the Xbox 360. That said, the direction that Razorworks took in developing the title was a simple one: emulate the arcade game and bring it home with a few enhancements. These include achievements and an optional graphical facelift. But nothing else was added. It was a half-hearted enhancement, but at least this brought Double Dragon to a modern console. Itís unfortunate that Empire Interactive folded, because the game was pulled from XBLA after that. Now it canít be purchased, which is too bad, as it cost 400 Microsoft Points, or $5. How did it fare as a console port? Read on.
There are a few different angles to grade this from. The first one is pretty much a superfluous point, but Iíll put my two cents in about it anyhow. The user interface is what Iím talking about. The menus are all done fairly well, make sense, and just work. That said, aside from achievements and some pics of box art, posters, etc., thereís nothing exciting here. On to gameplayÖ. Here, there are two different angles as well. The first is how this fares as a direct, non-enhanced port. In this respect, the game rocks. As the game is effectively straight emulation, the graphics are as pixel perfect as youíd expect. Unfortunately, the arcade's tendency to slowdown when more than four enemies are on screen made it home to this port as well. Oh wellÖ it IS arcade perfect. The other angle to rate this from is with the enhanced graphics. The developers wanted to sharpen out all the pixelated 1987 graphics. What they did was replace the in-game graphics on the fly with new ones. The results are a bit mixed though. While I canít argue that everything is nice and sharp looking, everything looks a bit goofy and deformed. Also, everything looks a bit too smoothed out. This resembles what an Adobe Flash game looks like, with procedural graphics. That may in fact be the case here. I donít knowÖ everything just looks cheaper and a bit uglier than it used to. What should have been done is the developers should have used the new art work from the GBA port of the game. The game on the GBA is pixelated, but pretty. All of that said, this is still a nice game to look at. If you manage to scrounge up a copy through alternative means, just make sure to play with the original graphics; the new, sharper graphics certainly look more technically impressive, but their goofiness detracts from the look of the game, and the original visual aesthetic is lost in the process.
Higher grade here. Why? Dead authentic sound without trying to spruce anything up. If you played the arcade original, you know exactly what to expect. Nicely done. Why no A+? The neverending menu muzak. I really want to be able to disable itÖ itís so nerve racking.
What can I sayÖ arcade perfection. That said, itís too bad this wasnít a remix like on the GBA. That wouldíve been nice.
Theyíre all here, they all workÖ um, yeahÖ thatís really all you can ask for.
Controls and Moves: A-
Aside from the arcade perfect slowdown, everything works really well. You can reconfigure controls, and all the arcade moves are here. Some moves from DD II would have been nice, but you really canít complain too much. Collision detection is just as exacting as it was in the arcades, so youíll need to line some moves up precisely, but all the cheap arcade tricks (*cough* elbow smash) still work. Nice, really nice, but more would have been nicer.
This gets a B+ only because of the arcade perfection and because you can play with another player locally or online. But thereís only one-player and two-player arcade modes. Thatís it. Poopy. Thereís really no excuse to not add some more modes like player vs. player, boss battle, survival, or whatever. This just seems lazy. To compensate and hopefully add replay value, the developers added the achievements to the game. Some exclude each other so you have to play again (i.e. beat the game with no weapons and beat level 3 with the bat). Thatís cheap compensation for lack of better modes that wouldnít have taken too much extra coding. All of that said, the game is still a quick play (15 to 20 minutes), particularly with unlimited credits. But at $5, you canít complain too much for the value.
Really, the score should be a B+, but this port is a perfect replication of the original arcade game, which merits the A-. Really, this title had the potential to slam dunk the port to this system. With the insane processing power of the newer consoles, the enhanced graphics could have been a lot better. Also, some killer audio remixes could have been done, and the game could have taken a new path in the manner that Double Dragon Advance did. Also, a PS3 port should have been done, just for the Sony-only fanboys. Donít get me wrong, the game is worth more than just a look. Itís a keeper since itís cheap, and itís a dead-on port of the original. Itís a good Double Dragon game, really good. Itís just not phenomenal, and thatís a shame since all the tools and resources were here to make it phenomenal. Hereís hoping Double Dragon Neon turns out at least as well, and hopefully better.