Review of Double Dragon on the Wii Virtual Console
Double Dragon was first released by Tatio as an arcade game over twenty years ago. While the game has been ported to numerous systems (including mobile phones), it is the port for the original 8-bit Nintendo that most 80’s gamers will remember.
At its heart, Double Dragon is a simple side-scrolling beat-em up game. You play as Billy, a martial arts master. Your girlfriend has been captured by a gang that controls much of the city. In order to free your girlfriend you must kick, punch and bash your way through legions of enemies for a final show down with the Shadow Boss – leader of the Black Warriors. While the plot has been explored in great depth in future games, a (somewhat terrible) movie, and a (much better) cartoon series, it plays little role in the first game.
If you have never played Double Dragon, the first fight screens may leave you wondering what all the hype is about. Keep playing. While you will initially be armed only with your fists and a simple kick, things quickly grow more interesting as you encounter armed enemies.
You will find that once you disarm an enemy, you will be able pickup their weapon and use it against them. There is something extremely satisfying about bashing your opponents with their own weapons.
The game also does a good job of incorporating the environment into the battles. You will commonly encounter items that can be thrown or use the environment its self to defeat your foes. One of the best examples of this occurs early in the first boss battle.
The room in which you encounter the boss contains a conveyor belt that drops anything placed on it into oblivion. With a little effort, you can maneuver the boss onto the belt and watch him plunge to his doom. In addition to environmental hazards and weapons, latter stages feature some basic platform jumping to keep things fresh and interesting.
The game also features a level based skill building system not found in the original arcade version. As you progress, you will collect heart points that will unlock new moves. Adding new game elements to make up for graphical deficiencies of a port was a common practice in the 8-bit era, and it works well in this title.
In addition to the single player mode, the game offers a couple of two player modes as well. Sadly, this does not mean co-op play. In the primary mode of play, players take turns controlling the same character. So when you use an FPS Tracker, you will see your standing in the game in the overall setting. The other option is to brawl with each other or against the computer. These parts of the game have a tack-ed on feel and do little to add value.
For its day, Double Dragon features solid graphics and sound. Sprite animation is severely limited by the 8-bit hardware, but it is still well done. Enemy and backdrop designs are creative and varied. The sound effects and music are solid and catchy. Even it was first released, the graphics where not what wowed gamers.
Double Dragon for the NES has aged very well. The simple addictive game play, combined with solid controls and varied challenges are still fun. Whether you grew up playing it, or have some how missed out, Double Dragon on the Wii Virtual Console is well worth the 500 Wii point asking price.