One of the most endearing video game franchises out there is Technos' Double Dragon. The beat-'em-up series helped completely reshape the way gamers thought about brawlers, especially on home consoles where there was a dearth of side-scrolling brawlers back during the late 1980s. It seems like it's about as good as time as any to celebrate the series that debuted on the NES some 30 years ago. So here at CinemaBlend we have a list for every major console game release of Double Dragon ranked by awesomeness.
10. Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls
Tradewest's foray into transitioning the popularity of the Double Dragon morning cartoon into a video game wasn't quite what traditional Double Dragon fans were hoping for. Instead of being a classic side-scrolling beat-'em-up, Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls for the SNES was a one-on-one fighting game based on the characters as they were depicted in the Saturday morning cartoon series. The quality of the fighting wasn't so hot, and while the characters did resemble their counterparts from the television show, the animations were sub-par compared to other games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat that were also out at the time.
9. Double Dragon IV
Arc System Works attempted to revive Dragon Double with a sequel, retconning Super Double Dragon IV and Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls. This wasn't the wisest decision (although I doubt anyone would complain about Double Dragon V being retconned) because the 2017 outing of Double Dragon IV wasn't all that great. It's basically an 8-bit NES game made for today's generation of consoles. It's a rather simplified game that would have been popular back during the NES days, but just felt more dated than nostalgic when it was released for the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
8. Double Dragon (NES/Master System)
This was Technos' original side-scrolling beat-'em-up for the Western audience. This classic came out on the NES back in 1988, making it the quintessential beat-'em-up at the time. The game featured rough-and-tumble fighting action that most console gamers just weren't used to back in the day, and it came coupled with a versus mode for two players, and an alternating co-op mode where players took turns playing through each level. A second version on the Master System was made available that featured simultaneous co-op play, a feature that was missing in the NES version. The Master System version also improved the overall presentation of the game.
7. Double Dragon 2: The Revenge
The follow-up to the original NES version of Double Dragon was the 1989, 1990, and 1993 release of Double Dragon II: The Revenge. The various ports of the game varied per system, but the NES version was basically identical to the original Double Dragon, still only featuring two enemies on the screen at a time and no simultaneous co-op It was also included in the NES Classic Edition. And while this didn't help make the series anymore appealing on the NES, the other platform ports did support the two-player co-op mode, which greatly added to the experience. The cherry on top was the improved graphics and additional weapons, which really helped increase the game's fun-factors.
6. Double Dragon (Neo Geo)
In 1995 Technos released another fighting game for home consoles, this time it was simply called Double Dragon and it was for SNK's Neo Geo. However, it lacked the beat-'em-up elements of previous games but had far more improved combat compared to the Double Dragon V fighting game. The combos were better, the specials were better, the graphics were better, and the gameplay was actually fun. What's more is that the game was actually a movie tie-in to the live-action Double Dragon film that came out several months before during the fall of 1994. The movie was terrible, but the game could have been worse. There are even a few stills from the film featured throughout the gameplay.
5. Rage of the Dragons
SNK's Rage of the Dragons is kind of an unofficial sequel to the original Double Dragon on the Neo Geo, but it's close enough we're going to include it here. It features Billy, Jimmy and an alternate version of Abobo, but with slightly alternate last names or spellings of the names. Nearly everything is the same as the other Double Dragon games when it comes to the story and characterizations. However, rights issues prevented them from using 1:1 depictions as the Double Dragon brand went through a copyright whirlwind. Regardless of the rights issues, the fighting is actually really good in Rage of the Dragons, and the artwork from Evoga and Noise Factory is top notch. Unfortunately, this Neo Geo outing is oftentimes underrated and forgotten when talking about console outings for Double Dragon games.
4. Double Dragon Neon
This was a surprising entry in the Double Dragon series because no one ever expected a somewhat goofy spoof of the franchise to be anywhere near as good as it turned out to be. It was made by WayForward Technologies, the same minds behind Shantae series. While Double Dragon Neon has an irreverent take on the story, with a lot of comedic beats to the way the plot unfolds, the actual gameplay is really solid, hearkening back to the classic Double Dragon gameplay. The soundtrack is also one for the ages. While Double Dragon Neon isn't quite as great as the greatest Double Dragon, it's still a pretty awesome game.
3. Double Dragon 3
We're entering the top echelon of beat-'em-up games here. Now you might be wondering how Double Dragon 3 makes its way above Double Dragon Neon but it's simply because the game has some of the most iconic weapons, fighting systems, and gameplay pace in the history of beat-'em-up titles. It gets everything done right and does it all with a fresh coat of graphics. The NES version is as limited as you would expect, but the Sega Genesis version feels like the next evolutionary step in the Double Dragon franchise and gave it the kind of hard-hitting feel that the beat-'em-up series needed.
2. Battletoads & Double Dragon
It was obvious that the top of the list would include one of the most memorable beat-'em-up games of all time, one of the most iconic crossovers of all time, and one of the best SNES games of all time. Battletoads & Double Dragon was easily one of the most defining games of the 16-bit era, featuring a great sense of scale and scope while including some unforgettable moments, like the hover bike sequence. Having the Battletoads duke it out alongside the Double Dragon was a surreal moment in gaming, but that didn't stop the game from being hard as nails, but that was all part of the 16-bit charm. Anyone who enjoyed beat-'em-up games and had an SNES likely had Battletoads & Double Dragon.
1. Super Double Dragon
The most awesome Double Dragon game for the home consoles is without a doubt Super Double Dragon. It's sometimes referred to as Super Double Dragon IV or Double Dragon IV, before Arc System Works released the 8-bit Double Dragon IV. Either way, the game was a proper successor to Double Dragon 3 and was made specifically to take advantage of the SNES hardware. It's a remarkable brawler because it was one of the first games to feature the ability to catch and counter enemy attacks, as well as sport a wide range of awesome weapons to use. Super Double Dragon still has one of the best fighting systems in any beat-'em-up game to date, and it's a shame that it's as underrated as it is because you can still pick it up and play it to this very day and have a blast, which is what makes it so awesome!
Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.
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