Review: Double Dragon (NES)

Single Dragon

Double Dragon is a classic NES game that was immensely popular in its day, so much so that it led to a string of sequels. Predictably the NES conversion of the arcade original made some compromises and changes to the game, so the question is whether it stands up well in the current day.

In terms of differences from the arcade version, one obvious change is that the levels are laid out differently and there are now only four of them. In addition to this, you cannot play simultaneously with a friend in the main game; this is a sad loss, especially for a beat ‘em up game such as this. At least it isn’t as easy to get through this version as just using a well timed elbow, which is all it took for those who knew their way around the arcade.

The game begins with you stepping into the kicking shoes of Jimmy Lee’s, and your girlfriend is beaten up and kidnapped by a ruthless crime lord. Outraged at this turn of events, it is your task to fight through a series of dastardly henchmen and rescue your woman.

With your top martial arts skills you are indeed a force to be reckoned with, but it is still a good idea to take advantage of the knifes, whips, and baseball bats you can pick up and use against all who get in your way; you can also pick up barrels and boxes to throw at your opponents. Before you can move on to the next part of the level you must take out all of the fiends who block your path, and at the end of each level there is the usual big boss to contend with who will be harder to take down. If you can knock the level one boss off the conveyor belt with one kick, then you can afford to feel a little smug towards fellow retro gamers.

In addition to the main game there is also a VS mode where you can fight against the computer or another player; you get six characters to choose from, including bad guys. This can be fun for a while and is a nice addition to the game.

For a game of its time, meanwhile, the graphics are not bad and the animation is pretty decent. The music from the arcade is captured nicely in a typically boppy NES style, and accompanies the proceedings nicely.


Despite its limitations on the NES hardware, the conversion of Double Dragon still manages to provide lots of entertainment. If you don't mind the missing two player co-op option this is a worthy purchase.

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