Double Dragon iPhone Review

Gaming

Double Dragon
Platform: iPhone
Publisher: Aksys Games/Published by Bow Mobile Corp
Developer: Million Co.Ltd/Brizo Interactive Corp
Genre: Aracde / Beat’em Up
Release DateMarch 3rd
Price: $3.99 BUY NOW!

Video Review also included at end.

History

DOUBLE DRAGON the KING of side scrolling 2-D beat ’em ups is back!!! And it’s BACK with a vengeance on the Apple iPhone.  Now I’m not sure if many of you even know or have played Double Dragon at the arcades when it was released back in 1987.  But this is the game that set the standard for the beat ’em up titles that followed such as Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Rival Turf and many others.  Double Dragon, for its time, was truly a masterpiece in its own right.  Originally developed by Technos Japan and distributed to the rest of the world by Taito, Double Dragon was one of the first beat ’em ups to have a two-player co-op gameplay ability where you could join in with a mate and battle along-side each other to save Billy’s sweetheart Marion from the clutches of the evil Black Warriors. 

Double Dragon also had two arcade sequels along with quite a few remakes on everything from the NES to the Xbox 360 due its popularity.  We were even granted the special honor of a movie which um I think we wont mention in this review.

Finally Double Dragon has kicked, punched, head-butted and elbowed its way onto our mobile gaming devices with its release on the Apple iPhone.  Developed by Million Co.Ltd / Brizo Interative Corp and published by Aksys Games Double Dragon is an enhanced version of the arcade classic that we’ve all grown to love (myself included of course).  In a nutshell this new Double Dragon is jam packed with new graphics, music, and a whole bunch of extras never seen before in any other Double Dragon release. 

Story

So what’s story behind Double Dragon?   Well, being one of the first beat ’em ups released back in its day the story was, and still is, interesting.   Five years ago a nuclear holocaust incinerated the world; the whole human civilization lies in waste.  A powerful crime syndicate/gang emerges by the name of The Black Warriors and they have taken Marian hostage, and they present Billy and Jimmy with a grim ultimatum: give up the sacred Sousetsuken scrolls or never see Marian again. Not taking the threat lying down, they take to the streets to save her and take down their leader the evil Machine Gun Willy. Equipped with their deadly martial arts prowess and slick street smarts, Billy and Jimmy must carve through an entire army of thugs to see Marian safe again. 

Gameplay & Features

The Double Dragon remake is jam packed with features and extras.  For starters we have an interesting opening story that sets the scene for what’s to come and give the player a clear understanding on what is required of them.  Jumping into the menu system you are presented with an option to choose between an auto and manual play mode control scheme.  Players not familiar with 2d beat ’em ups are urged to try the auto configuration at first. The reasoning for this is the fact that it makes it a little easier to pull of special moves.  For the veteran players the manual option is also available allowing you pull off more moves and special attacks but is a little more complicated as extra buttons are added to the control scheme.   

The on screen virtual control system does take up a quarter of the screen and isn’t transparent so you only have three quarters of the screen to play with.  I did notice that at certain points in the game when you drop a weapon and it falls down the bottom part of the screen you have to blindly try and walk around while pressing the punch button to pick it up again without getting clobbered by enemies.

The on screen eight directional control pad works perfectly and responds to your thumb without any problems at all.  On the other hand the three/four buttons (punch, kick, jump, dragon) depending if you’re playing in auto or manual mode are not as responsive as you want them to be.  I did find myself losing my cool at some points in the game when I’d be pressing the kick or the punch button and it wouldn’t do anything then BAM!!!! I’d get the crap kick out of me by one of the many enemies in the game.  With that said the control system is by far a whole lot better than other control systems currently available on the iPhone at the moment. Especially when it comes to 2d side scrolling beat ’em ups.

