Double Dragon Trilogy is the latest app from DotEmu, who have previously published iOS arcade ports like Metal Slug 3 and Raiden Legacy. As the name implies, Double Dragon Trilogy consists of ports of the three original Double Dragon games. While these are perfect ports of the arcade originals, a handful of new features come off as less then perfect.
For those not familiar with Double Dragon, it’s a pretty straightforward concept: One or two players make their way from one side of the level to the other, making sure to beat up everyone who gets in their way. There is a story, but only just barely– that was never the point of beat ‘em ups.
Each of the games comes with two modes of play: Arcade Mode and Story Mode. The Arcade Mode versions play just as you would expect, with players being challenged to finish the game in one sitting. The original version of Double Dragon Trilogy came with a bit of a steep difficulty curve, forcing players to attempt a playthrough with just the default lives.
Version 1.1 addresses this by allowing for some continues. However, the implementation of this new feature is a bit odd. Each of the games seem to have a different number of continues, with no way to adjust them. It’s better than nothing, and players now have a fair chance of completing each of the games, but some level of control would be appreciated.
In Story Mode, players are allowed to select any of the levels they have previously cleared. This is a nice feature, and it allows fans to return to their favorite levels. The issue is that the implementation is less than intuitive. Let’s say that you finished level two, and while in level three, you lose all your lives. Well, you have to finish level two again for another attempt at level three. It’s a nice idea, but it would have made more sense if players gained access to a new level after completing the previous one.
Each of the game modes also has three difficulty levels. In Original, enemies have the same health and deal the same damage they did in the arcade. On Expert, enemies do more damage and have more health. If you play in Mobile mode, enemies have less health but seem to do the same damage as original. This Mobile difficulty was an admirable attempt to make Double Dragon Trilogy a more user-friendly experience, but the problem with playing on a mobile device has less to do with the enemies and everything to do with the controls.
The original Double Dragon games have horrible controls, due to the fact that you only had eight points of movement. In the arcades this was bearable, because a joystick gives you the necessary tactile response, but a touch interface does not. Other reviewers at Slide To Play tried using recent iOS 7-compatible controller accessories with Double Dragon Trilogy, but these were overly sensitive and didn’t ease the clunky movement controls. If Mobile mode had taken advantage of the full range of motion you have with an analog interface, this might have made for a more enjoyable experience.
Now, what would Double Dragon be without multiplayer? Unfortunately, in this game it’s Bluetooth only. The feature works and does allow for some good, old-fashioned arcade action, but in this day and age there is no reason to skip network play. Unless you have a friend close by, you aren’t going to be doing much Double Dragoning.
To round things out, Double Dragon 1 and 2 have an option to change the music to remixed versions, which are rather catchy. The games also let you change the video settings, so you can turn on scanlines.
The original Double Dragon games are classics. I dropped more than my share of quarters into them as a kid, and despite what it may seem I actually am a fan. The design issues can be overlooked as products of the time, when developers just wanted to put some action into the arcades, but those days are long gone now.
The flaws from the originals do not translate well to today’s market. And unfortunately, DotEmu has done little to address this. Still, these are exact ports, and if you can overlook the controls and some of the rough edges, Double Dragon Trilogy might take you back to the arcades of old.