Every week Cyril Lachel comes down from his giant castle in the hills to provide the final word on all of the classic downloadable games and retro compilations. This is the Retro Round-Up, your official guide to the best (and worst) in classic gaming for the Nintendo Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Join us as we shed some light on what games are worth your five or ten dollars, and what games you should avoid at all costs. For more information about these games (and retro gaming in general) we invite you to check out Defunct Games
. This week we have almost nothing to talk about. Apparently everybody is getting out of the way of the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, because we only got one game for the Virtual Console and nothing for the Xbox Live Arcade and GameTap service. That means that we're talking about one game and one game only. That game is Double Dragon for the NES, a fun little action game that gets mostly gets by on its nostalgia factor. Sadly this isn't the best version of the game, but then maybe I should save that for the actual review. Read that and, well, nothing else when you read today's "exciting" episode of Retro Round-Up!
What Is It?
Just one week after talking about River City Ransom
Nintendo/Tenchos are back with yet another 8-bit brawler for the Virtual Console. This time around it's the seminal Double Dragon, the arcade game that influenced an entire generation 8- and 16-bit beat-em-ups. Though future brawlers would do a better job at genre, there is still a lot of love for this simplistic action game. The story is simple, your girlfriend has been kidnapped and it's up to you to fight though dozens of similar looking baddies in order to get her back. But don't get too excited arcade fans, because this version of Double Dragon is decidedly different from that of the coin-on (and, for that matter, the Xbox Live Arcade port). In some ways this version is actually better, it adds a "new" two player versus mode and the levels have been altered in ways that make them more fun from a console perspective. On the other hand, missing is the two-player simultaneous story mode that made the original arcade game so much fun. Another problem is that the 8-bit hardware limited the amount of enemies you could display at one time, so generally you are only fighting against two bad guys. If you can get past these problems you will find a fun (albeit shallow) action game that may be worth five dollars. There are certainly better brawlers on the Virtual Console, so make sure this isn't the first beat-em-up you pick up on the Wii.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Double Dragon has not aged well. Beyond the graphics (which are understandably poor), Double Dragon suffers from repetitive gameplay and a complete lack of variety. That's not to say you can't have some fun with this brawler, but this 8-bit Double Dragon makes Final Fight on the Super NES look like a deep and rewarding experience. The lack of moves (both special and regular) is only amplified when gamers attempt to fight each other in the exclusive one-on-one mode. I know a lot of people have fond memories of Double Dragon, but we just have to face facts here, this game has not held up well.
Is It Worth Buying?
This is a tough call as far as I'm concerned. While I personally like this 8-bit NES version better than the Xbox Live Arcade port, it's hard not to miss the two-player simultaneous mode. I suppose you could argue that it's nice to have the NES exclusive one-on-one mode, but even that is hard to enjoy when we have 20 years worth of fantastic 2D fighting games to compare it to. If you're the kind of person that likes to play their Double Dragon by themselves, then this Virtual Console port is the one to get. The levels are better, there are some cool additions not seen in the arcade game and it doesn't have the funky updated graphics the Xbox Live Arcade version had. Everybody else should probably stick with the ... actually, on second thought, why not just buy a better brawler? I hear Streets of Rage 2 calling your name right now.