There are three gameplay modes available in the game.  Let’s start with the original arcade mode which has been totally spiced up with improved graphics, new enemies and revamped level designs that will keep the hard core Double Dragon fans happy and new comers to the series also satisfied.   Now where do we start there are quite a few things missing, added and mixed up in this remake of Double Dragon.  I’m not going to list them all but what I’ll do is go through some of the ones that hard core Double Dragon fans should be aware of. 

At the beginning of the game you don’t get to witness the legendary kidnapping of Marian by the Black Warriors, where they punch her in the gut and she falls to the floor, they pick her up and walk away.  (WHY WAS THIS TAKEN OUT !!!)  Then instead of the Garage door opening up and Billy and Jimmy come out you see Billy or Jimmy run into the screen and stop in front of their Garage which is closed but should of been open and showing their blazing hot red sports car.    Next the level designs have changed, for example the first two levels have been redone and look nicely polished but have been cut short, there are a few things you can’t do and are missing compared to the original arcade release.  In the first level where Linda comes out from the building with the Scoop Buggy sign, you can’t climb the ladder; I was trying but failed and got whipped a few times by Linda who laughed at me while I lay on the ground in pain. 

The second level with the factory the conveyer belt at the end is missing and you can’t jump on it and or kick enemies into it to their doom.  This was probably one of the most enjoyable parts in the original arcade release.   There are a total of six levels, two of which are completely new to the game, one is a high school, the other is a night club, and both look great and give the game a new fresh feel.  The remaining four levels as explained have been revamped and redone and shorted quite a bit.  I’m not sure why but with the capabilities of the iPhone nowadays I would of thought the levels could of been a little longer rather than shorter which to me as a little disappointing.

Moving right along to the enemies, we have a mix of new and old. The old making their triumphant return in grand way such as the legendary steroid crazed hulk of a man ABOBO (Level 1 boss) and the not so normal BURNOV that we all know from Level 1 boss in Double Dragon 2.  This is where true hard core fans of Double Dragon will find themselves a little confused.  Some of the enemies in Double Dragon are completely new such as the night club enemies, and also the three new bosses (no spoilers) joining in on the action, then we have the old enemies such as Williams, Linda and Frank, but then Cindy and Kent and few others who were part of Double Dragon 2 decide to make an appearance in the game.   Which is is great but completly took me by surprise as I was then looking for other enemies such as Jeff and Abore Stage 2 boss of Double Dragon 2. He’s a giant who wears a pair of shades and suspenders. His attacks includes a thrust, a slap, a kick and a powerful shoulder tackle.  But it seems that both Jeff and Abore were no where to be seen. 

Still this didn’t put me off the game in any way but made me even more determined to power through and make it to the end, which I did in true Double Dragon fashion and finished the game on my first run through.  Yes I know I still got it (Well I should seeing that I have all 3 actual arcade machines and occasionally power them up for a run through when I have the time.) 

Another great addition to the story mode is the dialog that happens before and after boss battles.  This adds to the story and provides a much deeper and fulfilling experience for the player, hard core fans of the series should find this quite interesting as we finally get to see Machine Gun Willy speak of his evil plot and what he intends on doing with the sacred scrolls once he has them in his possession. 

With story mode out of the way another feature thrown into the game is the ability to unlock achievements and have them linked to your Gamecenter profile, and also post them to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  The achievements are quite challenging and will busy for hours as you will need to play and replay the game numerous times.  

Another feature never seen or done before in Double Dragon is the ability to play through the entire game / mission mode as an enemy.  Once you complete the game with either Billy or Jimmy you unlock characters / enemies from the game, such as Abobo and the lower level enemies such as Linda, Frank etc.  You can then play through the game with those characters and unlock further characters / bosses that you can use.  This is quite interesting and entertaining as every character has their own strengths and weaknesses. 

Take for example Billy and Jimmy have a vast array of combat moves some available at the beginning of the game and some only available once you earn enough experience to level up (YES THATS RIGHT) you can level up and unlock extra special abilities in the game as well!!!  You gain experience by completing each level, depending on how well you perform.  Once you level up you can access the MY DATA section and check out character profiles, and command lists (skills and techniques) available to them in the game.   The character profile is a nice little touch to the game providing the player with a bit of back end history on whom these old and new characters are.

