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Double Dragon - The Atari Times

Double Dragon

The world's greatest team fighting back-to-back on... the 2600
by Brendan Onfrichuk

February 11, 2007
Yes, you heard me correctly. Double Dragon got a release on the Atari 2600. Like most people, I played Double Dragon for hours on end with my brother. What is there to hate about a game that transformed the two of us into buff vigilantes with a score to settle. We would walk down the streets of the game with a wooden bat in hand and blood stained jackets. Because most kids enjoyed playing this very popular game in the arcades corporate stooges would cash in on the side-scrolling buddy fighter craze that soon followed Double Dragon with good and bad results. Activision was lucky to get their hands on the official license to Double Dragon and they released this version late in the 2600's lifespan. This was a surprising move, because most people would think that Atari's old 8-bit wonder would be under-powered to pull off a good port of the game, just like I thought when my dad brought my brother and I this game home to our wide eyes and smiles.


In the game, a gang called the black warriors have kidnapped your girlfriend, you and your brother have to make your way through the city streets to their hide-out and defeat their uzi-wielding boss to get her back. Most of the game consists of beating up varieties of thugs with martial arts moves and weapons. Most moves from the original arcade game are in here such as punch, kick, jump-kick and elbow jab but the roundhouse kick is missing. The weapons you can use in this version are knife, baseball bat or oil-drum, the whip is missing unfortunately. You move through the streets from left to right and enemies are waiting for you at different points. You cannot help out your partner if you are playing 2-player because the street is then split with an invisible wall down the middle. This is not a huge problem because in the arcade you made a point to not get in each others way but this detracts from the experience a little. The thugs have all the same moves as Billy and Jimmy which wasn't true in the arcades. This does make the gameplay in this version harder and take a little getting used to. At the end of each level a fist with a thumb pointing in the direction of the next level appears on the screen just like in the arcade. The gameplay is fun and intact from the original.


These may be the best graphics the 2600 has ever pumped out. Background scenery is recognizable from the original. Billy and Jimmy look fine enough even though you cannot see any details on their jacket. The "regular" thugs seem to use a similar sprite which is fine. Other recognizable enemies from the original make an appearance like the big body builders. You can even see a nice sunset at one part of the first level which use a nice rainbow graphic effect. But it looks like Double Dragon and that is all you can ask for from the 2600.


This is where the game takes a small turn for the worse. To make up for the 2600's one button joystick you have to hold down a direction and press the button to execute that move. For example you hold down and press a button to kick, you hold up and press a button to jump-kick. But this becomes a problem when you want to move in one direction and execute a move not associated with that direction. It causes some undeserved deaths. The controls scheme is hard on your wrists during prolonged play and that becomes a big problem, especially since you can't finish the game without trying many times. It takes a lot of practice to get down the rhythm of the game.


Easily the best music on the 2600. The theme for Double Dragon echoes through the entire game. Its very up-beat and well done. The sound effects are more than what you would expect, punch and kick sounds along with slice and swinging noises with your bat. Overall the sound is well done and is easier on the ears than any other 2600 game ever made.


Double Dragon is as faithful as it could ever be on the 2600. While it isn't as fun as other versions of the game and the missing features are a bummer you will have a lot of fun with this cartridge. And you should get a friend to play with you because it makes the game 2x more enjoyable. You can even duke it out in the vs. mode and play a one on one fighter. Or you can use that mode to practice the different moves. But you should pick up this game if you are a fan of the genre and you won't be disappointed.

Double Dragon

(c) Activision

Way to go Activision!
Is that Jimmy or Billy?
This is one TOUGH game!
Double Dragon
System: 2600
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Fighting
Graphics Score: 90%
Sound & Music Score: 100%
Gameplay Score: 75%
Control Score: 60%

Final Score: 80%

Reader Comments for Double Dragon

Tough Abobos by Mark on 2007-02-12 23:32:26
Those guys really knew how to kick you when you were down in this version of DD!
The game that you would never dream possible by Pete on 2007-03-17 07:43:02
Double Dragon came out long after Atari was dead it was 1 of the last releases...and while Nintendo version was graphicaly seperior at least the Atari version was 2 player. Comparing this to games that came out for the system a couple of yrs earlier and you would of never dreamed it to be possible of course the same can be said of California Games, Rampage, and Ghostbusters
Hmmm... by Greg George on 2014-02-10 22:50:42
This is a tough game... Probably shouldn't have been ported to the 2600, but it makes for a great conversation starter!
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