Yay Double Dragon, one of the greatest side scrolling beat em ups of its time, and forefather to many clones that came thereafter. Everyone’s heard about it, played and loved it…probably. So when teaser shots starting to circulate in computer magazines of the time regarding a very belated home conversion on the Commodore 64 you can imaging the whooping and a hollering from a young StiGGy. Not only that but is was being produced by ‘ Way of the Exploding Fist’ – Melbourne House.
Didn’t read the reviews, went out on release day, slammed down my hard earned cash and raced home to play it. Ooooooh dear…….what waste of a great license and missed opportunity….epic fail and amost 25 years later, I still shudder at the thought of it. A fine example of how not to make a beat em up and it should be added to the ‘Rise of the Robots’ wall of shame.
Interestingly though, I was reading a friends Facebook feed post regarding an eBay auctioncog a different version of Double Dragon for the C64. It was in cartridge format and produced by the mighty Ocean software for the Commodore 64GS games console. Athough a completed game, it never recieved an official release due to the short lifespan of the failed console and therefore examples of this very rare cartridge are few and far between and thus highly collectable. This particular eBay auction finished at just over £400!!
Way beyond my meagre budget, but interested to take a look at it in action as i was not aware of this other release, I headed off to the interweb to see if I could find a .crt dump. My first port of call was to have a look at Matt’s (Mayhem) web site. I got chatting with him at Eurocon a few years and as as avid Commodore cartridge collector thought that if anyone would have it he would!…and he did!
Image downloaded, copied to my SD2IEC and being flashed to my C64 Easyflash cart.
Starting the cart on my c64c
Nice menu screen to match the arcade original and a pretty decent rendition of the main DD theme music – although there’s quite a bit of artistic interpretation here aka it’s doesn’t sound anything like it at times 🙂
Well, it certainly looks a little bit better than Melbourne House’s attempt and not a hint of that awful graphical clitch that sees body split from legs. The characters are a bit chunky looking though and for a late Commodore release, you’d think the background GFX would have been better drawn. Complete game yes, but maybe only at a prelimary stage?
Well after playing it for an hour or so, I can safely say that this plays better than The Melbourne House version….but it’s still dire. Bad collision, dodgy animation, very limited opponent types, weapons that are not displayed when picked up, steep difficulty curve despite the multiple continues, lack of any of the little features that made the arcade original so great (bearing in mind that this was a 32k cartridge release and could have easily contained them) and moves that are limited and ineffective ..apart from the headbutt which is fun for a while.
C64 collector or not, if i’d paid £400 for it, i’d be sweating a lot about now 🙂
It looks like Double Dragon on the C64 just wasn’t to be. If you’ve not played it, give it a go, go on I dare you 😉