Written: 6.15.15 Acquired: 3.24.06 Status: Cart only Price: $6.66
When the SNES hit the scene in the early 1990s, many of us were eager to play souped up 16-bit sequels of our favorite 8-bit NES games. Titles such as Castlevania, Contra, Zelda and Metroid immediately springs to mind. Personally, one of my all time top favorite franchises was DOUBLEf'nDRAGON. Killing goons, saving the girl and tag teaming with your bro was all part of the fun. My wish came true in October 1992 when the Lee brothers made their Super Nintendo debut at long last. All was perfect right? Ah, if only... Move aside -- let's talk about RETURN OF DOUBLE DRAGON
It's become a rather well known fact in the last 10 years or so: the Japanese version (entitled Return of Double Dragon: Sleeping Dragon Has Awoke) is far superior to the American port. Everything about the Super Famicom Japanese version is better, including this badass box art cover. There are several reasons why the Japanese version is better and I will get into that below. For now, just admire this brilliant piece of art. It's worth buying on its own but then when you throw in the fact that this version is better than the US version, it's a win-win
Some improvements over the US version include:
-You can actually catch the boomerang. In the US version it knocks ya down
-You can switch weapons. In the US version you are stuck with what you have
-Your Hurricane Kick can connect for multiple hits. In the US version it stops at one. Talk about pitiful!
-Less insane difficulty
-Option mode to adjust lives plus a sound test
-Expanded final stage
-Less knife/bomb damage BEST DAMN subtitle EVER: "SLEEPING DRAGON HAS AWOKE"
The plot mentions Marian yet sadly she is absent from the game. Man, I love how the story went right on the cover. Great artwork!
MEMORIES OF SUPER DOUBLE DRAGON FROM A BYGONE ERA
Growing up I was lucky to have a close knit group of family friends. About once each month we would hold these big epic sleepovers. I fondly recall waking up bright and early Sunday mornings and diving right into Super Double Dragon that fall of '92. My friends and I played the crap out of the game and we loved every last minute of it. The game holds an incredible amount of nostalgia for me and thus any time I see its visuals or hear its music, I am instantly transported back to Brian's room. It's a bright crisp Sunday morning, the sun is poking through the bedroom window, birds are chirping and we're whupping some serious ass together. Those were the good old days. The golden era of my youth. Where video games stood center stage and there was a real magic to it all. Part of me wishes I could go back, even for just 5 minutes, to relive the wonder of those days. Every once in a blue moon when I'm feeling super nostalgic, I bust this out on an early Sunday morning. It never fails to bring a smile to my face, but what amazes me most is how well it's held up 23 years later
WHOA HOLD ON A SECOND! LET'S REWIND A BIT FURTHER...
In the late '80s and early '90s my bro and I devoted untold hours to the NES DOUBLE DRAGON titles. The original is great in its own right but suffers from NOT having a 2-player co-op mode (and don't get me started on that crap 1-on-1 fighting game mode). Part II redeemed the missing 2-player co-op mode. Part III had its moments but it also felt like it had jumped the shark a little bit. I remember III came at a weird time where I felt the NES, as well as the Double Dragon franchise itself, started to feel really ancient. It was time to inject a little 16-bit life and vigor into the series!
Double Dragon II: The Revenge is one of my all time favorite NES games thanks mostly to the co-op 2-player mode. It perfectly captures what we felt was the ESSENCE of Double Dragon. Not since Contra did my bro and I have such a helluva time with a video game before. And as the Super NES came roaring onto the scene, I figured it was only a matter of time before we would get Super Double Dragon. We ate it up as little kids but I could never shake the feeling that something about it felt a little bit off. Years and years later I stumbled upon the Super Famicom version, and to my delight it was a much better representation of Super Double Dragon. Let's take a closer look and see why Return of Double Dragon is the definitive SNES version ^_^
THE STORY GOES...
NEO TOKYO 2064. Bright lights, fast cars and a teeming night life
At a quick outside glance, it seems quite peaceful. Serene, even
But hang around long enough -- something sinister lies beneath
"C'MON PUNK! Think ya can disrespect the Shadow Warriors?!"
