The two Double Dragon games on NES are markedly different from their arcade counterparts — and a great deal of fun in their own right.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge plays up the platform game elements quite considerably — and also introduces the simultaneous two-player mode that was absent from the original NES game. It’s a great brawler well worth spending some time with today.
Despite being the franchise that pretty much defined a whole genre, the Double Dragon series has had its share of troubles over the years.
One particularly troubled installment was 1992’s fourth game in the series, known as Super Double Dragon in the West, and Return of Double Dragon in its slightly enhanced Japanese release. This Super NES-exclusive title suffered from an all-too-common problem in the games industry that we still see to this day: the developers being forced to rush the game out before it was completely finished.
Even the enhanced Japanese release was missing some of the material that was originally supposed to be in the game, but for now it remains the definitive version of the game. Lucky that we now have easy access to this version thanks to the Technos Collection 1cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system, then, isn’t it?
It’s time to kick some ass with the excellent NES version of Double Dragon, which as you’ll know if you’ve read my piece on the subject, is deliberately different from the arcade version.
This version, found on the Technos Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade — number 10 in the collection, if you’re counting — is a solid brawler with some interesting mechanics, and remains fun to play today, even with its numerous rough edges.
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.