Retro DoubleDragon iPhone game lacks essential features

Mar 11, 2011
Games

Anyone who picked up a game controller in the ’80s probably has at least a mild recollection of the Double Dragon series. I think there was even a cartoon based on the game’s characters. But none of that counts for anything now. In an app marketplace that sees equal parts nostalgia and innovation, the DoubleDragon […]

Anyone who picked up a game controller in the ’80s probably has at least a mild recollection of the Double Dragon series. I think there was even a cartoon based on the game’s characters. But none of that counts for anything now. In an app marketplace that sees equal parts nostalgia and innovation, the DoubleDragon app clearly falls in the former group. But does nostalgia alone make this remake worth playing? Sort of.

Sort of, in the sense that this is a fairly faithful recreation of the classic beat’-em-up gameplay that Double Dragon was famous for. Players walk across side-scrolling screens bashing everyone in sight. That they’ve even brought over the multi-player component via Bluetooth, speaks to how faithfully this DoubleDragon app adheres to its source material. But the game is so faithful that it looks and sounds the same as it did 20 years ago. I’m all for nostalgic gaming trips, but with game apps evolving as they have, the ugly 8-bit ports stand out even more than they did a few years ago.

Then there’s the matter of the controls. Without a proper gamepad, the DoubleDragon app has put a digital gamepad with kick, jump and crouch buttons directly on the bottom of the screen. But rather smartly, and unlike many game apps, they’ve resized the screen so enemies can’t appear where your fingers will be. As ugly as the big gray bar on the bottom third of the screen might be, I absolutely prefer it to trying to see around my tapping fingers. If anything, though, this creative solution to the lack of a gamepad only points out how ill-suited the iPhone is for classic console games.

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There is also the matter of the length of the game. With six fairly short levels, it wouldn’t take long for someone to beat the DoubleDragon app. The developers attempted to provide incentive for replays by including dozens of unlockable characters that you can receive for multiple game completions. That’s not a bad idea, but my complaint rests with the lack of an in-game save feature. Without one, DoubleDragon isn’t the kind of game you can start while waiting to meet a friend, unless you feel like losing your progress as soon as you stop playing.

So again, is the price of the game worth the admission? It is, if you want you remember fondly one of your favorite classic games. The DoubleDragon app lives up to the original brawler’s legacy more than adequately. Whether that’s enough to make it a worthy download if you weren’t a huge fan to begin with is another matter. Unless you’re a fan, there are more interesting and more challenging next-gen-styled apps that are more worthy of your money.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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