Super Double DragonMario did it; Zelda did it; why not Double Dragon? You might be asking what it is that they've all done? Jump to 16-bit, or advance technologically. Whenever a series does well enough on an older console, it'll inevitably jump to the next level. Unfortunately for Double Dragon, that's... kind of all it did. Whereas Super Mario World and A Link To The Past were excellent games that topped their NES prequels, Super Double Dragon is actually a little worse than the last two NES games... hmm... Well, I suppose a quick look at the ins and outs of the game wouldn't hurt..
Story: From the get go, this game disappoints me. No intro scene to tell us about the events that are about to unfold; it's up to us to interpret what happens throughout the game! But hold up, this isn't some artsy masterpiece; this is a friggen beat em up, right down to the smallest detail! From what I could gather, Billy and Jimmy Lee have to *bleep* shit up. Seriously, that's all the game tells you. No little scenes in between the levels, which is a tragic disappointment, considering that the NES games had some still shots and text detailing (quickly) the next set of events. It'd make sense to up the ante with more advanced technology, but I guess giving a shit wasn't on Technos's to-do list. Yeah yeah, "read the instruction manual" - that doesn't stop me from being disappointed in Technos for forgetting some scenes between levels when they remembered them while doing the NES games!
Gameplay: Just like the NES Double Dragons, Super Double Dragon is a beat em up. The objective is to beat the shit out of any thug that comes your way. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of platforming, except for one part, which you'd think would be a *bleep*ing miracle, except we have a jump button... a jump button, meaning one button needed for jumping... maybe they were opting for something akin to Final Fight and Streets Of Rage (see: NO platforming). The only problem is that those games are faster and more interesting.
After such harsh difficulty from Double Dragon 3, you'd expect Super Double Dragon to take it easy on you. Nope. On top of ganging up on you, these thugs love to block. Yeah - BLOCK! Either that, or just walk near you and stand there for a few seconds after stopping before attacking (obviously, Ubisoft took notes - just look at Assassin's Creed, the enemy AI just stands there while you pick off a guard!). As a result, things can get pretty challenging - don't expect to finish this on your first playthrough. This isn't quite Double Dragon 3, but despite braindead AI, they can still be cheap, especially since after a second consecutive hit, you'll be dazed and confused, vulnerable, and enemies just love taking advantage of this. In an effort to balance it out, when you lose all of your lives, you'll reappear where you just died - so basically, lose all of your lives against a boss, and instead of heading back to the beginning of the level, you'll reappear in the boss room as if you only lost a life. Hey, anything to keep this game moving - we aren't getting any younger here!
Unfortunately, the major downfall of this game is that it's just so *bleep*ing average! I'll admit that it was quite a nice touch giving us the ability to block and counterattack with the same button, as well as being able to use a power gauge of sorts to unleash stronger attacks like the hurricane kick and such, and it's also nice of them to not let bullshit platforming segments wreck the pace of the game. Unfortunately, when you take the competition into consideration, as well as the fact that all you're really doing in each level is beating up droves upon droves of bad guys who all use practically the same tactics as one another, well, it just gets boring! Games like Final Fight and Streets Of Rage manage to keep things interesting; Super Double Dragon constantly remains average, slow and boring, and no amount of soda will keep you awake.
Controls: At least Technos decided to improve on the controls. First of all, the jumping command is assigned to a single button. Yay! Just a shame that there aren't any platforming segments! Next off, by holding both of the shoulder buttons, you can fill up the power gauge - just don't get hit, or it'll reset. By filling it up, you can use the d-pad and buttons in combination with one another to perform hurricane kicks and flips! Definitely a much better control scheme than cramming everything within two buttons, by far!
Graphics: Hot damn, these graphics are pretty nice. There isn't much in the way of mode-7, except for the logo, which looks pretty damn shiny and awesome. The surroundings - like cities, dojos, slums, and mountains - are full of detail, and are fairly colorful. The enemies will definitely scream "THUG" upon first glance, with their tattered clothes and "don't *bleep* with me" sort of facial features and bodies, while the Lee brothers look like people you could trust... oh, and there's a decent amount of attention paid to detail in the construction of each of these models. There isn't any flicker or lag to disturb you or to ruin the graphics - awesome!
Audio: Eh, I didn't like the soundtrack all that much. I'll admit that it sounded good, but it didn't really make the game any more interesting, and the tracks aren't all that memorable... well, except for the remixes, but those are naturally good songs (if you're unsure, the title and first level tracks from the first game are remixed here) and therefore, shouldn't really count because they're the only really good, memorable tracks. Sound effects, strangely, aren't that impressive.. they just sound generic, mediocre and forgettable, which is odd, considering that Double Dragons 2 and 3 had impressive sound effects... eh, guess they couldn't get it right with the SNES's soundboard.
Replay Value: Out of all of the Double Dragons, this is, by far, the least interesting of the bunch. I was glad by the time I finished for the first time in years (subsequently remembering why I haven't played it in years), and didn't even want to touch it the second time. I suppose, if you want to squeeze some replay value out of this, there's two player simultaneous play, but honestly, who gives a shit at this point? Consider the replay value mark a generous offering, because there are some people out there who could replay this a few more times - I could make this all 100% personal opinion if I wanted to!
Overall: Super Double Dragon is the game that could've attained greatness if it kept up with the competition. Unfortunately, it was just too damn average for its own good! Double Dragon never really felt like an excellent series, but in my heart, I always felt that it could really excel and ascend... guess not, because.. well, what did we get later? A lame fighting game and a GBA port? Guess this goose got fried and sent to hell before it could really do much. Oh well.