The streak is officially over. The Xbox Live Arcade has enjoyed at least one awesome new game each week for the previous months, turning what had been a rather hit or miss service into something special; especially considering the relatively new competition from the likes of Nintendo’s Virtual Console and Sony’s PlayStation Network downloadable games services.
Enter the ultimate Live Arcade buzzkill – Double Dragon.
Taken on its own merits, an arcade-perfect version of Double Dragon really wouldn’t have stood the test of time, even without the issues present in the Live Arcade version. This ancient quarter-muncher is just too short, too slow, and far too tame to be exciting in today’s market. Even as a two-player game, it doesn’t offer the same level of excitement as another recent Live Arcade beat-em-up: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Developer Razerback spent a bit of time sprucing up the ol’ Dragon for a contemporary audience in the form of online multiplayer and shiny new, “high-res” graphics. No real complaints with the new visuals here – especially since purists can switch back to the super-pixellated original graphics with the push of a few buttons. And the online multiplayer runs as well as we’ve come to expect – or rather, accept – with most classic Live Arcade games. That is to say it’s mostly functional, and not a whole lot of fun.
Said developers probably should have spent a bit more time ironing the bugs out of the game rather than spending extra time on repainting this classic. The game has crazy amounts of slowdown, and frequent bugs that tend to make it impossible to actually continue the game. For example: in the fortress near the end of the game, we once had a dude who somehow froze over a bed of spikes. He wasn’t dead…and he was impossible to actually hit. And considering Double Dragon only lets you proceed through the level by clearing out each group of enemies you come across, our game actually couldn’t go on.
This is a regular occurrence.
Double Dragon might seem like a steal at 400 points, but the only ones getting away with anything here are publisher Empire Interactive. A little bit of quality assurance time would have gone a long way in improving Double Dragon, but ultimately, this brawler just isn’t main-event material anymore.