Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Head to Head: Double Dragon

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In many cases, games with the same name – and even the same game ported to various consoles – can be drastically different.  This was especially true in the 8-bit era where plenty of popular arcade games were deemed too limited for a boxed release on consoles like the NES. Head to Head takes two particular games and explains the drastic difference between the two that often keep fans of each camp drastically divided.  Aside from ports, you can also expect several other types of comparisons such as localization.

Double Dragon Arcade


In 1987 Technos released a spiritual successor to its popular brawler Renegade (Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun) known as Double Dragon.  It told the story of two brothers, Billy Lee and Jimmy Lee (Hammer and Spike in US arcades), who are fighting the mean streets of the Black Warriors turf to get back Billy’s girlfriend.  It released first to arcades and eventually saw a port over to the NES, which drastically changed the game.  Chances are if you are an American that played the game in your past, then you remember the NES version.  Now that arcade ports of many games we loved on the NES are releasing on services like Xbox Live and Playstation Network, it’s important to know the drastic differences between the two because they are different games.  Love ’em or hate ’em, here’s the Head to Head on Double Dragon.

Arcade Version 

NES Version 

Head to Head Conclusion Depending on what you’re looking for, you could be a fan of either version.  It was very cool to finally play an arcade game with someone and truly began the trend of playing with your friend instead of against them.  On the other hand, the NES version is purely for a single player, despite what the developers had in mind.  It takes time, memorization, and you will be tempted to throw your controller a couple of times, but once you get past all that it’s a super fun brawler from a time when this genre was young and rare.  Personally I’m going to side with the NES version, but I fully admit that nostalgia adds a heavy bias despite my playing both versions for a few hours just recently.

Written by Fred Rojas

July 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm

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