Double Dragon Wiki
Double Dragon Wiki
This article is about the 1987 beat 'em up video game. For the franchise, see Double Dragon (series).
For the NES version, see Double Dragon (NES).
For other uses, see Double Dragon (disambiguation).

Double Dragon (ダブルドラゴン Daburu Doragon?) is a 1987 beat 'em up side scrolling fighting game developed by Technōs Japan and distributed in North America and Europe by Taito Corporation. The game is a spiritual and technological successor to Technōs and creator Yoshihisa Kishimoto's earlier beat 'em up, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (released outside of Japan by Taito as Renegade), but introduced several additions such as two-player cooperative gameplay and the ability to arm oneself with an enemy's weapon after disarming them. Double Dragon is considered to be one of the first successful examples of the genre, resulting in the creation of two arcade sequels and several spinoffs, as well as inspiring other companies in creating their own beat 'em ups.

Home versions of the game were released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Game Boy, Genesis/Mega Drive, and Atari Lynx, among other platforms during the series' height of popularity. A remake titled Double Dragon Advance was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. The NES version was re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console in North America on April 28, 2008 at the cost of 500 Wii Points. Nintendo also released the Game Boy version on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in 2011.

Another remake was released for the iOS mobile devices in 2011, which features brand new gameplay, sprites and animations, and music. A new Double Dragon entry, Double Dragon Neon, was released in 2012 for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and in 2014 for Steam, and is considered a reboot of the series.

Double Dragon was followed by Double Dragon II: The Revenge in 1988 and Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone in 1990.

Arcade version[]

The player takes control of martial artist Billy Lee, or his twin brother Jimmy (also known as "Hammer" and "Spike", respectively, in the supplementary materials for the American arcade release), as they fight their way into the turf of the Black Warriors gang in order to rescue their common love interest Marian. The player's character has a repertoire of martial art techniques which they can perform by using the joystick and three action buttons (kick, jump, and punch) individually or in combination. Techniques ranges from basic punches and kicks, to more elaborate techniques like hair grabbing moves or elbow punches. When playing with another player, one can assist the other by grabbing their partner's opponent from behind. The player begins the game with a certain number of extra lives and a life gauge which depletes as the player takes hits from enemies. If the life gauge runs out or the time limit reaches zero, the player will lose a life.

There is a small variety of enemy characters that the player will face thorough the course of the game. Certain enemies will carry a melee weapon which the player can use by disarming the enemy carrying it and then retrieving the item from the floor. The available weapons include steel bats, whips, throwing knives, and dynamite sticks, as well as large objects such as cardboard boxes, oil drums, and rocks, which the player can lift and throw at enemies or kick it towards incoming ones.

The game is divided into four different stages or "missions", which consist of a city slum, a factory, the woods, and the hideout of the boss. The game normally ends if a single player defeats the final boss alone. However, if two players manage to complete the game together then the two will be forced to fight each other in order to determine who will win Marian's affections.

The characters were initially unnamed when the game was released[1] and only a couple characters were given names in the Famitsū issue after the game's release. As a result, many characters had unclear names until later home releases named them.

Arcade credits[]

  • Directors: Yoshihisa Kishimoto (Yoshi Kishi) and Shinichi Saitō
  • Producer: Yoshihisa Kishimoto (Yoshi Kishi)
  • Designers: Koji Kai and Shinichi Saitō
  • Programmers: Hideshi Kaneda, Tomoyasu Koga, Naritaka Nishimura (Nari Nishimura), and Hiroshi Satoh
  • Animator: Koji Ogata
  • Music: Kazunaka Yamane (Kazu Yamane)
  • Sound Effects: Kenichi Mori
  • Art Staff: Kumiko Mukai, Misae Nakaya, Masao Shiroto, Akemi Tasaki, and Mizuho Yama
  • Special Thanks: Mutsumi Matsu (Mutumi Matu) Michiko Ohata, Sawako Notomi, and Mayumi Hirai
  • Presented by: Technōs Japan Corp.

Home versions[]

Nintendo Entertainment System[]

Main article: Double Dragon (NES)

Double Dragon was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System by Technōs Japan in 1988. The game was published in North America by Tradewest (who was given the license to produce other home versions of the game as well) and by Nintendo in Europe. The NES version of Double Dragon was released for the Wii's Virtual Console service in Europe on April 25, 2008 and in North America on April 28, 2008.

This version features major changes from the arcade original, including the removal of two players simultaneous play for an alternating mode, removal of Jimmy Lee as a playable character and instead making him the final boss, Chintai replacing Jeff, major changes of the level layouts and the inclusion of new sections that focus more on platforming (some of which are only 2D), weapons and throwable objects only present when the enemies that carry them are onscreen, only two enemies onscreen (due to hardware limitations), the inclusion of a one-on-one fighting VS Mode, as well as many other changes.

