Billy and Jimmy Beat 'em Up!
Enter the Dragon...Double Dragon. Brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee, team up to take on a deadly street gang who have kidnapped Billy's sweetheart, Mary Ann. Double Dragon was originally a successful beat 'em up arcade game and became the poster child for the entire genre. Due to its grand success, it was ported to as many systems as they could scramble to find. Here, the Sega Master System is home to perhaps the most faithful port of that classic arcade game. You keep the ability to kick, punch, use weapons, and, best of all, team up with a buddy for a beat down in this beat 'em up.
Let's be clear, the best thing about Double Dragon is the fact that you and a friend can team up and clobber bad guys. There simply aren't many games on the Master System that allow you to play together with a friend. Thankfully, Double Dragon helps to fill that void. Whether you team up on one bad guy, square off on separate enemies, or pummel each other, the one sure thing that you will be having is a blast! One player controls Billy and the other controls Jimmy, and each player has access to a surprising repertoire of moves for a two-button game. You can punch, kick, headbutt, elbow, jump kick, use weapons, and even throw things. The ability to pick up and use weapons was, for its time, ground-breaking, and just plain fun. Nothing feels better then battering baddies with a bat! However, even with how fun this game is, there are some technical issues that hinder the experience.
Perhaps the most glaring issue is the hit detection, which is spotty. You will find yourself sometimes punching an enemy straight in the face, and missing. Even worse, the whip (a weapon in the game) really only seems to hit half the time...which is doubling annoying since using weapons is one of the best parts about the game! Added on top of this, in the later stages enemies have better recovery from your hits, which prevents you from combo'ing them. This adds a lot of challenge to the game, which is welcome (since it is a bit short), but also makes it really tedious in the later stages. One of the other issues is that some of the moves are pretty useless (looking at you headbutt and elbow)...which turns the pretty impressive moveset into just a couple attacks that you repeat over and over because they are the only ones that work. Finally, the game looks pretty good and doesn't suffer from slowdown, but has a ton of issues with flickering...and it gets really bad when playing with a pal. Even though all these issues are pretty annoying, the game does remain a super fun experience overall.
Double Up in Double Dragon!
If you play this game, you should play with a buddy. I did have fun playing through this game the first time by myself...but there was really nothing to keep me playing it after I beat it. Some of the glaring technical annoyances really started standing out in the later stages too. I found myself forced to use a jab-and-run tactic for most enemies rather than just plowing forward and beating 'em up. However, playing with a friend amped the "fun" meter up to max and you overlook all of those issues. It tends to get really interesting if you "accidentally" attack each other in the midst of a heated fight. Regardless, this stands as a good port of Double Dragon, which is a classic game worthy of playing. I'd say that if you have friends that you play the Master System with, you NEED this game. For those solo players though, it remains a fun game, but the flaws do detract noticeably from the experience.
Double Dragon is a 8 / 10, for being an unforgettable multiplayer experience, but having definite flaws which do detract from the gameplay.