"GOD DAMNIT, where's the Double Dragon when you need 'em?"
"We're coming... or rather... they're coming to us..."
But the Shadow Warriors have grown weary of ruling Neo Tokyo
Nothing reinvigorates a man quite like setting new challenges...
They decide to have one last night of fun... to leave a calling card
"NOOOO MAN! I JUST BOUGHT THIS CAR! OH! MY CAR!!"
"C'MON GUYS, THIS IS OUR LAST NIGHT -- LET'S BLOW IT UP!"
The Shadow Warriors must be stopped. Enter the Lee brothers
GOOD BYE, NEO TOKYO. HELLO, LAS VEGAS....
One of the interesting new changes to gameplay is the block and counter feature. Timed right, you can grab your opponent's arm and do with them as you please! Smack 'em in the face, their back or toss their ass, proving that you can teach an old dragon new tricks
Characters are on the smaller side but love the visuals and sound
Perhaps my favorite thing about this game though are the weapons. They are just so satisfying to use. There's nothing quite like chucking a knife at the enemy. I also love the sound effect of the knife dropping. The sound of that steel blade connecting with the ground was so convincing you coulda sworn it was real. Personally, I can't think of a beat 'em up with more fun and effective weapons than the ones found right here
It's all fun and games... until someone loses an eye...
I feel like certain weapons in some other beat 'em ups do ya more harm than good. To me that just ain't right. If you are using any weapon in this type of game then it should aid you, not make you even more vulnerable to damage. Well this game gets it right, as these weapons turn you into an unstoppable force. I especially love how you can deflect back weapons with a well-timed nunchuck swing!! Deflecting a weapon back at an enemy feels SO DAMN GOOD!
He's about to have one HELL of a headache
Hold any one of the shoulder buttons to charge your bar up there
Nothing like tossing one bad guy into another, dazing the other one and leaving him open for one serious uppercut. Even some 23 years later, this NEVER ever gets old...
Ah, the elevator trope. Few things make me feel like such a badass quite as beating the living crap out of punks and goons in the tiny confined space of an elevator. I *love* my old school 16-bit RPGs as much as the next guy but sometimes you just can't beat the sheer thrill of kicking bad guys senseless, all while riding an elevator. It sorta makes you feel like you're playing out some epic martial arts flick
Return of Double Dragon is full of BADASSERY
The wide variety of moves available in this game never ceases to amaze, or satisfy
It's true. It's tough matching this one for sheer martial arts thrills
As if all that wasn't enough, just look at how freakin' awesome this is
The way that punches and kicks connect and sound are nearly spot on perfect
I love how atmospheric the stages are. The airport is no different
THE movie event of my life last year. Can't wait for part 2 in 2018
Each stage has small segments that flow and progress naturally
Actually you can't... but that doesn't stop you from looking COOL
You can almost feel a nice breeze brushing up against your face!
MUCH better in the Japanese version than it is in the US version!
This reverse jumping kick attack was always a pleasure to hit. Catch them napping!
By the way, years after playing this game, along came a wrestler in the WWF known as Test. When I first saw him, all I could think about was that he was "Jackson come to life." His real name was Andrew Martin, so I started calling Jackson Andrew instead. Hell, he does look like an Andrew after all. Anyway, maybe this is just me [Oh it definitely is just you -Ed.] but even to this very day, I can't beat the crap out of Jackson without somehow thinking about Test. Sadly, like too many other wrestlers, Andrew passed away far too young. Rest In Peace, Andrew Martin
But I haven't mentioned that yet, have I? Nope don't think I did...
Timed right, you can actually deflect knives with your fist! Too awesome, and speaking of which, check out how you can use this punching bag to your advantage. You gotta love it
Andrew, er, I mean, JACKSON, has a legit uppercut. Too bad though he hit it too hard
Even the most jaded hater of this game has to admit this is cool
It crashes at 60 MPH and somehow you're still alive. CERTIFIED G
Reminds me of the slo-mo walk from CLOCKWORK ORANGE
I remember almost falling out of my chair when I first saw this. HE EFFIN' CAUGHT IT!