Master System[]

Shortly after the release of the NES version, Sega acquired the rights to develop its own port of the game for the Mark III in Japan and the Sega Master System in North America and Europe. The game supports the optional FM Sound Unit sold separately for the Japanese Mark III, which is already integrated into the Master System models.

Due to the Master System's technical superiority, this version featured graphics slightly improved over the NES version, with brighter colors and the fact that the game could display up to three different enemies on-screen. The game retains the two-player co-op mode and has level designs that were closer to the arcade game than the NES version's were. This version features the character of Jeff, the second stage boss from the arcade version (who was replaced by Chintai in the NES version). However, the mohawk version of Abobo is missing in this version as well, being replaced by black and green palette swaps of the bald Abobo as stage bosses.

Like many early Sega games (such as Shinobi), the Master System version allows for unlimited continues until the final stage. However, if a player performs a certain number of backward jump kicks at the start of the final stage, they would retain their unlimited continues.

Game Boy[]

Main article: Double Dragon (NES)

In 1990, Technōs Japan produced a Game Boy port of Double Dragon, which was also released in North America and Europe by Tradewest. This version features gameplay similar to the NES version, but all the of main character's moves are available from the start, without the need of having to accumulate points to unlock them. The roster of enemies is also the same as the NES version, but some of the characters were given new techniques (such as Abobo and Chintai). The levels are also the same as the NES version, although some of their layouts were redesigned to more properly accommodate the Game Boy's hardware, with some levels even featuring a few extra rooms.

Other platforms[]

Versions of Double Dragon have been produced for various other platforms as well. In 1988, Activision released versions of Double Dragon for the Atari 2600 and Atari 7800. During the same year, ports of Double Dragon were released by Melbourne House for the following computer platforms: Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, and IBM PC, all ported by Binary Designs. Two different Amstrad CPC versions were produced: one was released for the CPC6128 (128kB RAM) based on the Amiga version, while the other was released for the CPC464 (tape and 64kB RAM) and was ported from the Sinclair version. In 1991, a second Commodore 64 version was released by Ocean Software unrelated to the earlier Melbourne House port.

In 1992, Accolade released a Genesis port of the game in North America and Europe under the Ballistic Software label. This version was released as an unlicensed third-party cartridge. An Atari Lynx version was released in 1993, developed by Knight Technologies and published by Telegames. Notable differences are that there are only two Abobo palettes (dark-skinned and Mibobo), there is a mohawked Abobo (Jick), and Jeff's face is different from the arcade version, he appears simply as a palette swap of the Lee brothers, looking identical in terms of face and outfit but having a variety of different palettes.

In 2003, a remake of the original arcade game titled Double Dragon Advance was released for the Game Boy Advance. The game features all of the stages and almost all of the characters from both Double Dragon and Double Dragon II, but with new stages, fighting techniques, and cutscenes added to the mix (most of them based on the later installments). It was developed by Million Corp. and published by Atlus.

In 2006, a mobile phone game based on Double Dragon Advance was released titled Double Dragon EX. It was developed by Korean-based Eolith.

Double Dragon (Xbox 360) - 01

The Xbox 360 version comes with an option to use high definition graphics.

An Xbox Live Arcade version of Double Dragon for the Xbox 360 was released on May 9, 2007. This version features an emulation of the original arcade game, as well as an optional game mode featuring redrawn high definition graphics and a remixed soundtrack. It also features support for online multiplayer. It was delisted on July 1, 2009 due to the closure of its publisher, Empire Interactive.

In 2009, a version of Double Dragon was released as a launch title for the Zeebo game console in Brazil. Developed by Brizo Interactive under license from Million, the Zeebo version is not a direct port of the original arcade game or any previous version, but a new game made for the system.

In 2011, another Double Dragon remake/expansion was released for iOS and Android mobile devices, also developed by Brizo Interactive and sharing a similar visual style to the Zeebo version. The game features brand new characters and designs, an expanded storyline told through in-game cutscenes, new sprites, animations, levels, gameplay mechanics, and music.

In 2012, a parody/reboot of the series titled Double Dragon Neon was released for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and in 2014 for Steam. This new version features a more lighthearted storyline, vibrant (neon) colors, an '80s-like retro design, as well as a new antagonist and enemies. Different and sometimes simplified gameplay mechanics have been implemented to the game, and new abilities are obtained and powered-up by the acquisition of special items dropped by enemies and purchased from shopkeepers.

A compilation package titled Double Dragon Trilogy, developed and published by DotEmu, was released for Android and iPhone/iPad mobile devices in 2013, the Ouya in 2014, and the PC (GoG and Steam) in 2015. It includes the arcade versions of the first three games: Double Dragon, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, and Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone.


