Double Dragon

March 14, 2011

We spent a lot of time with the original Double Dragon back in the day, guiding Billy and Jimmy through hordes of bad guys and, whenever possible, getting in some quality face-punching. We’ve never been big fans of iOS action games with virtual buttons, but for Double Dragon we had to give it a shot.

The game features updated graphics that somehow manage to retain the spirit of the originals, which is basically the best of both worlds. It still feels like Double Dragon, and though the D-pad is rather finicky, it’s a virtual control scheme and we’ve conceded we’re swallowing the bitter pill. The game features six levels, with four approximating the originals and two unique creations. 

The important thing, though? You can totally punch people in the face. Or torso, or side, or what have you. If you get tired of punching, you can kick or jump, but we think that just takes time away that you could use for punching.

Double Dragon supports two control schemes: one that combines the kick and punch buttons and makes combos a bit simpler, and one classic mode that gives you the full complement of moves. Those who are a bit more hardcore will want the extra control, but the simple mode will have its fans.

Clearly the best way to play is with a friend, and Double Dragon supports local multiplayer over Bluetooth. If you have no iFriends or are just playing alone, the game has leaderboards for highest score and best time for each of the levels. 

Where Double Dragon for iPhone really shines is with the breadth of unlockable bonus characters. There are 24 of them. (For those counting at home, that’s 1200% more characters.) These are versions of the game’s enemies, and each has its own (somewhat limited) set of moves. They’re not better, but they’re a fun change of pace.

Now for the caveats: at a launch price of $3.99 and a permanent price of $6.99, Double Dragon isn’t the cheapest app in the world. Also, virtual buttons. They’re not a good thing. Finally, this isn’t universal, and it probably won’t be, so iPad users won’t want crazy-big controls. Ultimately, it’s worth a look for those who want to punch some faces. 

Pros: Slick graphics, many unlockable characters

Cons: Virtual buttons and the general concept that they are a bad idea

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.