Double Dragon (NES)
Double Dragon for the NES is my all time favorite video game.
Double Dragon is one of the greatest games ever made in my opinion. This game was a hit in the arcades and soon became a hit in many homes with its release on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I first played it on the NES when I was three years old. I still have vivid memories of playing it at the young age of three in my kitchen. Yes, as weird as it may sound we had a TV in the kitchen just for the use of the Nintendo. My parents wanted it out there to keep me from hogging the TV in the living room all the time. Another memory I have from playing this game is throwing the controller across the room at the Television out of frustration. An act that would get me a temporary suspension from the Nintendo, but that’s another story. Aside from all the frustration I experienced playing this game it still kicked a$$ and will always be my favorite game of all time.
The game starts out on the street, when a few thugs kidnap your girlfriend Marian. From that point, the fight is on. You play as a martial artist named Billy Lee. You have to defeat the Shadow Warriors and get your girlfriend back. Throughout the game you gain the ability to perform new moves. Some moves include the uppercut, roundhouse kick, hair pull and this one move where you just sit on top of your enemy and pound the hell out of them. My favorite move to do was the throw (not the controller throw). I always found it entertaining to knee your enemy exactly four times in the face and then throw his a$$ 50 feet across the screen. I never really messed around with the versus mode that much. Truth is I just don’t like it. I think I thought it was cool playing it as a little kid but now I don’t even bother with it. I'll never forget the end of Mission 1, when you have your first encounter with Abobo. He's the boss at the end of the level. He's big, he's bad, he's got a mustache, he comes in all different colors and he made me have nightmares. I believe anyone who played this game at the age of three probably also would have had nightmares at the sight of Abobo. I mean seriously, he's this big ugly guy that wants to crush your head in. What more would make you have nightmares.
I said this is your first encounter with Abobo because he will make many more appearances throughout the game, sometimes in pairs.
Of course everyone must remember the infamous glitch at the end of mission 1. It was the glitch that allowed you to walk up the wall. I'm sure I’m not the only person that was killed by that wall. When I was younger I always used to think maybe one time, just one time it would take me to some bonus area or something, but it never did. Enough about the death wall though. Another thing that was great about this game was the music. The music is something that I will never forget. The graphics were also good for its time I suppose. The one thing about the graphics that always stood out to me were the environments. I'll never forget the way that mission 3 looked in particular. The environment along with the music in mission three made for a really suspenseful style of game play that I hadn't experienced before on the NES. From hearing all the music in this game so much at such a young age its etched into my brain. The game itself is pretty difficult. I wasn’t able to beat it until I was close to ten years old. The one problem I have with this game is the fact that there isn’t a two player co-op mode. I think it would have been even more fun to be able to play co-op in this game with another person, but who would disagree. Co-op mode was something that was done very well in the sequel Double Dragon II but not in Double Dragon III. In fact the two player mode wasn’t the only thing that was bad in the third Double Dragon. The whole friggin game sucked. Its the only game in the entire series that I can honestly say I don’t like.
One thing about Double Dragon that was much different than most beat em up action games was the way the punching worked. In most other beat em up games you could just walk up to your enemies and punch them without getting hurt. In Double Dragon when you went toe to toe with someone you would sometimes have to exchange punches with them, meaning you would get hurt too. So you might say, just don’t punch use kick instead. But even when you used kick you would have to time it just right to avoid being hit from your enemy. If you wait until your enemy is too close and go to kick him, he might drop you. Timing your attacks was essential and required a lot of practice. Because the timing was different with every enemy you really had to get to know the enemies and be on your toes at all times. I'm not complaining about this feature in the game at all, in fact I liked it. It was this kind of element that made for a more realistic and challenging game. What it showed was that the developers wanted the enemies to have some form of artificial intelligence as well. Timing your attacks was something that was especially difficult against Abobo and would require technique. Every time you saw Abobo you knew you were in for a fight... or maybe another nightmare.
Anyway, without this game my early childhood would have only consisted of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! and some Blades of Steel and Ghosts 'N Goblins here and there. There's really not much else to say about this game except for a big thanks to Technos, Tradewest and all the developers for creating it. This game is something that I will never forget from my childhood in the early 90's. Double Dragon set the bar high for its genre and no other game has ever come even remotely close to topping it in my opinion. I don't believe that anyone will ever come out with a beat em up action game better than Double Dragon for the NES.