It may have passed largely unnoticed amidst all the excitement about Lucasarts, but GOG recently announced the addition of the Double Dragon trilogy to their catalogue. As far as I can tell, it looks like a new package, based on the original arcade ROMS, with a new overlay and a few extra features.

[A quick note – no, we do not have any kind of commercial or affiliate deal with GOG or anyone else! I know we’ve been mentioning them a lot recently.]

The first Double Dragon was one of those titles ported to every system under the sun; even the Atari Lynx got a version, although it arrived so late in the system’s commercial life that even die-hard Lynx bods had largely given up (it was one of a series of games produced by Telegames, who also brought ports of Megadrive hits European Club Soccer and Desert Strike to the system).

There was a DOS port, too, and I briefly considered it for review on FFG, only to discount it because I couldn’t get the controls to work. Also, it kind of fell into the category of ‘there are so many versions of this, why on earth would you play this one?’

I didn’t even have any past experience of Double Dragon on PC – mine came with the Atari ST version, which came bundled with our machine (I think it was called the ‘powerpack’, or something similar) along with a number of other arcade ports that would never have been purchased for the family machine otherwise. (With good reason – one or two exceptions aside, they weren’t particularly good, and much of the excitement felt at graduating from an 8-bit system dissipated as I realised that the 16-bit graphics I used to marvel at in multi-format adverts didn’t always look so impressive in motion.)

These huge guys make a comedy 'rah' noise.

These huge guys make a comedy ‘rah’ noise.

Returning to it years later confirmed my two main memories: 1) the menu music is a bit repetitive but quite good, and 2) the whole thing is a bit easy and can be finished in half an hour or so. I suppose you could argue that the lack of challenge is down to the generous number of continues on offer, and that attempting to finish on one credit might be more difficult, but it’d be a desperate player indeed who didn’t mindlessly autopilot through the whole thing for the purposes of nostalgia and then never touch it again.

"Do you use mousse, or hairspray?"

“Do you use mousse, or hairspray?”

As a kid, though, I loved it, seeing as games were a million times harder in those days and I had rarely come anywhere near to seeing the end of any of the ones in our collection. It was quite refreshing to me at the time just to be able to get through something without too much skill or endeavour.

Like many home computer ports, the ST version is slightly hobbled by the fact that you only have one joystick button at your disposal, and so in a beat-em-up environment tend to pull off different moves by accident rather than design. There’s not a lot to it really – just a lot of button bashing as fist or foot (or one of the game’s many weapons) hits flesh again and again (here represented by the sound of a football being punctured).

Things that I thought were a bit weird, even at the time:

1) Should you really be punching quite so many women in the face, even if they do arrive mysteriously in a lift and start trying to whip you for no reason?
2) Also: why do these women have the same bouffant hairdo as the player character? (Answer: it was the 80s)
3) The final guy at the end has a gun. A GUN. There are no circumstances under which he should not be able to defeat you.

I am a big man, yes I am; and I have a big gun.

I am a big man, yes I am, and I have a big gun.

(I tried the ST version of the second game but gave up after 10 seconds because it didn’t seem to have any sound. Maybe I’ll pick up the GOG trilogy at some point, I imagine the arcade originals are likely to be a lot better…)