Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone logo

STORM * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Poor old Jimmy and Billy Dragon. Their lot is not a happy one. Not only do they keep having to nip around all over the world to rescue their "babe", but they have also got the most inappropriate names in a beat-'em-up ever - Jimmy and Billy. Very butch. Might as well just call them Smeg and Bep. Or John and Norma. An unhappy lot indeed.

Well they ain't out of the fire yet. Despite having finally dumped their kidnap-prone missus, they are still "doing the business" and kicking rear ends all over the globe. The reason? Stones. Yes, it seems that they have bumped into some wizened old gypsy dude who told them to risk life and limb and go and fetch some spooky bricks back from various foreign climes. And being stupid gets, Jimmy and Billy go along with it. Pillocks.

Now this could be my imagination, but aren't there a series of really crap adverts for a certain brand of bitter in which two jolly northern working men's club types travel the world and talk about - gasp - Stones?

Could be this the world's first bitter-'em-up? Is there a bonus level where you have to earn extra lives by making unimaginative semi-racist jokes at the locals' expense and laughing in loud raucous tones? Er, actually no. Thank God.

It is, pop pickers, merely a beat-'em-up. Plain and simple. Various joystick manoeuvres twist our heroes into a selection of fighting moves, all of which bring a tear to the eye and a twang to the underwear. Weapons can be purchased from shops, as can extra lives, energy and special moves. The shop sections try to inject a little bit of novelty into the proceedings, but fail in no uncertain terms. The instructions mention nothing of the shops, so there's no way of knowing what weapons you'll get, or what moves, or anything. It is all hit and miss until you can suss out what you will get for yer money.

The instructions really are dismal. They tell you how to perform the various moves, but there is no mention how to get extra coins, or what special actions are available. It seems a bit pointless to include a feature like the shop in the game and then not explain it. I don't know. Grumble, grumble. That aside, DD3 is a competent beat-'em-up. It is nothing we have not seen a hundred times before, but it is slick and smooth so we will let that pass. Things have been planned well, so there is none of your Final Fight "finish it in half an hour" malarkey here.

And so we come to those last few "summing up" paragraphs. The graphics could have been better. The backgrounds are detailed and there are plenty of boxes and things to leap about on. The sprites look suitably, er, spritely and they skip about in a jolyy, if somewhat mincing, fashion. But they lack that extra "shazam" that makes you go "Ooh look at the shazam on those sprites".

Sound is restricted to a rather nice trickling stream/tune at the beginning and some solid FX. As with the graphics, the sound is good but not good enough to leave an impression.

To be fair, Double Dragon 3 is a lot better than most of the lacklustre beat-'em-ups that the software houses churn out. Unfortunately, it is not different enough to make you go "Oh yeh, Double Dragon 3. That's the one with the famous cottage cheese sub-section". Instead, you will probably go "Oh yeh, Double Dragon . That's another Double Dragon game isn't it?" Ah well, another day, another beat- 'em-up.

Ist's schon Frühling - die Drachen schlagen aus!

Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone logo

Vor rund drei Jahren schwang "Double Dragon" am Amiga mehr schlecht als recht die Fauste. 12 Monate später feierten die fetzigen Drachen ein furioses Comeback. Und jetzt ist wieder Prügelzeit!

Sind alle guten Dinge drei? Ist der dritte Teil wieder eine Top-klopperei? Jawollo, er ist! Schließlich hat sich Sales Curve der Automaten Vorlage angenommen, also jene Jungs denen wir Action-Knaller wie "Silkworm" und "Ninja Warriors" verdanken - warum sollte da ausgerechnet Double Dragon III aus der Art schlagen?

Erstaunlicherweise wurde diesmal auch keine Freundin entführt, stattdessen sollen die streitbaren Lee-Brüder den wertvollen Rosetta-Edelstein aus Ägypten holen. Der Weg zu den Pyramiden ist weit, besonders, wenn man sich wie hier quer durch Amerika, Asien und Europa prügeln muß.

Inhaltlich also doch wenig Neues: Genau wie im zweiten Teil der Schläger-Saga wollen fünf Missionen überstanden sein, noch immer kämpft man vor horizontal scrollender Kulisse gegen ein Zeitlimit, beinharte Motorradrocker und schnittige Samurais. Die obligatorischen Überbosse fehlen ebensowenig wie der tolle Zwei-Schläger-Simultan-modus. Wer da jetzt das große Gähnen befürchtet, darf sich wieder abregen, denn all Mankos des Vorgängers wurden behoben.

Die Zahl der Gegner bleibt hier stets überschaubar, ohne jedoch den Spieler zu unterfordern, die Steuerung ist ebenfalls prima - es gibt drei Tritt bzw. Schlagvarianten, die sich sehr gezielt einsetzen lassen.

Zudem sind die Feinde teilweise schon sehenswert, neben den obligaten Punks machen nun auch ausrangierte Mumien und wandelnde Mutanten-Bäume Ärger. Ja, später muß sogar ein bißchen geknobelt werden, denn es wartet ein originelles "Wörterrätsel"...

