Monday, 23 September 2013

Double Dragon Redux

Double Dragon Redux

ZX Spectrum remake

If you were around in 1989, chances are you would've been waiting on the home computer ports of the Technos classic arcade beet-em-up hit "Double Dragon". It arrived, all right, and it was rubbish. Everything about it was rubbish, sadly. Ocean/Image had released "Target : Renegade" the previous year, it's unofficial follow up to "Renegade", and that allowed 2 players to fight alongside each other simultaneously. It was a belter of a game whereas the ZX Spectrum port of "Double Dragon" was not.

Fast forward a few years and a homebrew remake was mooted by another ZX Spectrum graphic artist, Dean Swain (of Retro Ayslum). He produced the vast majority of the graphics and coding was started and AY music was created.....then nothing. After a while, it was dead. Then, 3 and a half years ago, a second attempt was made to remake it.

My new version of the logo
I can't remember how I got involved, but a team was assembled with a couple of coders, Dean Swain doing the background graphics and myself on sprite duties. We agreed on sprite sizes - relatively big but not as big as the arcade's - and I set to work.

I started on the hero, Billy Lee, first. A create quite a few iterations of him before I settled on the version you see below. The sprite isn't as stretched vertically as the original, but I felt a captured the essence of the arcade and put a little bit of my own into it.

Arcade Billy Lee sprite
My ZX Spectrum Billy Lee sprite
Billy Lee sprite animated
My ZX Spectrum Jimmy Lee sprite
I was so determined to capture that 80's vibe, in an early version of the sprite I had given them both mullets. In the end, it looks like I gave them more of a New Romantic hairstyle. Unfortunately, it was just after completing this sprite that I had to leave the project due to personal reasons.

Fast forward 2 years later. Dean had finished off most of the newer graphics again but was unable to finish them. I stepped in again. The original coders had left the project and legendary ZX Spectrum coder, Jim Bagley, joined. Jim has worked on classic Spectrum games, such as Ocean's "Midnight Resistance" and "Cabal". I went to work on the Abobo sprite. He was to be slightly larger than the standard Billy Lee one and I also had to try and pick up the design style I was using after a 2 year absence.

Arcade Abobo animated

My ZX Spectrum Abobo sprite

Abobo animated

Jim produced a demo showing a few of the sprites moving around the game world and things were looking promising. But, as with all homebrew games, real life often puts things on hold and that's what happened here. The ZX Spectrum "Double Dragon" remake sits in develpment hell, a state it's pretty much flirted with over the past few years. I'd still like to finish off the remaining graphics so if ever development does continue and I hope Jim does find the time (but he is busy), all the visual resources are there. I won't lose out, though. I'll have, what I think, are great graphics and they'll be sliding into my portfolio, that's for sure..

Watch this space. You've not heard the last of this remake.

Alternative version of my logo

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