|Release: TBA 2012|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Who would have thought that seventeen years after the franchise was killed by a horrible SNES fighting game, Double Dragon would come back to see its triumphant return on the Wii? I didn't, and playing video games is the only thing I enjoy doing … other than drinking.
The new reboot, entitled Double Dragon: The Dragon Returns, brings back Billy and Jimmy Lee to the mean streets of a Nintendo console, but this time their sister, Jenny Lee, is also along for the ride. Billy's girlfriend Marian is kidnapped once more by the mean gang known as the Black Warriors, and it's up to the Lee family to get her back. Unfortunately there are rumors going around that the developers are having a political correctness issue with the name "Black Warriors," so the name may be changed in the final work print to "The Opposing Gang."
Each Lee sibling has their own unique moves and abilities to use. Billy is a tough martial arts master, while Jenny is incredibly quick and acrobatic. Jimmy, on the other hand, has been remodeled to primarily rely on boxing moves when he fights, though his real strength comes in whining about how he has to save his brother's girlfriend, who I might add, he still has the hots for. In fact, they play up this aspect of his character so much in the game, players who choose Jimmy can actually decide to betray Billy at any point and turn to the dark side, in which case both players will have to fight each other before the game continues.
In case none of these options appeal to you, Double Dragon: The Dragon Comes Back, features a Create-a-Dragon mode as well. Here you get to make your very own member of the Lee's extended family. As you fight, you earn points to spend on fleshing out your character's fighting style. You also can spend these points on altering your character's appearance, and you have quite a few options to choose from. I gave my character a mullet, missing teeth, and a flannel jacket, and named him Billy Ray Lee, the hillbilly cousin of the Lees.
If this weren't enough, the game will feature DLC fighters as well. The first of which has already been revealed as Zitz from Battletoads. However, rumor has it that we may actually see appearances by the Ninja Turtles, Guy and Cody from Final Fight, the guys from River City Ransom, and even those little lizards from Bubble Bobble. Each fighter will cost 1000 Wii points, and will require you to have at least a 4GB memory card inserted into the system, and a new USB Nintendo DLC drive plugged into the back, which will retail for fifty dollars.
The game is controlled wholly via the Wii's motion controls. Shaking the Wiimote causes your character to punch while shaking the nunchuck causes your character to kick. You move your character with the analog stick, and the shoulder buttons use items. The game is fully compatible with the Wii Balance Board, which allows you to actually kick in order to make your character kick. Kicking and punching at the same time still triggers a special move, so be careful not to fall! For the hardest of the hardcore, a classic control scheme is available to be unlocked if you manage to beat the game on ultra-hard mode, but good luck with that.
In ultra-hard mode, every attack is a one hit kill and your punches and kicks will randomly not come out. Not only that, but sometimes random flaming rocks will fall and kill Billy and Jimmy for no reason, and some power-ups are poison now so be careful what you eat off the street! If you die in ultra-hard mode, the game even wipes your save file! You asked for old school Nintendo hard and you got it, but just in case this is too much for you, you can choose very easy mode instead, which makes every enemy die in one hit, and allows you to skip stages at any point, even right up to the end credits.
Though the game is rendered in 3D polygons, it looks like classic Double Dragon. All your favorite classic enemies come back like Abobo and … Abobo. In fact there is one level where you have to fight through 375 Abobos before fighting one gigantic Abobo at the end! That's nostalgia!
Billy and Jimmy are wearing their classic red and blue jeans and vests, but a big part of the game is customizing your characters' costumes. As you go through the game you can find hats, shirts, jeans, and accessories to totally customize your character's look. As a nod to the fans, you can actually unlock the horrible costumes Billy and Jimmy wore in the 1993 Double Dragon animated series.
Speaking of horrible things from the nineties, the game actually does away with CGI and instead tells its entire story through the time honored tradition of full motion video. Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos return to the roles of Billy and Jimmy Lee from their breakout performances in the 1994 Double Dragon movie. In the demo we played, there is a half hour cutscene between stages one and two where Wolf portraying Billy laments the loss of his girlfriend, and oddly enough it doesn't get boring! Maybe it's because Michael Bay was brought on as the FMV director, and constant explosions are going off in the FMV scenes, even if the scene doesn't call for an explosion. For example, the lamentation scene takes place in Billy's bedroom and he is the only character in the scene, but his TV explodes for no reason! It's awesome!
The game features four player online and offline co-op play. Voice chat is not included, but you will be able to control a qwerty keyboard with the Wii Balance Board in order to talk to people you are playing with. All you need is to input your friend's fifty-character friend code and then you can play with them as much as you like. Unfortunately the game doesn't show who is online when you look at your buddy list so you actually have to call up your friend to see if he is playing before you request a game with him.
In a first for online Nintendo games, Double Dragon: Enter The Dragon actually lets you send friend requests to people you meet online. The game will display your phone number and personal information on a gamer card which other players can check in online games. That way they can call you up or drive to your house to ask you what your friend code is. Brilliant!
Overall, Double Dragon: The Doublest Dragonest is shaping up to be an awesome game. It's everything that made games in the nineties great combined with everything that made the Wii the bestselling console it is today. Be on the lookout for Triple Dragon: Quadruple Dragon to release in 2012, on the day after the Mayan apocalypse.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
CCC Freelance Writer