8-Bit vs 16-bit – Double Dragon: Best Home Console Port

8-Bit vs 16-bit – Double Dragon: Best Home Console Port

Technos’ Double Dragon began parting money from pockets back in 1987 and pretty much started the side-scrolling beat ’em up craze of the 90’s, becoming one of the most popular 2 player arcade games of its time.

Ported to every major home and handheld console, it should be pretty hard to find any gamer that has never played, or even heard of this addictive side-scrolling brawler. D4G carefully play through Sega and Nintendo’s home cartridge versions, bringing you our countdown to the best Double Dragon port.

Double Dragon arcade game

Billy and Jimmy were known as Hammer and Spike in the US arcade version of the original Double Dragon

3) Double Dragon for the Sega Master System

Sega’s little colour box offered two very important things to Double Dragon fans. The first was that all-important two player mode and the second, was that iconic red sports car! The Master System also boasted a much richer colour palette, enabling its port to offer more recognisable stages from the arcade.

Double Dragon master system positive

The Master System version of Double Dragon offered some vibrant colours and boasted the best player animations. Check out the ‘SEGA’ box, too

Sega’s first attempt may have looked pretty good for an 8-bit port, but  overlapping sprite issues (touching or overlapping an enemy results in you being unable to hit them…but they can still hit you!) put a quick downer on that 2 player co-op. We still can’t believe (as cool as they look on the Master System) that your arms seem to reach further and therefore become more reliable than your legs!

The overlapping and attack/hit-box bugs made Sega’s original port so difficult, it had to offer the player unlimited continues until the final stage!

PROS

– 2 Player Mode
– That iconic red sports car that greets and sees you off on your quest for revenge
– Kick and punch attacks look realistic and are well animated
– The perfect gameplay speed with no timer (YAY!)

Double Dragon master system negatives

Sadly, multiple bugs made the game frustratingly difficult to play and because of this, the developer had no choice but to give the players unlimited credits until the final stage

CONS

– Sprite bug where hit boxes on enemies could completely vanish once you overlapped, or even touched an enemy
– Weapon hit boxes also seem to differ. One minute you’ll hit from a distance, the next, you can only hit within punching range
– What’s with the player walking like speedy Gonzales???

2) Double Dragon for the NES

We know what some of you may be thinking. Why has the NES version beaten the Master System, when it only offered 1 player mode? In short. The Ninty version is a more solid game. Yes, the console had enemy and graphical limitations but the overall experience was more responsive, well animated (especially with character reactions) and even offered a simple RPG system that unlocked more moves as you progressed through the game.

Double Dragon NES positives

Technos gave the NES a very solid single player port. A light RPG system and extended levels made Double Dragon a great game to have in your NES collection

PROS

– Good attacking animations with realistic contact
– Surprisingly good music for a NES port
– A much larger game with extended stages and exclusive levels

Double Dragon NES negatives

The NES version did suffer from heavy limitations. Only a single player mode was available and the system could only handle two enemies on-screen at once

CONS

– No iconic red car at the start of the game!
– No 2 player mode
– Due to the NES’ limitations, only two (of the same) enemies can be on-screen at one time (don’t be fooled by this. The NES still had the hardest difficulty level of all three ports!)

Double Dragon for the Sega Mega Drive

1) The Mega Drive version topping the list may have been no surprise, but it certainly wasn’t a flawless victory. Sega’s 16-bit system gave fans the graphics they had always wanted…but at a cost.

Due to cost-cutting with the cartridge (being much lower in capacity than the average Mega Drive cart), the port suffered music that was actually bettered by the NES! Yeah, really!

Double Dragon mega drive positives

The Mega Drive port of Double Dragon looks awesome and the arcade structure seems to have been ported over in its entirety

PROS

– The best port to enjoy 2 player mode
– Graphics are very similar to the arcade
– Faster gameplay gives the Mega Drive’s Double Dragon added difficulty for 2 players
– Unforgiving arcade difficulty has made it across (unresponsive flying kicks – always turning your back to the enemy after kicking – The perfect distance required for using weapons)
– Original animations made it over to the Mega Drive port

Double Dragon mega drive negatives

The faster gameplay can be a little frustrating in single player mode (enemies seem chained to you), but music and loss of arcade FX are the ports major flaws

Graphics – Mega Drive vs Arcade

Double Dragon md vs arcade

Mega Drive/Genesis port vs Arcade – The coin-op version may boast a higher resolution, but many scenes from Sega’s 16-bit box, look far more detailed

CONS

– The music is terrible and due to the cheaper Mega Drive cart being used, that awesome Enter The Dragon-like sound FX of the arcade version (attacking, taking damage and getting KO’d), never made it to the 16-bit port. Such a shame.

The best Double Dragon port

Well, unfortunately there isn’t a ‘perfect port’. The fact that there was no SNES version of the original, is beyond me (especially with the consoles better sound capabilities) but the Sega Mega Drive remains the best place for 2 player co-op. However, if you’re only interested in going ‘Single Dragon’, the NES version still offers an extended and solid experience.

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