Mission Name Boss Music
1 City Slums Jick "City Slums - The Black Warriors Arrive"
2 Factory/Industrial Area Jeff "Factory - Big Brawl"
3 The Woods Mibobo "The Woods"
4 The Hideout Willy "The Hideout - Willy the Nemesis", "Opening - Double Dragon Theme"


Double Dragon received positive coverage from the gaming press.

UK magazine Computer and Video Games referred to the arcade in their 69th issue on July 1987 as great fun once players learn the controls. In its conclusion, it said, "Double Dragon could be a lot faster, all the ingredients are there for a really addictive, martial arts style kick 'em to bits."[2] Camille Compasio from Cash Box gave an hands-on view of the game, captivated by the action, graphics, and sound. In the same article, Taito America reported that Double Dragon had brought consistently high earnings after eight weeks on test.[3] CRASH called the title the best game of its kind in their October issue, praising the addictive action and interactive envorment.[4]

Issue #47 of Commodore User Magazine scored the arcade version of Double Dragon with a 9 out of 10, praising the game's graphics, enemy types, and variety of action set pieces. It concludes, "Double Dragon isn't quite as cheeky as Renegade but its sheer action-packed playability makes it a strong contender for hottest beat 'em up yet."[5] The arcade sold roughly over 10,000 units in the United States, with over 80% the country's video game operators buying at least one machine.[6] Combined with cabinets sold and annual coin drop earnings, the title ranked in $347 million dollars by 1989.[7][8][9][10]

Double Dragon was well received on the Sega Master System. The Game Machine's (UK) fourteenth issue rewarded the title with an 81% rating on January 1989. They wrote, "The problem of flickering sprites on the Sega has previously been a relatively minor one, Double Dragon changes that with its colossal amount of flicker. When characters move in front of one another things get very confused. Fortunately gameplay is simply terrific – playability makes Double Dragon one of the best Sega games yet."[11] In their one-off special publication of The Complete Guide To Sega, Computer and Video Games (UK) gave a quick insight to the game with an overall score of 85%. It reads, "With great graphics and sound. Double Dragon is an excellent mini-replica of the classic arcade game, featuring all the original's thrills and spills. There's even a two-player link-up option for simultaneous vigilante antics!"[12] The title was also covered in EMAP first of their four part series on the Complete Guide to Consoles with an overall 82%. They summarized, "Featuring great graphics and gameplay, Double Dragon will appeal to anyone who enjoys a bit of on¬ screen ultraviolence." [13]

Sega Pro (UK) reviewed the Genesis version of Double Dragon for their May 1992 issue, scoring it with 72%. They commended the game for being an accurate translation of the arcade, but called it very old and too easy for its short length and many continues. They concluded, "Entry-level gamers, fans of the coin-op, and people who just like finishing games may find some secret pleasure hidden deep within its history-laden walls. They'll have to dig deep though."[14] Mean Machines (UK) rated Double Dragon with 59%. In spite of the improvements in slow down reduction, they felt the sound effects weren't as good though as the arcade, and criticized the lack of difficulty level. They were also disappointed by the end-game sequence.[15] Mega Action's (US) first publication from June gave a summary to the game in their beat 'em up section of the "Mega Library", rewarding Double Dragon with 75%. They wrote, "Identical, that's what this is. An arcade conversion perfect in every way. One of the minus points is the fact that all the bugs remain. Whoops! If you're a bit partial to giving out a good hiding left, right and centre, you'll love this. No excuses, just dive straight in."[16]

The game was listed at #41 in Electronic Gaming Monthly magazines "200 Greatest Games of their time".

Computer Gaming World noted the limitations of a joystick caused the IBM and C64 ports to use fewer moves than the arcade, the C64 port in particular being "a pale shadow of the original."


Main article: Original Sound of Double Dragon

A soundtrack titled Original Sound of Double Dragon (オリジナル・サウンド・オブ・ダブルドラゴン Orijinaru Saundo obu Daburu Doragon?) was released in Japan by Apollon and composed by Kazunaka Yamaneon February 21, 1988. The soundtrack features arranged versions of the music from the original arcade version.


Main article: Double Dragon (video game)/Gallery


  • Double Dragon & Renegade marquees - 01

    Top: Marquee of the bootleg version of Double Dragon.
    Bottom: Renegade marquee.

    The marquee of the arcade cabinet of the bootleg version of Double Dragon bears a striking resemblance to the one from Renegade.
  • Double Dragon takes inspiration from action blockbusters such as Bruce Lee films, the Mad Max action film series, The Warriors,[17] and even the manga series Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken).[18]

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