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Retro Fire

Written: 8.15.15
Acquired: 2.24.06
Status: Cart only
Price: $5

Pub: TradewestAug. '94
Dev: Leland Interactive24 MEGS

I grew up as a huge fan of Double Dragon. I loved the first 3 on the 8-bit NES (in particular, part two). I'm a huge fan of Super Double Dragon or rather Return of Double Dragon. So when part V was announced in the earlier part of 1994, I was psyched for a proper sequel (sorry Battletoads and Double Dragon does NOT count). Imagine my shock when I saw that it was a tournament fighter much like a Street Fighter II. Bit odd considering but OK, I'm still very intrigued
It's definitely disappointing... but I'll be damned. I do sorta like it!

                                      YOU CAN'T TEACH AN OLD DRAGON NEW TRICKS OR CAN YOU?

I first saw Double Dragon V in EGM issue #59, May '94. My first reaction: WTF a fighter? After getting over my initial disappointment, I actually thought it looked pretty cool. I thought EGM made it look like a rather promising game. The thing about it that grabbed me once I got over my initial shock that it wasn't a beat 'em up was the fact that it had such a cartoony look (which makes total sense since it was based off the cartoon that started airing the previous September). The next thing that caught my eye were all the strange fighters. I had a fetish for the Dhalsims and Blankas of the world. I always selected the weirdest fighters first whenever I play a fighting game for the first time. And this game was chock full of oddities, which appealed to my penchant of liking the spare parts of fighting game rosters. Also, as a huge World Heroes fan, Billy and Jimmy Lee were Hanzou and Fuuma 2.0... with the blue and red colors and very similar movesets, especially the Dragon Spin!

The preview made me a believer. EGM made it look like a gem...

                                       The Lee brothers ripped off Hanzou and Fuuma's Dragon Spins...

"Well, we were here long before you were... SO IN YOUR FACE!"

GameFan also gave it an ace preview. It opened up the Planet SNES section and GameFan usually reserved the top spot for the games they wanted to champion the most that month. So to see Double Dragon V get top billing and to see how awesome they made the game look, my expectations began to soar. Remember the good old days when all we had were magazines and a few pages' preview to dream about how a game would play and look in the flesh? GameFan was the king of selling games high thanks to their amazing colorful photos and sick layouts. In terms of style, no one did it better. When Double Dragon V finally came out August of 1994, the new Hollywood Video opened by my house. I ran over and I vividly recall seeing both Fighter's History and Double Dragon V sitting pretty next to each other. This remains embedded in my heart even 21 years on

Although I loved me some Fighter's History, my best friend Nelson had already rented the import version a few months prior (Summer of Imports) and so it was pretty much a no-brainer for me. I excitedly grabbed Double Dragon V from its resting place and rushed to the front of the line. A sign in the window said membership was free. The clerk, a young lady, asked for my membership. I told her I didn't have one yet and wanted to open one. She then said "Well, you'd need a driver's license and credit card." My hopes crushed, I sauntered away quietly feeling like such a noob. As the great wrestling commentator turned governor Jesse Ventura once said, "Close, but no cigar." I never got to rent it. So when I bought it in 2006 during my SNES resurrection, boy, was I psyched to finally play it and conquer a 12 year curiosity. And ya know, despite all the terrible things people say about it on the net, I'll be damned. I actually find it to be not so bad and halfway entertaining

Here's a shot of the actual Hollywood Video from my childhood town. Man, this picture brings back many memories. The mountains in the back. How TARGET was right across the street and just to the right of the Target sign was a classic mom and pop rental shop VIDEO MART. One time my mom was shopping at Target and I decided to sit on the little lawn right there by the Target sign, reading Goosebump book #26 "My Hairiest Adventure." Man... for some reason that sticks out in my mind. Good innocent times from a bygone era. It's really a shame kids these days only know of Redbox and NetFlix. I like those modern conveniences too, but damn if it'll ever match the pure joy and wonder of visiting the local rental store on a Saturday afternoon. If you were a kid growing up in the early-mid 1990s, it was a ritual and a way of life. It was how we experienced the bulk of our games since our parents didn't buy us more than 3 titles a year -- if that. There's something incredibly sacred about those old video stores and memories

I took this shot myself on a cold rainy Monday night roughly in 2006. This was one of my favorite stores to visit as a kid. I wasted hours going up and down the long aisles staring at the back of horror movie VHS boxes and the latest 16-bit games. It was a big part of my childhood, and it saddens me the kids of today will never know what it's like to roam through a video store. This location finally died off in 2009. It was one of the last relics remaining from my youth. Thanks for the memories!
Farewell dear old friend. Long live 16-bit and horror movie boxes

