Kurt Kalata’s excellent review puts it better than I ever could :
“It’s an arguable point that Double Dragon started the whole beat-em-up genre. You know, the type where you control some character who has to wander through a town and beat the crap out of every bad guy nearby. It’s even more startling when you learn that the game that started it all really isn’t all that impressive.
As the opening screen states, Marian is standing in the middle of the street when a big bad dude comes up, slugs her in the stomach, slings her over his shoulder and takes her off. This evil gang (supposedly being led by the hero’s brother Jimmy), for whatever reason, decided to capture her. Well, as Billy Lee, you’re off to rescue your girlfriend.
The game’s a simple walk forward and smash the crud out of any bad guys. However, this is Tradewest’s version of the arcade hit. The most glaring omission is the lack of a two player mode. Yep, this is a one player only affair, so don’t expect to plow through the bad guys with a friend. To compensate, a tournament mode is included that allows you to pick one of the game’s characters and pit them together in a small enclosed arena. These scenes can be played in two player, although the game simply ends once one persons dies…there’s no continuity in this mode, just quick bursts of fun. They also play a bit differently, with different sets of moves and the ability to run. It’s nice to play as the enemy characters, and everyone is drawn quite a bit bigger and better looking than in the actual game.
Another interesting twist is that Billy Lee gains more techniques as the game goes on. Each time you hit an enemy, you get some heart points. Once that number reaches 1000, you gain another technique. Although this is an interesting way to introduce new techniques, it’s kinda stupid to start the game without the ability to jump kick. Some of the moves are rather cool though, like punching enemies in the face when they’re lying on the ground. If that wasn’t enough, Tradewest added a couple areas in the game that weren’t in the arcade version (like the cave in level 3…” (Full Review at Classicgaming.com)
My personal opinion – it’s a fun game. I can remember playing it with a friend on the C64 a long time ago and having a ball. One thing that sticks out in my mmind is the fact that you could inflict damage on the person playing with you (indeed, at one point you have to fight them), not a big thing, but it’s oh so fun to stab someone in the back 😉
It is a good game, not brilliant when compared to others beat-em-ups such as Final Fight or the console classic Streets of Rage, but fun nonetheless.