Much like its predecessor, the NES version of Technōs Japan’s classic beat ’em up Double Dragon II: The Revenge is a distinct affair from its arcade-based counterpart.
This was an era of gaming where arcade-perfect ports on home platforms weren’t really possible — so in a fair few cases, developers simply opted to make brand new games that were true to the spirit of the arcade original rather than simply attempting to ape the quarter-munching experience.
In many cases, this resulted in more substantial games that provided an experience with much more longevity for home play — and while it has a few design features that might make modern gamers wince, Double Dragon II: The Revenge for NES is one such example. And conveniently, you can enjoy it in several ways right now: as part of the Nintendo Switch Online NES app; as part of the Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch; and as part of the Technos Collection 1cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming platform.
Every gaming genre out there has that one title that helped to codify — if not establish — conventions that would continue to be followed for many years to come.
For the beat ’em up genre, that game was Technos’ Double Dragon, a title that is widely regarded to have kicked off something of a “golden age” for the genre with its innovative mechanics, simultaneous two-player action and large, chunky sprites. It also got an NES version developed by Technos themselves which doesn’t get talked about nearly as much. Which is a shame, because it’s an interesting game and most certainly isn’t just a straightforward attempt to ape the arcade machine on limited hardware.
Fortunately, we can now enjoy this intriguing take on a classic in a couple of readily available ways if you don’t have an NES to hand: via the Double Dragon and Kunio-Kun bundle released for modern consoles by Arc System Works, and as part of the Technos Collection 1cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming platform.
Ah, Streets of Rage 3. Probably the most notorious entry in the franchise due to how heavily it was altered between its original Japanese release as Bare Knuckle III and its Western incarnation.
Thankfully, modern compilations such as the Sega Mega Drive Classicscollection make it very easy to access the Japanese version — though it’s worth taking a look at the Western release too for an extreme example of what unnecessary localisation due to external pressure looks like.
For many players of a certain age, Blaze Fielding would have been one of the earliest high-profile female characters we got to spend some time with — one who made no secret of her gender, anyway!
She stood out — not only was she an attractive young woman, which obviously appealed to those who appreciate such things, but she was also highly capable of kicking vast amounts of booty on the streets without any need for support from smelly old men. Although, of course, if you had a friend who didn’t mind playing as a smelly old man, she would always welcome the backup.
With the long-awaited Streets of Rage 4 now out for everyone to enjoy — and my Limited Run copy still not here at the time of writing — let’s take a moment to celebrate one of the most ass-kicking ladies of 16-bit gaming.
The Streets of Rage series is an all-time great in gaming, and you could practically hear the collective sigh of relief from the entire community when the brand new fourth installment, released at the tail end of April 2020, turned out to be good.
How do the older installments hold up today, though? Having not played them for a few years, I figured “while I wait for my Limited Run copy of Streets of Rage 4 to arrive” would be the perfect time to revisit them all. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.
We begin, of course, with the first game in the series, which first hit the streets in 1991 with releases for the Mega Drive, Master System and Game Gear. We’ll be concentrating on the 16-bit Mega Drive release for today, since that’s still the most readily available version for modern audiences. Let’s dive in.
Rio’s back in the leading role today as we take on a series of new challenges, culminating in the recruitment of Plachta from Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book.
Today’s missions provide a good example of how Warriors All-Stars’ quick, snappy pace and structure give it a markedly different feel from Warriors Orochi. Rather than long, drawn-out battles all the time, you can enjoy plenty of smaller-scale challenges to acquire specific goodies for your team, then take on more substantial missions when you want to advance the plot or unlock new characters.
I’m really enjoying this game so far… and there’s a lot of game to explore here, so I think we’re going to be here a while!
Arnice takes a back seat this time around as Rio decides to lead the party into battle.
We do our best to fulfil some of Kasumi’s unreasonable demands before moving on to face Laegrinna, star of Deception IV: Blood Ties. She does not want to go down without a rather sneaky fight, but surely the invincible Girl Power team of Rio, Arnice, Christophorous, Kasumi and Honoka will prevail, non?
Warriors All-Stars is, so far, doing a very good job of paying homage to its incredibly diverse source material through a combination of its playable characters, stages, music and overall game design. We’re in this for the long haul, I think!
You know sometimes how you see someone and you know that you know them, but you just can’t remember their name? Yeah, that.
How could I forget dear old Honoka, though? She’s become quite a high-profile mascot for the Dead or Alive series in various crossover collaborations — besides Warriors All-Stars she also had a guest appearance in Senran Kagura — but her name just fell right on out of my head for some reason.
Oh well. At least I remember her name once she’s said it a few times… and once she’s joined Arnice’s brigade of brave warriors!
With Warriors Orochi finally down for the count, it’s time to start a new game!
Warriors All-Stars came out in 2017 and was originally intended as another Warriors Orochi game, but subsequently grew into its own standalone project that de-emphasised the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors characters in favour of… well, an all-star line-up drawn from a variety of different Koei Tecmo games.
And what a cast! We’ve got Sophie from Atelier Sophie; Arnice and Christophorus from Nights of Azure; Kasumi, Honoka and Marie Rose from Dead or Alive; and many more besides. With 15 possible endings ahead of us, we’ve got to start somewhere… so where better than with my favourite lesbian vampire (half-)demon, who seems a lot more cheerful than the last time we saw her?
The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today