Growing up, this was the ultimate fighting game there was. Until Final Fight. Plus IK+. Also Street Fighter 2. And Mortal Kombat, and so on. They had the Double Dragon arcade machine in our local takeaway – over the years they had Kung-Fu Master, Nemesis and a few others, but this, in particular, was ace.
Double Dragon is the epitome of 80s action movies – hairspray hair, tight coloured leathers and collars or wristbands to contain all that testosterone. And that was just me. Aha. Yep, Billy and Jimmy Lee (they’re twins) were exactly that. Thankfully not identical twins as you could tell who was who – one had blond hair with matching blue clothing, the other brown hair and in red. Phew – no one could ever tell those Lee boys apart, eh?
The story was a complicated one which I will try to convey as best I can. Billy’s girl Marian is kidnapped by a chap named Willy (tee hee!) and Billy (and his brother) beat up everyone on the way to rescue her. I hope that makes sense as it’s quite deep. Double Dragon is a side scroller, which you seldom see these days. Walk along, mostly heading to the right, punch and kick, pick up the odd weapon and fight a boss at the end. These were the games then and they were swell.
5 of my favourite side scroller games:
- The Simpsons
- Dragon Ninja
Why Double Dragon stands out is because you could hit the co-op player. There is no benefit whatsoever to hit them as you kind of need them and in no point in the story does the narrative change for the need to eliminate your ally. Instead, you would approach thug #23 and repeatedly punch or kick. Your pal, however, with the admirable intention to help you out, would swing a baseball bat and knock you both down. The correct way to address this would then to get up and ‘accidentally’ hit them back and then say “We’re even now”. But it would always end up with you killing one another.
I genuinely used to fall out with a cousin, and his mum, as I would grab him by accident (note, this was a real accident as easily done) and as I couldn’t then walk away, would either hit or throw him so we could continue. Problem was, he would often get thrown off the edge or a building or down a hole, thus killing him. Cries of doing it on purpose and ‘be fair to your cousin’ were recurring. I didn’t mean to do it, but it was funny.
Double Dragon was a success at the arcades and ported well over to home systems. My home version was the Amiga and I ended up getting the first three in the series – Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone was my favourite – the graphics were so realistic! There was a remake on the PS4 I think but despite looking pretty, it lost the charm for me.
The NES version is good. I do like getting a character in a hold and repeatedly hitting them while my golden locks flow in the breeze. Only Billy and Jimmy could pull off this Mötley Crüe. Hollywood attempted to make a film and succeeded (in making it at least). I don’t remember seeing this 90’s film so looked it up on YouTube and shocked at the cast.
If you remember any of these anecdotes, you might recognise a lot of these actors. If not I’m going to summarise. Robert Patrick (underrated actor) from T2: Judgement Day and the X-Files, Mark Dacascos (also underrated – mostly off straight to video movies) check out The Crying Freeman or Brotherhood of the Wolf, Scott Wolf – Party of Five which features my old flame Jennifer Love-Hewitt and more importantly Alyssa Milano – first film I saw her in was Commando but later became romantically involved. Don’t ask her though, she’ll deny it.
Apart from the pedestal made up at NES Online, Double Dragon is no more. Mortal Kombat still goes on strong but look at their movie – rubbish! Billy and Jimmy and their epic tale of rescuing Marian is forever prominent in gaming history. Go play it with a friend and test your friendship level.