Remake of a classic brawler – fight your way through hostile territory to rescue your girlfriend!
After the nuclear war the world hasn’t been the same. In New York city, crime rates are high and gangs rule the streets. Billy and Jimmy Lee run a small gym at the edge of town, and one day they receive a letter from the criminal organization called “The Shadow Warriors” stating that if they ever again want to see Marian (Billy’s girlfriend) alive, they need to bring them the secret book of Sou-Setsu-Ken. Billy and Jimmy aren’t very fond of the idea of letting these scum have Marian, and they can’t give up the secret book of their martial arts teachings – so there’s only one way out, and that is the hard way…
Billy and Jimmy set out to put their fighting skills to the test, and they face a whole city of gangsters and crooks who protect and work for The Shadow Warriors. This is a side-scrolling street brawling game where you visit various locations in your battle to rescue Marian. This is basically a remake of the arcade classic “Double Dragon”, but with some new features added in. It’s a very welcome addition to the Game Boy Advanced library of games, and a game like Double Dragon needs to available on as many platforms as possible.
Compared to older Double Dragon games, you’ll be positively surprised about how fast and responsive the controls are. You now have dedicated punch, kick, block and jump buttons, and depending on situation you can perform various actions. All your moves will leave you vulnerable for counter attacks, so you have to be mindful of your timing and precision.
There’s eight missions and of course each mission has a boss waiting at the end. Between missions you’ll be fed with awesome artwork as the story unravels. Never before have we gotten a this good look into the world of Double Dragon.
Unfortunately the game is very hard to play alone – it’s strongly recommended to have someone to back you up. When you get hit, you will typically be stunned for a while often allowing a whole combo to land, which in turn quickly chugs away at your health bar. Having a friend fight at your side will help in these situations. When you get surrounded by enemies, they will most certainly get you if fail to escape quickly enough. Positioning is the key to survival.
To your advantage, there are various weapons to use through out the game. Some of which feels very overpowered – but you certainly need every bit of help you can get here, so it’s street rules all the way. The weapons all have good reach and cause massive damage. Even the bosses are a breeze if you happen to have a whip, flail or some other weapon near by. There are also many chasms you you need to be aware of as they can be both a blessing and a cruse – a well placed kick can easily send a thug over the edge.
Billy and Jimmy must have had some practice from last time they hit the streets. They can now do more moves than ever before. You can stomp on enemies when they lie down and make some special moves like the “Hyper Uppercut”. You also have the ability to block and counter attacks – but in order to utilize those, you’ll probably need to practice them.
Other than the standard game mode there is a new way to play Double Dragon here called “1 Player Double Dragon”, which means that you can play alone and control both Billy and Jimmy. This is done by switching between character controls with the select button – yes, both characters are on-screen at the same time. Playing like this is very hard and while this probably gives you better chances to beat the game, it’s not going to be easy!
Luckily there is a 2 Player mode too, that plays like the original arcade. This requires a link cable and two copies of the game. There is also an added survival mode in the mix. This is a simple mode where you must survive as long as you can in an arena against waves of enemies – cool and fun for a while if you want to challenge a friend’s scores.
To keep the game interesting even after beating it, there are three different difficulty levels and some unlocks. Being a Beat ’em Up game, it doesn’t have the best back-to-back replay value and this is even more so if you don’t have anyone to play with. It should be said though that if you are to play Double Dragon alone, then this is probably one of the better versions to play.
The environments in story mode strongly resemble the original levels – the difference is the graphics. The characters are large on the screen, and the backgrounds are colorful and that’s another improvement over the arcade. Since the Game Boy’s screen has its limited resolution you could argue that they don’t show enough of the level, but I don’t see that as a huge problem when playing the game. The screen happily scrolls along with you to keep the action going, and there are no notable frame rate issues whatsoever.
The graphics are overall very nice – it’s a blast to see the same familiar places from the arcade version in new style and looks, completely redrawn. It has that homely feeling to it. The animations are looking better than ever, and it all keeps running smoothly – the hardware does a tremendous job at displaying huge sprites on the screen.
The music draws strongly from the arcade version too – and that is very welcome! The sound effects aren’t the best ones out there, but they suffice well enough – you’ll even hear Billy and Jimmy scream out in pain when they get beaten, and you will have the pleasure to hear the enemies do the same. The soundtrack is great all way through and suits the theme nicely.
Double Dragon Advanced is very much a no-brainer on many levels. If you like fighting games or Beat ’em Ups, you need to play this. This game has its potential in the 2 Player mode, but even alone you will have a blast. Just make sure that you are prepared for the fact that the bad guys in this game are mean – they will beat the shit out of you the moment you turn your back. But then again… they have Marian.