Dragon rolled up the garage doors and vroomed onto the iPhone and iPad earlier this week, with a small-sized reboot that invoked and updated its arcade ancestor’s main features – bosses, levels, soundtrack and more.
At bottom, it’s a beat-em-up controlled by a virtual pad and stick, with about 30 per cent of the screen given over to those graphics. If that doesn’t float your boat, no amount of nostalgia will make Double Dragon what you want it to be, unless you pick it up on the iPad, with its larger playing area.
Otherwise, it feels very much the same. One major difference is there’s no opening sequence where Marian gets punched in the vagina and carted off. Billy and Jimmy return to kick arse, using two control schemes. The simplified control set blends a utilitarian purpose with enough combos to stay interesting. The manual set allows you to play Double Dragon as you remember it, albeit on a virtual gamepad and buttons and not the arcade stick.
Also, and this is kind of silly, but when I played Double Dragon I counted on that framerate slowdown whenever there were a ton of guys on the screen. Naturally, this game runs much more smoothly than that. But Double Dragon is a game more than 20 years old with devotees who have their own methodologies for fighting through it. Although the command set is the same, playing it still will feel different thanks to the touch interface, and simple tasks like grappling (for that knee-butt attack) or picking up a bat will take some getting used to.
There’s a co-op mode over Bluetooth; that, of course, requires you to have someone nearby who has an iPhone or iPad with Double Dragon on it. I did not, so I can’t speak to this feature, and I don’t know if you have to battle your partner for Marian’s affection at the game’s conclusion. Either way, this is such a highly specific set of circumstances that it isn’t really a selling point.
If you’re a fan, get Double Dragon if you have an iPad. On the smaller screens, while the Retina display does a fine job with the new visuals, too much is obscured by the virtual console, and the buttons are a bit small if your digits are oversized like mine. If you just want to plow through an arcade classic, remember, at the full price ($8), that’s 32 quarters, so you’ll probably pay more than you spent at the pizza parlor to get to the end.
Double Dragon [iTunes App Store]