Double Dragon V was based off the cartoon that aired its pilot episode on September 12 of 1993. It only ran for 2 seasons and 26 episodes but season 2 opened on September 11, 1994, in time to coincide with the Double Dragon V game. I liked the cartoon even though I knew it was cornier than most other cartoons. It wasn't quite what I imagined a Double Dragon cartoon would be, but being such a huge fan I ate it up nevertheless. I haven't watched an episode since it quietly died in December 1994. I imagine if I did then I'd ruin whatever magic of it I held on from my childhood. I remember NetFlix had the show streaming in 2011 or so. I put it on my queue list but never could get myself to hit the play button. Leave the memories alone! I just figured it was one of those childhood guilty pleasures best left in the box



The manual is pretty cool -- it acts as sort of like a comic book...

                                       They made Billy such an annoying goody two shoes though, heh

The art is fascinatingly bad yet oddly intriguing at the same time

                                       The game even came packaged w/ a pretty cool character poster


Many people dislike this game, but I find it to be oddly enjoyable

                                       Choose from 10 characters... plus there is a boss code for 2 more

Use either Lee brother or any of these 8 Shadow Warrior freaks

                                         A secret code gives ya more bonus points to mess around with

I love how the location map highlights the stage set pieces. Nice

                                       Yes, this game has fatalities, AKA "Overkills." I'll list them below

To execute Overkills, you must finish off your opponent with a specific strike as they're standing. Note that the listed Overkill for each character is what you must do to them, not you do as them. Note: Overkills can only work on Medium or higher difficulty and can't be done in the Quest mode


I like Billy's stage for how incredibly morbid it is. 2 prisoners squirm in the background knowing that their fate is much like that of the skeleton displayed front and center. Love the music here. Super catchy

Billy has your typical fighting game "main hero moveset." This includes a fireball, a leaping uppercut slash of some sort, and a spinning attack that can connect multiple times. In addition he has a nice quick lunging strike to keep opponents on their toes

Jimmy does all of his training in the Dragon Dojo. Here Jimmy hones his craft day and night. A giant golden dragon statue looms in the background, reminding Jimmy Lee of the untapped power of the Dragon. The statue even breathes smoke and has glowing eyes. Nice touch

Jimmy basically shares the same moveset as his brother, Billy. Except his fireball isn't a dragon shaped projectile but rather a fiery ball of death and destruction. BBQ, anyone?

The Red Dragon Tea is one of Metro City's hot spots. After all, what can beat an endless variety of tea drinks and a backlot brawl on a Friday night? Not much, that's what

Projectile overkill?  Absolutely. But that's also the quirky charm of it all. It feels like it was made by a bunch of 10 year olds who couldn't agree on one fireball, so they included all 3 instead. Jawbreaker can also launch himself head first, à la E. Honda. A fun quirky fighter!

When the hipsters of Metro City aren't hangin' out at the Red Dragon Tea, they're most likely catching some greasy eats at Cody's Nutron Grill. Hard to complain with dinner and a show

Icepick is cool (sorry) if only for the fact that he is the only one who can put a real freeze on the opponent, SUB ZERO style. He's also got a regular projectile just for the hell of it, because it's, you know, Double Dragon V. Not one of my faves, but I love that ice breath

I like how this stage is set against the backdrop of a heavily polluted factory. It fits in well with the whole grimy feel of the game...

Look, another bizarre fighter with THREE different projectile. It's unique, especially for a fighting game from 1994. Like I said earlier, it feels like the game was made by a bunch of kids who came up with a bunch of "cool" fireball attacks, but couldn't agree on JUST one

The mysterious neon green bubbling liquid gives this stage a lovely glow. I get a serious flashback of some TMNT mutagen here

Sickle only has ONE projectile, believe it or not! But to make up for it, he has some super cool blade-esque attacks, including one that can safely spin right through fireball attacks!

This is a rather creepy sewer thanks to a couple of strange looking weirdos and rats scurrying around

Blade's M. Bison-like torpedo is sick. He also has a cringe-inducing move where he buries his blades deep in one's crotch, before tossing them the other way like yesterday's garbage

Trigger Happy may have the coolest name but he definitely has one of the worst looking stages in the game. It's a bit drab

However, they definitely made up for it with his incredibly cool moveset. Two different fireballs (one hits high while the other hits low, so it ACTUALLY serves a function), an electric AND flame-based attack... not to mention a sick take on the old Dragon Punch

This is one of my favorite stages from the game; it perfectly conveys the seediness of Metro City. Love the city backdrop and also how the 'E' in HOTEL flickers in and out

As awesome as Trigger Happy's special moves are, I'd give the slight edge to Countdown. After all, HE TURNS INTO A MOTHER F*CKIN' ROCKET. You just can't top that one, folks

A forgettable stage for a forgettable fighter. Not much else to say, really

With their blade strikes and torpedo spears, I feel like she and Blade are interchangeable

That Double Dragon yin yang symbol is awesome but that is about the only notable thing of this stage

Dominique has a very 'meh' moveset. She was created specifically for this game and feels like an afterthought. As if someone said, "Hey we should have a female boss character..."

