Double Dragon Trilogy offers the first three Double Dragon games in mobile-friendly form, although it’s not that friendly for multiplayer action.
Double Dragon Trilogy (iOS): On the plus side
I’m a little too scared to think about how much money I must have put into Double Dragon back when it was in the arcades.
You know — back when there were such things as arcades. If you’re scratching your head and pondering that concept, go and ask somebody in (at least) their thirties, and they’ll explain it to you in-between bouts of complaining about you young folk. But I digress…
Double Dragon wasn’t the first beat-em-up, but it definitely defined the late 80’s era scrolling beat em up game, and undoubtedly made a pile of fat cash for Technos along the way. The brand went through a few sequels, a few remakes, a regrettable foray into Street Fighter territory before largely fading away into the nostalgia pile. For what it’s worth, I rather liked Double Dragon Neon, but I know I’m in the minority there.
Double Dragon Trilogy presents the first three Double Dragon Games in one app for iOS or Android devices. It’s been developed by DotEmu, a dev team with plenty of experience in emulating classic games, and for the most part, it’s quite authentic. Thankfully the button inputs on Double Dragon never had to be that precise, so tapping at the screen isn’t too tricky. Bluetooth controller support is said to be “coming soon”; in testing with the iON iCade, I couldn’t get it to respond, which is a bit of a pity.
You can alter the screen size to opt either for classic 4:3 dimensions with buttons down the sides, or a fullscreen 16:9 presentation with overlaid buttons, depending on your preferences.
Double Dragon Trilogy (iOS): On the minus side
Not everything Double Dragon is an absolute classic.
The movie aside, the game everyone tends to remember fondly is the first one, and even with my nostalgic rose-tinted glasses on, I’d say it still stands up. The sequels weren’t quite as good even back in the ’80s, and that’s still true today, especially for Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone, which tries for a more “realistic” visual style, but just ultimately feels clunky.
Speaking of clunky, there’s multiplayer support via Bluetooth if you’ve got multiple devices. My own tests with this found it to be very twitchy when it came to pairing — which is to say that it’s seemingly just like every other Bluetooth device ever — and extremely laggy for actual gameplay.
It was rather like playing Double Dragon as though both of you were connecting over a 14.4K modem, with players teleporting around and the music score breaking up terribly as it tried — and often failed — to sort out whether or not you’d scored a clean hit. Hopefully this is something that’ll improve with app updates, because right now, it’s just plain broken.
It’s also a product of its time, which is to say that it’s rather powerfully misogynistic. Marian, your love interest (she seems to have a thing for both of the Lee boys) is kidnapped via a single gut punch at the start of the first game. Things get worse for her in the second game, as she’s simply gunned down, providing little more than the reason for the game’s “The Revenge” suffix.
Double Dragon Trilogy (iOS): Pricing
Double Dragon Trilogy (iOS): Fat Duck verdict
Double Dragon — the original game — is a classic, and deservedly so. I’d still rather play it with actual physical buttons, so I’m hopeful that DotEmu will get that working sooner rather than later. Still, as a single player experience it’s very good, with diminishing returns the further into the series you go. Given the amount of money it took from me in the 80s, $2.99 is a reasonable enough kind of price, although I’m sure some will cry foul that it’s not either 99c or free, or something.
Double Dragon was always best played with a friend, however, and here the local broken Bluetooth model needs a lot of refining before it’s actually genuinely playable. If you’re after a solo nostalgia kick, go for it, but those who want to play with friends might want to hold back until this can be improved.