Even after countless awful (and at times unplayable) sequels, Double Dragon is one of those games that has refused to die. This 1987 arcade classic has reasons to stick around too. As the innovator of the beat-em-up, it’s still a great time killer, and that’s just what you’re looking for on a cell phone.
Culled from a variety of games in the series, this mobile title is a basic introduction into the series. This is only partially the original arcade game. Backgrounds have been picked from the various sequels, even borrowing segments from the recent Game Boy Advance version. Sprites also remain close, mixing elements of Super Double Dragon in too.
Basic combat remains the same, crammed onto a keypad. The usual moves, jumping, punching, and kicking, are all assigned separately. Other moves, like the critical elbow blast, require multiple presses. It’s awkward, though with time it’s manageable.
It can be beaten (in three stages, trimmed from four in the arcade) with basic kicks and punches regardless, unless the difficulty is ramped up. Impact feels great, and a combo notifier has been added. Taking out multiple thugs at once can send this quite high, increasing the level of satisfaction.
Any segments involving jumping have been cut. You’ll never need to traverse over the bridge in level three since, well, there is no level three. The forest stage has been cut entirely. Instead, enemies are compounded into a small section in the final level, just before the final confrontation with Willy. The game would be less than 10-minutes without it.
Most of the music has made it into the small file that contains the game. Each stage has its respective theme, while the end credits are read over the final battle music from Double Dragon II. Sound effects, if desired, must be played without the music. The punches sound weak, though they do attempt to mimic the original.
Compared to the original cell phone version of Double Dragon, this is a remarkable improvement. If the game initially feels sluggish, turn the speed a little higher. It defaults to medium, which gives the game a choppy, disconnected feel. Setting it to high makes it a fantastic, albeit short, facsimile of the arcade game. It’s a worthy download at a meager $7, especially for fans of the series.