The creepy dragon/snake statue in the background glows in and out, creating a pretty neat effect. I also like the murals; they give this stage a different look from all of the other stages

Shadow Master teleports, charges, and has an electrical and flame-based projectile. Oh and one seriously HIDEOUS bad guy get-up. Not a big fan of the long white hair, either

SECRET CODES  (all done at game selection screen)

  • Play As Bosses: L, R, Up, L, L, Down, R, R
  • Extra Continues: Left, Right, Left, Right, L, L, R, R, R
  • Six Extra Points: Right, Down, Down, Left, Up, Right, L, R, L, R, L, R


No, you can't wear the dragon mask like from the cartoon, but this comes pretty close



For all the hype Double Dragon V got in gaming magazines or at least, a combination of that plus my own internal hype, the game turned out to be a bit of a flop. The review EGM ran of it in issue #60 has always stuck with me. The screenshot reaffirmed to me what a weird roster it had, but then the scores were just so average. They gave it ratings of 6, 5, 5 and 5. GameFan never reviewed it despite giving it a 3-page preview to open up their SNES section. It likely meant GameFan thought poorly of the final product and were probably embarrassed that they gave it top billing to begin with. Perhaps by doing so they're hoping to wipe it from everyone's memory. Super Play gave the title an abysmal 39% ranking. Pretty much everyone you run across on the net will trash this game. It gets a bad rap, but you know what, I don't think it's nearly as bad as most people say it is. I mean, it's not great or anything but it's definitely playable. There's plenty worse to be had on the Super Nintendo
EGM's review is burned into my memory bank. I miss those days!

Classic moment of dyslexia. Sorry Double Dragon V. That's a 39%

                                       And no, those ain't the scores GameFan secretly gave the game...


Some games deservedly get a bad rap while others I feel aren't so bad, really. Double Dragon V fits the latter, for me at least. It's not as below average as Street Combat or Power Moves, and it's about on the same level as a Clay Fighter. It's nothing to be taken too seriously but it can be mildly amusing for 15-20 minutes or so. The graphics are colorful yet "dark" at the same time, lending Double Dragon V a unique style. It's not a particularly great looking game but in certain spots it's alright. The sound is pretty lackluster but the music's OK especially on a few select stages such as Billy Lee's. I do enjoy how the music for each stage kicks into a frenzy whenever one opponent's health starts reaching the danger zone. It helps add a little extra drama to the matches. This game is a guilty pleasure to the max
Some games you just have a bit of a soft spot for. This one's mine

A fighting game is only as good as its control, roster and mechanics, however. Double Dragon V has OK passable control. It's not tight and crisp like say a Street Fighter II... but it's not terribly difficult to pull off the special moves. My biggest gripe here are the physics. They feel a little bit off, very similar to Clay Fighter. The cast, oddball as they are, aren't notably appealing and there aren't many combos to speak of here. It's mainly a fireball spamming fest (of which the game gives one many fireball choices from which to choose) and trying to hit each other with your special moves. Yet, there is something about this game that compels me to play it every once in a blue moon. It fell short of my expectations, but I think the main reason why folks tend to hate Double Dragon V is because it's not a proper kick-ass BEAT 'EM UP sequel to Super Double Dragon. Sure, the fact that it's not a great or good fighting game plays a big role too of course but I think many people's disappointment that this wasn't an actual beat 'em up definitely didn't help fan perception. I really don't think this game is THAT bad. And while I wouldn't be quick to pull this game off my shelf, I cannot deny that I find it oddly enjoyable. Overall, a general disappointment, but not a completely worthless fighting game. After all, any game where you can turn into a rocket can't be a total loss

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 5.5
Longevity: 6

Overall: 6.0

Released 11.4.94, this was the final nail in Double Dragon's coffin

Don't get me started on the crap movie!  The only good thing about it was the brief cameo of Stevie B.'s WHEN I DREAM ABOUT YOU. One of the best romantic songs ever written and sang. The song totally transports me back to 1994. Smack dab right back to my childhood :)

                                       OK, this part was pretty cool, too, you have to admit. But that's it!