As explained above some of the enemies are ranked by their level class, B and C class for example.  Therefore playing as a lower level enemy will be much harder because of their lack of technical ability plus they are not as tough so one punch or kick could drain their energy bar a lot more than the A class characters such as Billy and Jimmy and some of the Boss characters.  This in turn makes the game quite challenging and fun to play through again.

The other two remaining game modes in the game are Double Dragon Mode and Time Attack Mode.  In time attack mode you select a character and a stage and you’re timed on how fast it takes you to clear a stage.  Pretty straight forward and not as entertaining as Dragon Mode (Mission Mode) but at least you can always try and beat your mates with the Game Center option to see how you rank up against your friends.  (currently Game Center was not updating at the time of the review)

Finally what makes Double Dragon – Double Dragon, the option to play with a friend in Double Dragon Mode.  In this mode you and a friend can link up with the use of the Bluetooth functionality on the iPhone.  To get this working you will need to Switch Wi-Fi off on both iPhones as this does interfere with the gameplay.  You can also play with a friend who has an iPad as well but in that case you will need to keep the Wi-Fi function on.  It’s a little confusing but it’s not too complicated.  The hosting player will have the option to select the difficulty level then you can take on the Black Warriors as a team.

Unfortunately only being able to play Double Dragon via Bluetooth was quite disappointing as I don’t have many friends with iPhones and also they’d need to also purchase the game as well to play it – I did manage to test the game via Bluetooth and found it to be a little laggy and un-responsive at times, this hopefully can be addressed in the next patch release along with maybe an online option.   An online feature with the option to use Wi-Fi so that your internet connection is somewhat stable would have been a much smarter choice but that isn’t an option at the moment.  I hope to see a future update with this option available as Double Dragon isn’t really Dragon without the option to play with someone else or with a friend anytime you want.

Sound

The soundtrack in the game is absolutely amazing; this is something that Million Co / Brizo have nailed perfectly.  The opening theme music will have any hardcore Double Dragon fan pumped and whipped into a frenzy ready for action in no time.  For example Level 1’s music has been redone and sounds brilliant listening to it brought back old memories of playing on the arcade machine but with a new fresh outlook breathing new life into it.  (I hope Brizo release an official soundtrack as I’d pay money to buy it).

Conclusion

In closing, Double Dragon on the iPhone is possibly one of the most feature packed and polished remakes ever released (even rivalling the old Super Double Dragon released on the SNES). If you’re a true hardcore fan of the series and want to play as some of the old school enemies or even find out a little more about their profile and history this is certainly a game MUST have one your iPhone.  With the added bonus of some funny and certainly challenging achievements Double Dragon will keep you busy for hours on end.   Expect playthrough time to vary depending on your skill level but you can possibly power through the game in under an hour, finish it, unlock a few new extra characters and start all over again.

Do you have what it takes to take down the evil Machine Gun Willy and save the beautiful Marian??? Then step up to the plate, pick up your trusty baseball bat or whip and come out swinging!!!

Capsule Computers Score :

9-0-capsules-out-of-10

Play Hard Or Don't Play At All
  • alee

    I never played the original, but this sounds like fun!

  • Cellophane Girl

    The graphic look good, and the control set up doesn’t look to shabby for a fighting game on the iphone.
    I tend to stay away from fighters and other games that have more complicated and time sensitive controls on the iphone, as they tend to not be as responsive. Some games are just made for the iphone and some are not. This looks like it is a great step in the right direction though.

  • Bipple!

    I loved playing this in arcade when i was a kid, been thinking of getting it for xbox360, this slightly updated version looks nice. I hope i win!

  • v8hilux

    nice belnd of the old style graphics n uprated artwork. find the onscreen buttons n dpad annoying though on the iphone and other touch screens

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