Double Dragon

REVIEWIn the early 90's, Double Dragon was pretty much a household name, thanks to the success of the original Double Dragon arcade beat-em-up series (in addition to the terrible 1994 Double Dragon live action film. The 1995 Neo Geo fighting game is actually a spin-off of the movie, but also takes some cues and natural inspiration from the beat-up-em series. Double Dragon features a total of 10 selectable characters and 2 bosses. At first glance, Double Dragon seems like yet like another "me too" Street Fighter 2 wannabe of the mid-90's... and for the most part, it is. However, Double Dragon on the NeoGeo has heart and originality in unexpected places.

Double Dragon character select screen.


Instead of having specific kick and punch buttons like most fighting games, characters in Double Dragon have 4 basic attacks which wary depending on the character's position. A super move meter is also available (known as a "Charge" meter in this game), and fills up faster when a character has less health. Special "Charge Attacks" are performed by executing the command of a regular special move and pressing two attack buttons simultaneously at the end instead of just one.

Terribly cheesy win quotes from the early Neogeo days.

Double Dragon is a very straight-forward 2D fighting game, offering halfway decent gameplay... but really not much we haven't seen before in other fighting games of the era. To its credit, the game does have a few entertaining characters with interesting abilities, like characters that can change costumes mid fight (Billy & Jimmy). However, a lot of the designs are typical "90s fare"... shallow and generic, with horribly translated in-game dialogue. If you could somehow get past all that, some of the characters do feature halfway interesting fighting styles, making the game "playable" at the least.


Billy & Jimmy doing what they do best... sort of.


Visually, this incarnation of Double Dragon didn't appeal to me like other fighting games did in the mid 90s. After becoming accustomed to the smoothness of other 2D fighters, it's difficult for me to go this far "backwards" in terms of animation and gameplay quality. To put it in perspective, Double Dragon was competing with the likes of Marvel Super Heroes, Mortal Kombat 3, Killer Instinct 2, Samurai Shodown 3, Darkstalkers 2... and the list goes on. Do you think this game stood out arcades with those games stealing the crowds? Not very much. At its best angle, Double Dragon is a bright and colorful fighting game with decent character sprites that are considerably large for the time period (but perhaps a bit too visibly 'flat' for their own good). Compared to other arcade / PS1 fighting games around in 1996, Double Dragon was definitely "behind the curve" in a few areas.

The PlayStation port has some differences from the original NeoGeo version. There were a few visual changes to backgrounds and characters, and the PS1 version introduces 2 new modes: Overdrive (featuring slightly faster gameplay) and Tiny 3D Mode (an obscure attempt at making the game visually appear "3D"). 










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Page Updated: May 19th, 2024
Developer(s): Technos
Publisher(s): Technos, SNK
Platform(s): Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, PlayStation, PSN
Release Date(s): Mar. 31st, 1995      (/ Arcade)
June 2nd, 1995
       (/ Neo Geo CD)
Apr. 26th, 1996
      ( PS1)
July 1996
                   ( PS1)
Jan. 14th, 2014 
     ( PSN)
Characters Billy Lee, Jimmy Lee, Abobo, Marian, Burnov, Amon, Dulton, Rebecca, Cheng-Fu, Eddie, Duke, Koga Shuko

Featured Video:

Related Games: Rage of the Dragons, Power Instinct, Power Instinct: Matrimelee, King of Fighters '95, Samurai Shodown 3, Darkstalkers 2, Fatal Fury 3, Street Fighter Alpha, Marvel Super Heroes, Mortal Kombat 3, Killer Instinct 2, Savage Reign, Golden Axe: The Duel, Galaxy Fight, Waku Waku 7

Gameplay Engine

 6.0 / 10

Story / Theme

 7.0 / 10

Overall Graphics

 6.0 / 10


 4.5 / 10

Music / Sound Effects

 6.5 / 10


 5.0 / 10

Art Direction

 5.5 / 10


 5.0 / 10

Options / Extras

 5.0 / 10

Intro / Presentation

 6.0 / 10

Replayability / Fun

 5.0 / 10

"Ouch" Factor

 5.0 / 10


 4.5 / 10


 5.4 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version     


Final Words: Double Dragon "the fighting game" was a fairly decent (yet painfully average) spin-off of the classic beat-em-up. As a player of many Capcom & SNK games in the early 90's, and a big fan of the original Double Dragon beat-em-ups since I was a kid, the Double Dragon failed to spark my interest at the time it released. In retrospect, it definitely has some uniqueness to it and even semi-decent character sprites / designs or the time. 

In arcades and on my Commodore 64 / Amiga in the late 80s, I loved the original Double Dragon beat-em-up games. Super Double Dragon on the old SNES was also great. However, something about Double Dragon on NeoGeo seemed a bit sloppy visually and didn't really capture the original "cool vibe" of the original beat-em-ups. However, the later released Rage of the Dragons (2002), also based on the Double Dragon series, was the spiritual successor to this title and ended up being a more impressive 2D fighting game released for NeoGeo and arcades.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen
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