Developed by Million and published by Atlus in 2003.
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1 Player Game: 0:00
2 Player (Solo): 45:57
Anyone who's watched any of my longplays/read my reviews knows that I'm a big fan of the original Double Dragon arcade game by Technos. I remember reading about Double Dragon Advance before it first came out and was excited to see what the developers would do with the game.
Considering the trend for remakes of retro games these days involves giving the graphics a (blurry) HD overhaul, maybe add some online multiplayer capabilities and slap a £10 price tag on it, the guys at Million really went to town on Double Dragon Advance and showed the rest of the industry just how a remake should be done.
If I had to sum the game up, it would be a like a "Greatest Hits" album. The best features from the first two arcade games and some of the console releases have been blended together to produce a version of Double Dragon that easily beats the original game in terms of playability, yet manages to retain everything that was fun about the game and then goes one step further.
The game's plot is just the same as it always was. Twin martial artist brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee, are on a mission to rescue Billy's girlfriend from the clutches of Willy, the evil leader of the Black Shadow Warriors. Although the story really isn't that important, Million added both an introduction and cut-scenes at the end of each stage.
The game's graphics have been almost entirely redrawn, but everything retains the core essence of the original game, just with much more detail. HD resolutions weren't available on consoles back in 2003, let alone on the tiny screen of the Gameboy Advance, but the graphics do look really good indeed!
The fighting move roster has been expanded considerably over the original arcade version. Moves from Double Dragon and Double Dragon II, such as the shoulder throw and spin-kick, have been combined with additional moves to create what is possibly the biggest move-set for a side-scrolling beat 'em up.
New weapons, such as kali sticks and nunchuku, have been added alongside old favourites like the baseball bat. The new weapons are absolutely devastating and make short work of any enemy that gets in your way and, most importantly, are great fun to use.
In fact, DDA is all about having fun. We all know how much fun it was to throw bad guys into the river on stage three, or down the conveyor belt on stage two. Well, there's a new level full of pools just begging for enemies to hurled into them; the game gives you a pair of kali sticks to do the job and them serves up a number of ridiculous palette-swapped Abobo's in all colours of the rainbow for you to go nuts on. Even the end of level boss can be dunked for good measure.
New game modes have been added to justify the cost of a retail release. The survival mode is a straightforward, round-based fight against the clock where you must defeat waves of increasingly tough enemies in order to achieve the best possible ranking.
There's also a somewhat curious addition of a game mode that allows you to play a single player game with both Billy and Jimmy in play simultaneously. Pressing the SELECT button switches between the active character, proceeded by a flashing marker to show which character is being controlled.. At first this seems like a strange decision; why on Earth would you want to try and play a two-player game on your own? The funny thing is that it's actually quite compelling trying to juggle both characters and to stay alive till the end of the game. It's a seemingly impossible task, but it does at least allow a single player to see the alternate ending where Billy and Jimmy decide to duke it out as to who's going to date Marian. I originally intended to just do a longplay of the 1-player game, but I was so intrigued with the 2-player solo mode that I included a separate playthrough at 45:57.
It's fair to say that I had lots of fun recording Double Dragon Advance for this video. In fact, I ended up rerecording much of the game in a slightly obsessive manner to try and get the coolest choreographed results from each fight, even down to throwing away weapons and taking on bad guys hand-to-hand out of sheer defiance!
The one and only shortcoming the game has is the GBA's screen resolution of 240 x 160 pixels, meaning that there's a degree of vertical scrolling to show the whole playfield that wasn't in the original game. Even so, Million did a really great job in scaling everything to an appropriate size for the new form factor.
Double Dragon Advance adds plenty of new content to keep things fresh, whilst managing to keep it's old-school roots in tact. This is a brilliant update of an already-great game and I can only wish that all remakes were as successful as this.