Double Target

Also Known As: Quartet (US/World version), Double Target: Cynthia no Nemuri (Full JP title)
Platform: Master System
Other Platforms: Playstation 2
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1987
Genre: Platformer - Scrolling
Players: 1-2 (Co-op)

Double Target (or Quartet, your call) is a decent-enough stab at a run-and-gun, a genre that was in its infancy at the time, but most of its unique ideas actually get in the way a bit, leaving a game that's a bit half-baked. As either Mary (P1) or Edger (P2), you must use your spiritual power (the manual's words, not mine) to save space colony Number Nine, defeat the evil aliens that have infested it, and retrieve the casket of Princess Cynthia (eh?!) from the depths of the colony. This involves shooting a lot of aliens, or as the manuual repeatedly calls them, ALIENS.

As it's loosely based on the arcade Quartet, a few ideas from there- the core concept of finding a key held by a boss to exit each stage, constantly-decreasing energy, that Jetpack you can grab to fly around with- reppear in this renamed version, but these elements sadly don't gel too well with the other ideas it adds- two separate rooms per stage, and craftily-hidden items and Star Powers required to beat the game. It's mostly the respawning enemies tied in with the fact that you have to explore most of the rooms in the game twice that aggravates- they'll reappear too quickly after you kill them (almost instantly if you get hit by them) which makes progress a bit stop-and-start, and quite frustrating at times. It doesn't help that some of them are real pains to actually kill, they respawn quickly anyway, and because you can traverse through rooms from both directions, there seems like little thought put into their placement. Throw in the energy meter which is a bit too generous, and it feels less like it's designed for careful play, and more that you should just barge your way through to avoid as many respawns as possible, taking the hits as you go, which isn't the best approach. It also forgot to bring some of the interesting power-up items from the arcade game.

That's not to say it's completely without merit, mind you. Like a lot of Master System titles, the game is colourful and vibrant (I was always a sucker for the Master System's colour palette), the music takes its cue from the arcade Quartet which is a good thing indeed, and most of the game is done competently enough. When enemies aren't respawning constantly, it does feel fairly satisfying, and the platforming feels nice and weighty, with special attention given to controlling your jumps. Parts like the orb rooms, where you have to blast through walls and create platforms to progress, are pretty nifty for its time, and when there's less enemies in your way, it almost flows nicely. It also fares well in co-op mode, with a few interesting quirks like standing on top of your partner's head that you don't get in other games like this. These elements show the game is at least average, but it's the other parts, especially the enemies, that let it down.

Had the game been tweaked a bit more to focus on its positive aspects- more platforming, perhaps, less of a focus on enemies and more manouvring past obstacles to find the secret items to progress- then it could've been worth 4 stars. As it is, however, it's nothing that special, with the respawning enemies being a bit of an annoyance to sour it. Probably worth a bash if you enjoyed the arcade game and can find a friend to play it with (that said, unlike the arcade game this is just as enjoyable in single-player) and it's not like it's unplayable, it's just, you know, average. OK. It'll do, like.

For not attacking quite as aggressively as I'd like, Double Target is awarded...

In a sentence, Double Target...
Tries its best, bless it.

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