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Double Dragon (PSone Classics) Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Double Dragon ditches the side-scrolling beat-em-up genre for one-on-one fighting action. Loosely based on the twenty year old action film, this PlayStation fighter offers exciting backgrounds and cheesy full-motion video. Don't let its association with the movie fool you, Double Dragon is a lot better than Street Fighter: The Movie. Rating: 64%
Double Dragon (PSone Classics)
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Street Fighter: The Movie poisoned the waters. After meeting a chilly reception in arcades and on home console, this mediocre adaptation soured the market on fighting games based on movies based on fighting games. Perhaps that's why we didn't see one-on-one spin-offs of movies like Dead or Alive, Tekken and Mortal Kombat. But you shouldn't let Capcom's misfires stop you from checking out Double Dragon on the PlayStation, as it manages to outdo Street Fighter: The Movie in just about every way possible.

While that probably sounds like a backhanded compliment, I assure you that it's not. Originally released on the Neo Geo in 1995, Double Dragon strays from its traditional beat-em-up roots and becomes a typical Street Fighter II clone. The good news is that Double Dragon the fighting game is a lot better than Double Dragon the poorly-received motion picture. The gameplay and look feels a little dated by today's standard, but at the time it was perfectly in line with what was coming out on the Neo Geo.

Double Dragon (PSone Classic)Click For the Full Picture Archive

While Street Fighter: The Movie largely stayed true to the film's cast, this one-on-one fighting game wants nothing to do with the Double Dragon motion picture. Not including the final boss, only four of the eleven characters are featured in the movie. You get both Billy and Jimmy Lee, fan-favorite Abobo, and Marian, who was played by Alyssa Milano in the movie. The final boss is the evil Koga Shuko, whose video game counterpart looks nothing like the Robert Patrick that starred in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The remaining eight characters may not be from the Double Dragon movie, but they certainly fit in. You can select Amon, who looks like he just stepped out of Ninja Gaiden. Rebecca is the only other woman in the cast, while Cheng Fu enters the ring half in the bag. And don't forget about Burnov, who might as well be Karnov from Bad Dudes (who also received his own arcade game, appropriately named Karnov).

Double Dragon (PSone Classic)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Each character is equipped with a couple different special moves, which are performed using the fireball and uppercut combinations made famous in the Street Fighter series. In fact, the game rarely strays far from what you expect from a 1990s fighting game. The one big difference is that you can use any button to unleash a special move. Unfortunately, the different buttons don't allow you to throw slower or more powerful fireballs; you're stuck with the same move across all four buttons. This makes memorizing moves a lot easier, but takes away some of the strategy.

While the fighting might be a little vanilla, the backgrounds do a good job of standing out. It's been a long time since watching the Double Dragon movie, but I'm pretty sure Billy and Abobo didn't fight on the wings of an airplane. This is just one of the many memorable stages, each with different times of the day and tons of animation in the background.

Double Dragon (PSone Classic)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Apart from the backgrounds, there isn't much to make this fighting game stand out. Perhaps that's why the developers decided to add a number of extra modes and bizarre Easter eggs. I quickly discovered that I could resize my fighter at any time, making them as small and thin as possible. This didn't change the hit boxes, but did turn otherwise dreary matches into comedy gold. There's also a mode that attempts 3D by pulling the action way back to look like a diorama. You probably won't want to fight your battles this way, but it's an interesting gimmick for a few rounds.

Although Neo Geo fans have been playing this for nearly two decades, this PlayStation version was never released outside of Japan. Thanks to MonkeyPaw Games, PlayStation 3, PS Vita and PSP owners finally have a chance to play this solid one-on-one fighter. It never quite matches the high of SNK and Capcom's best, but this Double Dragon adaptation is much better than the movie.
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