Double Dragon

Sega Genesis
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Double Dragon for Genesis delivers nostalgic beat-'em-up action with authentic arcade vibes, offering a short but satisfying gaming experience

When enthusiasts reminisce about iconic beat-’em-ups, titles like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and TMNT: Hyperstone Heist frequently dominate the conversation. Yet, the genesis of this genre, Double Dragon, is seldom accorded the recognition it rightfully deserves, particularly the Genesis rendition, which tends to be overshadowed by the less well-received Double Dragon V fighting game.

However, little-known to many, the original Double Dragon did indeed make its way onto the Genesis console, albeit in a somewhat elusive and challenging-to-acquire form. Despite its relative obscurity, this game stands as a charming respite from the mundanities of everyday life. Even though, truth be told, the game can be completed in a mere fifteen minutes.

A Tale of Resilience and Redemption

The narrative unfolds in a familiar vein to those acquainted with the arcade classic. Your beloved is ambushed in a dimly lit alley, and in the blink of an eye, she is abducted. In a fit of determination, you emerge from a nearby garage, piecing together the puzzle with remarkable alacrity.

Without missing a beat, you discern that: A) She has been seized, B) Her whereabouts are known, and C) The malefactor’s identity. Billy, the player one character, embarks on a four-level odyssey to reclaim his cherished.

Double Dragon (genesis gallery 04)

Oh, but let’s not reveal all the cards just yet. The game is far from being a mere graphical upgrade of its NES predecessor; it is an unadulterated port of the original arcade masterpiece. One of the most conspicuous disparities between the two iterations is the conspicuous absence of the Chinese kung-fu characters. Additionally, this version seems to have been calibrated for a slightly less demanding experience.

And for the record, in the standard two-player mode, Jimmy does not transmute into the malevolent despot of the shadowy gang, contrary to what the game box erroneously asserts.

Visual Panache and Auditory Appeal

The game capably emulates the visuals of the arcade edition. The backgrounds are tastefully rendered, complementing the frenetic combat sequences. The character sprites strike an optimal balance in terms of size, yet early on, determining the precise positioning for executing a punch can prove vexing.
The music, firmly rooted in the retro aesthetic, is a fitting tribute to the original game.

On the auditory front, the effects can be perceived as somewhat pedestrian, deviating somewhat from the visceral nature of actual fisticuffs. Gunshots ring out with a degree of authenticity, yet this seems to be the solitary exception.

You may find yourself unconsciously supplementing the provided sound palette with your own embellishments, particularly if you harbor a penchant for the resounding thwacks and crunches of yore.

Embark on a nostalgic journey with Double Dragon, a foundational beat-’em-up game that often resides in the shadows of its more celebrated peers. Let’s delve into this classic gem.

Navigating Gameplay and Combat Mechanics

Mastering the array of moves, from standard punches and kicks to specialized combinations, is imperative. However, there are moments of befuddlement, especially when the game capriciously swaps the assigned buttons for fighting and jumping. In addition to the fundamental actions of jumping, kicking, and punching, a special back elbow and back kick can be executed with the correct inputs.

Furthermore, executing jump kicks can be somewhat idiosyncratic. A leftward jump kick necessitates the simultaneous depression of the jump and kick buttons, whereas a rightward jump kick mandates the concurrent activation of jump and punch.

Double Dragon (genesis gallery 01)

The idiosyncrasy of this arrangement remains a mystery. Additionally, a “five knees to the face” maneuver and a throw are at your disposal. Exercise caution not only with regard to the adversaries, but also the perilous chasms that have claimed many a hapless player (the bridge sequence is sure to leave an impression!).

The antagonists exhibit a degree of uniformity. The Latin drug trafficker, the red-headed enforcer (the “W” is silent), the blonde henchman, the bridge sentry, and the whip-wielding femme fatale all employ comparable tactics and require an equivalent number of strikes for subjugation. Each of them is adept at wielding any available weapon, with the exception of the female character, who exclusively wields the whip.

Then there are the distinctive suit-clad enforcers. Two green adversaries serve as mini-bosses on the bridge. A teal opponent awaits in the second level, while the climactic confrontation features a duel against the formidable golden twins. And, of course, there’s ABOBO! Our beloved African-American powerhouse, whose imposing presence rivals the ultimate showdown itself.


Double Dragon, while relatively brief, offers an exhilarating journey through a classic beat-‘em-up world, making it a perfect retro escapade.

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Is Double Dragon available on modern platforms?

Yes, Double Dragon is accessible on various platforms including online emulators, making it compatible with modern devices.

Are there significant differences between the arcade and Genesis versions?

While the Genesis version closely mirrors the arcade original, some character elements and gameplay adjustments were made for this release.

What sets Double Dragon apart from other beat-‘em-ups of its time?

Double Dragon’s enduring appeal lies in its pioneering influence on the beat-‘em-up genre, setting a precedent for games that followed.

Can the game be completed in one playthrough?

Yes, with practice, players can complete Double Dragon in a relatively short span, making it an accessible yet thrilling gaming experience.

How does Double Dragon compare to other iconic beat-‘em-up titles of the era?

While Final Fight and Streets of Rage may enjoy greater recognition, Double Dragon’s historical significance and engaging gameplay make it a standout classic.