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Double Dragon [Model TA-0021]

Arcade Video game published 37 years ago by Technos Japan Corp.

Listed in MAME

Double Dragon [Model TA-0021] screenshot

Double Dragon © 1987 Technos Japan Corp.

Double Dragon is a side-scrolling beat-em-up for one or two players, featuring twin brothers and martial arts masters, "Billy & Jimmy Lee". The brothers must defeat the savage street gang known as the 'Black Warriors' to rescue Billy's kidnapped girlfriend, Marian. Standing between the brothers and Marian are four huge, colorful and varied levels; each populated with a wide variety of thugs.

Many of the game's enemies carry weapons (knives, baseball bats etc.) and should Billy or Jimmy manage to knock the weapons from the enemies' hands, the heroes can pick the weapons up and use them against the enemies.

The Black Warriors is made up of six distinct enemy characters- plus Willy, the game's final boss - with each differing in both physical appearance and fighting style. The members of the Black Warriors consist of the following fighters:
* Williams - A street punk in a tank top. In addition to the standard punches and jump kicks, his signature technique is a body blow to the stomach. He also wields weapons such as baseball bats, knives and dynamite sticks.
* Rowper - A punk who wears matching-colored pants and shirtless vest. He wields all the same weapons as Williams, but can also lift and throw heavy objects such as oildrums, boxes and stones.
* Linda - Female punk who usually carries a whip. She's not very strong, as she falls down to ground with a couple of punches or a single kick (because of this, she is the only regular-sized enemy who cannot be placed on a headlock).
* Abobo - A tall, big-muscled bald guy. His attacks includes punches, a standing kick and a body toss. He can also lift and throw heavy objects like Rowper. Due to his large size, he cannot be put into a headlock.
* Boss 1 - The first boss, a head-swap of Abobo with a Mr. T-style mohawk and beard. Fights just like Abobo, only with an added double-handed slap. Unlike Abobo, he does not use weapons. A green version of him appears as the Mission 3 boss.
* Boss 2 - The second boss. A head swap of the player who uses almost all the same techniques.
* Willy - The game's final boss, armed, somewhat unfairly, with a machine-gun.

Double Dragon was a huge success due to the many game-play innovations it brought to the genre (see TRIVIA for details), but it demonstrates its final moment of inspired genius at the very end of the game. Should both players still be alive after the final boss has been defeated, they will then have to fight each OTHER. The winner of this fight will be the one who wins Marian's affections.

Goodies for Double Dragon [Model TA-0021]
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Game ID : TA-0021

Main CPU : HD6309, Hitachi HD63701
Sound CPU : HD6309
Sound Chips : Yamaha YM2151, (2x) MSM5205

Players : 2
Control : 8-way joystick
Buttons : 3


Double Dragon was released in August 1987 in Japan.

Double Dragon may not have been the world's first side-scrolling beat-em-up to feature depth-movement (that accolade belongs to its predecessor, "Renegade", released in 1986) but it is the world's first CO-OPERATIVE fighting game and as such completely revolutionized its genre.

The varied, multi-colored sprites and hugely detailed backdrops - married to instinctive, one or two-player game-play - was something that had never really been seen in the fighting game before and Double Dragon quickly became a legend in its own right. The game would be the inspiration for an entire genre and classics such as Capcom's "Final Fight" owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Technos legend. The game was such a huge hit, that when the home versions finally came out, the rear side of the package advertised, 'You'll never have to stand in line to play Double Dragon again!'.

Double Dragon's hugely innovative game-play and superb graphics proved to be too ambitious for the host Technos hardware and the game was plagued with the now notorious 'slowdown', that occurred whenever a large number of fighters appeared on-screen.

The game's director, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, reportedly conceived his initial idea for Double Dragon around the date of July 20th in 1986, the 13th anniversary of Bruce Lee's death.

Director Yoshihisa Kishimoto got the idea of picking up an enemy's weapon from his previous game, "Renegade" ("Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun" in Japan). During the first stage of Renegade, he noticed that the armed enemy characters were not holding their weapons when they were on the ground.

On the first stage of the game, a billboard for "Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun" (the Japanese version of "Renegade") can be seen atop a building prior to the first boss battle.

