Super Double Dragon
by Polly

Ahh, Double Dragon. The always-flawed, yet somehow fun series of beat-em-ups that rose to prominence in the 8-bit era and all but disappeared during the mid-1990s. Before Streets of Rage there was Double Dragon and River City Ransom for those times you wanted to punch someone's eyeballs clean out the fucking back of their skull. Well, I guess if I'm gonna get technical, there was really only River City Ransom and Double Dragon II: The Revenge on NES. The first Double Dragon home port was fairly shitty because it lacked 2 player simultaneous play and was bugged as all hell, and Double Dragon III was simply too hard for most and really wasn't all that fun with two players.

Super Double Dragon brings the series into the 16-bit era, kicking and screaming, while promising an all-new adventure with tons of new moves, tougher enemies, and non-stop action. It was never really high on the priority list of games I was excited to see make the 16-bit jump, but needless to say I was intrigued. Even at the tender age of twelve, I was rather fond of mindless violence, so this one held some promise for me, even if I was never really the biggest fan of the series.

Of course, the first time you fired up a spankin' new 16-bit game back in the day, I've no doubt you were all as slack-jawed stupid as me. Especially if it was a series you were already familiar with making the leap. There's just something about more colors and frames of animation that make you see things differently. Like you're seeing more colors and frames of animation or something! Freaky! Super Double Dragon definitely did a fine job of taking the style it had already established in the 8-bit era and spiffying it up for the new frontier. Character and enemy sprites were just about as big, but sported a lot more detail and fluidity in their attacks and other animations. Backgrounds look just as good and, once again, are done in the same style as the 8-bit iterations' were, just given a proper amount of color and detail to make them nice to look at.

Sound and music are kind of a mixed bag. If I had to describe Super Double Dragon's music in a word it'd be...hmm....Relaxing? True, a lot of Streets of Rage's tunes are fairly laid-back and mellow, but Super Double Dragon's always seemed a bit too laid back to me. Like I could always hear them played over the Wal-Mart PA systems or in a lounge or something. None of it is really all that memorable aside from the opening stage's theme and a 16-bit-ized version of the old familiar Double Dragon theme. The sound effects are adequate and have the right amount of POW and CRUNCH for attacks. The voice samples are fuckin' awful, with the death voice sample sounding like something you'd hear if a turd could barf.

Moving onto gameplay is when we'll begin to see everything just fall the fuck apart. But, I like to try and be an optimist at least three times a year, so with that said, let's hit the positive stuff first.

Super Double Dragon smooths out a lot of the control issues many had with the original trilogy over the years. Due to the SNES' addition of two more face buttons, you're now given a dedicated button for jumping as opposed to having to use punch + kick. Billy and Jimmy Lee are also granted access to a whole new arsenal of varied punch combos, kick combos, and a whole slew of new grappling moves which are tied to the fancy block button. You also have a dragon power meter you can charge for classic moves like the Cyclone Spin Kick or hulk up and make your attacks a bit stronger for a short while. That's all well and good, because these are really damn good fix-ups to a game that really needed them. Too bad they had to end up in a game that doesn't work that well around them at all...

At best, Super Double Dragon is a fucking chore to play, and at worst it's just god damn unplayable and highly sleep-inducing. I honestly didn't have it in me to try and slog through the whole damn thing for screenshots, because the game is literally that fucking boring and bullshitty. Why is it boring and bullshitty? Welllll...

The biggest problem might be the fact that at all times the game runs at an almost staggering 10 frames per-second or something. You're literally playing the game in slow-god-damn motion all the time. Super Double Dragon was bullet-time before bullet-time was bullet-time. Even if the game played twice its speed, it'd be a marked improvement. Were they so happy with all those newfangle-dangled extra frames of animation that they had to slow the gameplay down so much so I got to see every single one?

It really doesn't help matters that all the stages are so god damn long, either. Every encounter drags on for CENTURIES not only because of the game's natively awful play-speed, but also because every enemy in the game has about 400,000,000 more hit points than they should. It feels like you're pounding on the same damn enemy for far too long before they give up the ghost. Making matters worse is the fact that the game has such a small enemy variety. Get used to the guys you see in the first stage, because beyond that, you're not getting much else other than bosses. And don't even get me started on their health... You'll just keep pounding and pounding and pounding and pounding and pounding and pounding....and pounding and pounding........and pounding on them until you either wear out the face buttons on your gamepad or huck the game out the window from boredom.

Fun fact: the game's cartridge actually defies all laws of gravity and physics and flies through the air at 10 frames per-second.

I could never really think of it as a disappointment, just one really obvious and incredibly dumb mistake. I mean, seriously, how do you not realize your game plays this fucking slow, and if you do realize it does, why aren't you correcting it? With its moveset, some fucking speed, and about 20 more kinds of enemies, Super Double Dragon could have been a contender. Instead it's just so fucking boring that I really don't wanna write about it anymore.

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