So, rewind to 1990. Double Dragon mania was dying out, and while there existed two phenomenal arcade games and a myriad of fantastic ports (and some not so great), the cash-cow needed new food. Enter Double Dragon 3 to the arcades. With either two or three simultaneous players possible (depending on the cabinet configuration), improved graphics, new sound technology, and a whole lot of other promises, the game built some hype on the heels of its ancestors, and the public awaited the release. Unfortunately, the game’s release (and subsequent reviews) were less than stellar. DD 3 played slower than either of the previous games, had ruthless, unforgiving enemies, cliché, uninspired characters, and a funky, pointless back story. Worst of all was the purchasing system (buying new weapons, etc., by popping in extra quarters). There’s where the cash-cow brought money in. Ultimately, the game, while decent enough, paled in comparison to its older siblings, and faded into obscurity. The following year, ports started being released on home consoles and computers. One of the most powerful gaming platforms of the time was the venerable Amiga. The Amiga flexes its conversion-accuracy muscle in this game and it’s pretty dead-on accurate. Lots of work was put into the port, and the end result is a very faithful translation. Unfortunately, it’s just an accurate translation of a mediocre brawler with the Double Dragon franchise slapped on it.
How to rate this? Is it on the merits of the conversion or of the source arcade version? Both. As a conversion, this is done well; damn well. It’s precise, accurate, and replicates the arcade experience faithfully. That said, the arcade original was a bit lackluster for its release date, and that same lackluster experience came home on the Amiga (though it seems to me that there’s better color use in some spots of this port). Other than the fact that the original looked a bit dull, uninspired, and flat, there’s nothing to hold against the Amiga port, graphically. The original version didn’t leave a lot for the Amiga to work with, really… nothing that was 1991 quality anyway. And really, I’m not a huge fan of the shift from the cartoonish graphics of the first two titles to the (for its time) ultra realistic character graphics. It loses some charm. So being less the Amiga’s fault (though there’s plenty of fault to spread about) and more the arcade original’s fault, I’d say this game was just a bit more than well done, but not quite great.
OK, this gets a solid A. Why? It’s better than the arcade. The Amiga was no slacker in the audio department. Sound effects in this game were a bit “meh,” but they were just as “meh” in the original, so that’s to be expected. What shines here are the tunes. They’re faithfully ported from the arcade, and in some cases sound better. The title tune, for example, really sets a nice oriental tone to the game. I actually find this game a bit more advanced in its audio output than its arcade source. Nice job.
Just like in the arcade version, these enemies are dull, drab, uninspired, and just as “meh” as the sound effects. What’s worse is that just like in the arcade version, they’re cheap. Fighting pretty much any stronger enemy will result in about a one-eighth reduction in your life… per hit. Cheap. It’s all accurate to the arcade port, but that’s not really that good of a thing here. Grrrr....
Just like the arcade again. Just as crappy, and just as useless. You’re better off with your hands and feet for a couple of reasons. One: the weapons, while powerful, are slow. And two: you have to buy your weapons. Unlike the arcade version, where you can pump an unlimited number of quarters into the machine, here you get a limited number of credits to use for buying weapons, moves, upgrades or whatever. As infuriating as the arcade version was in this respect, this port is worse. Not good. Not good at all.
Controls and Moves: C
Yet again, arcade deficiencies plague the Amiga versions here. Being the third installment of the game, you’d think that Bill and Jimmy would have a larger repertoire of moves at their disposal. They did, after all, according to the game’s cutscenes, train after the second game to become martial arts masters. Seems they wasted their time eating junk food and watching TV or something, because the Lee brothers have fewer moves at their disposal now. No excuse for that. On top of the sluggish, sloppy controls, this provides for an exercise in frustration throughout the entire game. The only reason the Amiga port gets a C is that the arcade port was just as crappy. In fact, the controls seem a little bit tighter her, but that doesn’t mean they’re good or even in the vicinity of good… just a little better. Also, since it doesn’t really fit in anywhere else, and it’s frustrating (though not to the point of mental breakdown), the game’s load times are pure crap. Since you’re not “controlling” anything while the game is loading, this makes for a ton of non-controls.
Yep… single player and double player modes are both here… that way you and a buddy can suffer in the horrible controls together. Nothing else here. More poop.
What a waste of a perfectly good franchise opportunity. So much more
could have been done with this license than what Technos accomplished.
The arcade port was disappointing, and as such, this fantastic port ends up
being a great replica of a really mediocre game. In short, it’s a
mediocre brawler because of its parentage. I like Double Dragon 3,
don’t get me wrong; I just like it on the NES. If the arcade port had
gone the route of the NES classic, much better results would have been seen.
Even with the NES port’s extreme difficulty, it’s a great, great game.
This port doesn’t get low marks due to difficulty, but due to a lot of
half-assed efforts that created something that, if not a Double Dragon
title, would have been strictly OK and faded off into video game oblivion.
As it is, because of the franchise, this game is so disappointing, and it
becomes something quite undesirable, though not completely imperfect.
It’s a poop sammich, no doubt, just not a soggy one.