Timed right, you can deflect a knife not only with your fist or feet but nunchucks too
Timed and placed properly, you can trap bad guys in a rather compromising position
Gives them a little extra bit of personality
Now you get to fight McGuire to the death!
His Blanka-like rolling attack is by far his most dangerous move
That's just painful. And totally wrong. No wonder I love this game
The small wooden boxes add a nice bit of flavor and personality to this boss fight. This game always managed to strike a chord with my imagination. It's always the little things
Remind anyone else of the forest / mountain mission from Double Dragon on NES?
Still as fun today as it was back in 1992. Wish they had more pits
Just a crying shame that Abobo doesn't come smashin' out. Sigh
One of the most ICONIC and DEFINING moments in NES history!
The final level, Mission 7, takes ya to and through Duke's fortress
Damn straight it is! Epic set-pieces and cool bad guys to beat up
Sorry, just being dramatic. Duke is actually kind of a push over...
It's only missing a maze of mirrors...
Love how he bites the dust in slow motion. Satisfying every time!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
GameFan LOVED it as evident here. But not quite everyone did...
Super Double Dragon graced the cover of EGM but strangely was never reviewed. I am not sure why; this might mark the only game ever to grace EGM's cover without ever eventually being reviewed. GameFan loved it. They gave it ratings of 98 and 95% in their premier first issue (October 1992). It was the 3rd highest rated game out of 36 titles that they rated in their debut issue. Special thanks to scaryice from NA for that. Super Play on the other hand wasn't as impressed, scoring the game a paltry 68%. Over the years folks seem to be split on Super Double Dragon. You have one camp that dislikes it because of how slow it is. Then there's another camp that really loves the variety of moves it provides, along with excellent visuals and sound. Play it for yourself to see where you fall, but play the Japanese version
Big shout out to DOUBLE DRAGON DOJO for this beautiful scan
"HERE'S WHAT I THINK ABOUT ALL THE HATERS!" -BILLY LEE
Return of Double Dragon is one of my favorite beat them ups not just on the Super Nintendo but of all time. I harbor such warm fond memories waking up early on Sunday mornings playing it with my friends. Those amazingly detailed and intricate visuals totally captivated my imagination 23 years ago and they still do to this day. Sure I wish the characters were a tad bigger, but man does this game still look nice today. The music is just classic Double Dragon. As I have stated... the weapons you can use during the journey as well as the environment made this game extremely fun to play. After all, where else can ya send a boxing bag crashing into the face of a goon? Little creative, subtly sadistic moments sprinkled throughout help keep the game interesting. Many beat 'em ups suffer from repetition. This one stays fresh start to finish Too often underappreciated, this game packs one MIGHTY punch
But it does have its flaws. It's a bit on the slower side but I personally didn't mind that. It was rushed out the door and a lot of little features were cut out due to time. The core gameplay is intact but those lost tiny details would have added up. But rather than focus on the few bad points of the game, I'd much rather gloat about the many great things it does. The moves you can execute in this game would have made Michael Jackson green with envy. Having such a wide arsenal of tactics at your disposal makes playing this game a BLAST, and it makes you feel like a COMPLETE badass. Whether you are blocking jumping kicks, or you're countering an enemy's attack, or leaping off of pillars... this game makes you feel like you're Bruce mutha effing Lee! Plus I love how the missions take you from Las Vegas to Chinatown to the Golden Gate Bridge to the top of a truck to the proverbial final bad guy fortress. It feels like an '80s martial arts flick come to life. It's like Japan took all of the stereotypical "hot spots" in the US and crammed it into this game. There's a charm to it and 23 years later, I still love beating up those Shadow Warriors. Return of Double Dragon is not perfect... but I feel it's underappreciated. Here's hoping for a return of the Lee brothers one day. If not, at least I will always have this game
Graphics: 9 Sound: 9 Gameplay: 9 Longevity: 8
<3 the slow walk. Reservoir Dogs inspired by Clockwork Orange. Were the folks behind Return of Double Dragon inspired as well?
Until we meet again, Billy and Jimmy. UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN. It's a shame we never get to see the Lee brothers saving Marian! Hard to tell if she's gasping because of that or Double Dragon V