Review: Double Dragon 3: The Arcade Game (Sega Genesis)

In this review, we pull off the dropkick in the Sega Genesis game Double Dragon 3: the Arcade Game. We find out if this beat ’em up game is worth playing.

This game was released in 1992. We have some experience playing these games already. Previously, we played the NES version of the original Double Dragon. That game got a very mediocre score. Next, we tried the Atari 7800 version. That game didn’t make the grade. We also tried the Sega Genesis version. That game got the best score of the three versions. From there, we tried Double Dragon II – The Revenge for the NES. That game got a pretty decent score. So, we thought we’d continue on with the series by trying the third game in the series to see what it is like.

There is actually a fair bit of storyline in this game. In fact, the storyline is much more thorough than the first two games. The Double Dragon hero’s, Billy and Jimmy, go away to train for two years. Upon their return to the US, they meet a fortune teller. That fortune teller tells them to seek the Rosetta stone gems. If they succeed, they can take on a great menace. No one has ever survived the encounter, so the hero’s go off on their quest aided by this fortune teller. Maybe not the greatest premise for a video game, but it’s certainly detailed in comparison.

You start the game off with 15 coins. These coins represent free lives. However, you can actually spend these lives in the nearby store for special power ups. You can buy up to “5 guys” which seems to represent 5 additional lives. While that may seem redundant, the power up weapon allows you to become a more powerful fighter. For player 1, that character is Ronny. For player 2, that character is Sonny. With those “guys” you can retain that special power even if you die. However, lose all 5 “guys” and you’ll lose that power.

If player 2 “buys in”, then the total number of coins you get jumps to 19. Be warned, however, that this number is pooled. If player 2 buys in after this, then an additional coin is taken away. The pool of coins is never replenished.

There are a number of enemies you’ll encounter along the way. Enemies are generally tied to the theme of the level you are playing. While they generally have the same kind of health, each enemy has a special power to attack you with (with the exception of enemies in the US). Some enemies fire arrows at you. Others use whips to attack you. One kind of enemy can throw smoke bombs at you. Some even throw flying fists at you. You’ll find out what the special move is pretty quickly, but it takes some effort to try and adapt your fighting skills accordingly.

There are some special enemies along the way. The most common special enemy are the motorcycle riding enemies. These enemies will drive past you from left to right, then right to left. Each pass gives the enemy a chance to take you down. The only way to take them out is with a jump kick to knock them off and cause the motorcycle to explode. Another special enemy cannot be damaged. Instead, players must figure out a pattern on the floor to make an escape. A final special enemy is the spinning blade. While it cannot be harmed, it will knock you down for every successful pass on the screen.

You have 6 missions to complete. At the end of every mission, you’ll take on a boss. Defeat the boss, and you’ll move on to the next mission. Beat the boss in the final mission and you’ll win the game.

The first thing I found with this game is that the hit detection is a bit flawed. Sometimes, you can punch and kick, but ultimately miss because it went right past the enemy. While this isn’t as big of a problem in the game, the bigger problem comes in when characters move up and down. If you kick at an enemy, but are a few pixels off vertically, you’ll simply miss.

Another thing I found was that the game just wasn’t all that fun. Gameplay is ultimately a series of button mashing. While it is possible to get pretty far in the game, gameplay can be quite repetitive after a while. The only exception is the floor puzzle. That puzzle is ultimately more annoying than interesting. If you can’t solve it quickly, then you die pretty instantly. If you solve it, then the puzzle becomes the easiest thing in the world.

Thirdly, the game is quite short. You could spend an hour or two in the afternoon and get your fill of the game (whether or not you beat the game). It just doesn’t have any kind of lasting power as far as I’m concerned.

Generally speaking, this game promises a lot with being the third game in a series that has drawn its fans. Unfortunately, the game simply delivers a rather flat repetitive short game. While there is clearly effort to try and give the game story, and even give the game powerups to spice up the action, the gameplay gets pretty old quick.

Graphically speaking, the game is fairly average. This is a bit surprising considering the kind of horsepower the Genesis has to offer on this front. The characters are pretty average and the settings are alright. Probably the biggest flaw is visual feedback on when you land a punch. Even if you land several punches, it can be difficult to really tell if that punch was successfully landed – especially when enemies can return a punch so quickly. A pretty average effort in the end.

The audio is a mixed bag. While the first level does offer a fair bit of promise for the music in this game, the remaining levels just prove to be fairly flat. The sound effects are pretty run of the mill. The most useful sound is the knockout punch sound. That way, you can tell pretty quickly whether you get taken out or if an enemy is finally taken out. This is pretty important for this game given the chaos that can ensue, but it’s probably one of the only few strengths in this department.

Overall, this game offers a lot of promise, but under delivers. While developers did try and spice gameplay up with powerups and stores, gameplay quickly becomes repetitive. The hit detection becomes a real problem as soon as there is vertical movement. To make matters worse, this game only offers an hour or so of entertainment. After this, things get dull whether or not you win. The graphics are pretty average. The audio falls a bit short. So, overall, not the greatest game I’ve ever played. If you miss it, you won’t be missing much.

Furthest point in game: Died fighting the three mummies in Egypt.

General gameplay: 16/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 58%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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