Ebenfalls neu ist der Extrawaffenladen mit dem großen Angebot: Außer Nunchakus, Messern, Energieduschen und Spezialschlägen gibt es sogar ausgewachsene Kämpfer zu kaufen! Je nach Level darf man ein Leben lang die Rolle eines extragroßen Schlägers übernehmen, eines gewichtigen Sumos oder eines schlagfertigen karatekas.

Ein zu heftiger Anfall von Einkaufswut läßt das mickrige Startkapital aber schnell dahinschmelzen, dann fehlt womöglich die Kohle für ein dringend benötigtes Extraleben! Alles bestens also, weniger toll hingegen, daß sich jetzt Fäßer, Kisten und ähnliches Gerümpel nicht mehr als Wurfgeschosse mißbrauchen lassen.

Macht aber fast nix, denn technisch ist das Game vom Feinsten: Die Sprites sind groß und schön animiert, die Hintergrundgrafiken abwechslungsreich, und ein minimales Ruckeln beim Scrolling ist lediglich im Zwei-Spieler-Modus zu entdecken - und auch da nur selten. Dazu gibt's hörenswerte Musikstücke und knackige FX. Wer also gern zuschlägt, darf bedenklos bei Double Dragon III zuschlagen! (rl)

Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone logo

What's gone wrong at Storm? St Dragon, SWIV, Rodland... then Final Blow and this.

Double Dragon III is essentially the same game as the first two Double Dragon games, with the major difference being the addition of power-up shops. Gee, the boys at Tradewest (producers of the coin-op which this is converted from) must have been up all night thinking of that one. Even then, you do not get anything extra, because all you can buy in the power-up shop is weapons (which you could nick from the bad guys in the earlier games) or 'tricks', which are nothing other than the more impressive moves you used to get for free anyway.

What's worse, if you whack a baddie who's carrying a weapon he doesn't drop it for you to pick up, and if you're carrying a weapon and drop it, the baddies don't pick it up and use it against you either.

What's more, the interactive backgrounds of the earlier games have gone for a burton too. Yes, that's right, this game is even less sophisticated than Double Dragon I and II (Eep! What a concept!), and a lot less fun. Simple repetition of a single move takes care of most of the baddies for the first three levels at least, and presentation (usually Storm's strong point) is dire, with 'Loading... Please Wait' and the unlikely 'Thinking... Please Wait' making depressingly regular appearances at the slightest provocation.

Final Fight has pretty much tied up this genre on the Amiga, and Double Dragon III gives it about as much of a challenge as Frank Bruno's last opponent did. Total rubbish.

Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone logo

Creating a sequel to a successful game is a double-edged sword. Follow-ups are often criticised either for their similarity to the original or for being radically different. And any attempts at correcting faults from the first game often leads to a whole batch of complaints about these 'improved' features.

As a whole, the Double Dragon series escapes these problems - it's a pretty formulaic product, with very little difference from the first two. However, whilst Double Dragon II was merely the first game with a few more backdrops, the third game has made a few new advances - sadly, at the expense of a couple of the games' nicer ideas.

Up until this third instalment, the series has revolved around the rescuing of the fighting twins' respective girlfriends. Now, however, they are set to fight their way across the globe in search of more capitalistic fare: cash! On meeting a shrivelled little Yoda lookalike, Billy and Jimmy (those soft-named fighting machines) have been recruited for the recovery of the Rosetta Stones.

According to the little munchkin, these stones hold the key to untold riches which he will generously share on the boys' return. Thus, as the boys make their way through the familiar scrolling territory, punching, kicking, and using an assortment of newer moves, they must keep an eye out for these valuable gems. However, despite the scenario, the player never gets to see their ill-gotten gains.

Apart from the inclusion of a few tree demons and a handful of puzzles, this is familiar Double Dragon territory. Although the brothers' adventures take them all over Japan, through America, and eventually on to Egypt, it is only during the later stages that the action starts hotting up.

The inclusion of several new moves - including a rather nice flying kick where the lads link up for a double bout of devastation - ensures that the game will keep fightin' fans happy, but, conversely, the bought weaponry does not seem particularly effective. Double Dragon III is a rollercoaster of a game, with slightly more ups than it has downs. On the downside, the repetition of the coin-op is ever-present, but plus points include a twist in the tale, a nice reaction-testing sequence at the end of the game and a tougher challenge than that of the first two in the series.

I cannot say that DDIII is an essential buy, but it is a well-produced conversion which has not quite got what it takes to shine above the rest.

PRESENTATION In this respect, DDIII is streets ahead of its predecessors, with the cartoony characters of the former games replaced with more detailed sprites and a larger variety of backdrops. Nevertheless, whilst the graphical style of the game is recognisable - even down to the two girly-looking heroes - the gameplay is more akin to Taito's Renegade than past DD games. One of the best features of the original was that objects, such as rocks and crates, could be picked up and hurled at the oncoming fighters and guardians. In DDIII, though, a shop system has replaced this with the player collecting money for beating up the assorted thugs and exchanging it for swords, extra lives and even a trio of oriental, street-fighting helpers. Unfortunately, entertaining this emporium of everyday fighting objects takes a lot of the spontaneity out of the action, and interrupts the flow of each level.

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