The car at Billy and Jimmy's garage resembles the interceptor from the laserdisc game "Road Blaster", which was one of director Yoshihisa Kishimoto's previous games at Data East before he left the company to work for Technos.

The three kanji (Chinese characters) on the title screen, which is normally read as "Sou-Setsu-Ryuu", literally means "Twin Interception Dragon". This is an example of 'gikun', in which a kanji is used for their meaning and not their phonetic value.

The fictional martial arts practiced by the Lee brothers is called Sousetsuken or 'Twin Interception Fist', which is described as a combination of Shaolin Temple Kung Fu, Karate and Tai Chi Chuan. The name is derived from Bruce Lee's own martial arts style Jeet Kune Do, or Sekkendou in Japanese, which is known as the 'Way of the Intercepting Fist'.

The Lee brothers, along with the recurring enemy characters Williams and Rowper, were named after the three main heroes from the 1973 Bruce Lee film, 'Enter the Dragon'.

Double Dragon contained a number of bugs, most of which were never fixed despite several revisions of the ROM. The best known is a bug in the way enemies attack the player. Sportingly, enemies will not attack the player from behind, but will instead walk up to them and try to move past so they can attack from the front. Thus, by standing with your back to an enemy, it was possible to wait for them to get close and then elbow them in the face, without fear of being attacked. Another common bug was the 'infinite bouncing' bug. Due to the fixed way in which objects in the game would bounce off walls, trees etc., it was possible to drop an item between two tree stumps on the forest level, and it would bounce back and forth forever. In the first version of the game, this could happen to player characters who fell off either stump, the only way to continue the game being to allow the timer to run down. Another less serious bug was the ability to throw weapons from one level to the next. Usually, weapons were discarded at the end of a level. On some levels however, the transition to the next level was achieved simply by scrolling the screen one whole screen to the right, or down a cliff. By standing at the extreme right of the level and jumping just as it ended, the players character would drop their weapon in mid air, throwing it far enough to be picked up again once the screen had scrolled on.

Jason Wilson holds the official record for this game with 171,210 points on July 24, 1999.

Apollon Music released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Original Sound of Double Dragon - KHY-1026) in cassette format on 21/02/1988. Also released the soundtrack album in CD format (Original Sound of Double Dragon - BY12-5028) on 16/12/1988.
Scitron released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Legend of Game Music 2 ~Platinum Box~ - SCDC-00473~82) on 18/01/2006

A Double Dragon unit appears in the abysmal 1994 movie 'Double Dragon'.
A Double Dragon unit can be seen in Drake and Josh episode 'Movie Job', but the marquee reads 'Dragon'.

Tiger Electronics released a board-game based on this video game (same name) in 1989: The winner is the first player to successfully fight his or her way around the game board to Jimmy's Hideout to rescue Marian. You will pass through the slum section, the industrial section, the forest section and the hideout section on the rocky road to victory.

Comic Book: Six-issue limited series published by Marvel Comics in 1991. (cover dated from July to December). Written by Dwayne McDuffie for the first four issues and by Tom Brevoort and Mike Kanterovich for the final two. In this comic, Billy and Jimmy Lee were the twin inheritors of the 'Dragon Force', a mystical force that granted the Lee brothers their powers, as they fought against the occult crime lord Nightfall. Marian is reimagined as a policewoman (a depiction later featured in the cartoon series) and Stan Lee appears as Billy and Jimmy's long-lost father.

Cartoon: TV series produced by DIC Entertainment and Bohbot Entertainment, which lasted two 13-episodes seasons in 1993 and 1994. In the series, Billy and Jimmy are twin brothers who were separated at birth, with Billy being raised by his father's sensei, the Oldest Dragon, while Jimmy was raised by the evil Shadow Master to become his successor, the Shadow Boss. After the second episode, Jimmy realizes the evils of his way and joins his brother, becoming the Double Dragons. Inspired the 1994 home console fighting game "Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls".

Live-Action Movie: Released in 1994 by Imperial Entertainment. Starred Scott Wolf as Billy, Mark Dacascos as Jimmy, Alysa Milano as Marian and Robert Patrick as original villain Koga Shuko. Directed by James Yukich, with a screenplay written by Paul Dini (of Batman: The Animated Series) and Neal Shusterman. In the movie, Billy and Jimmy are young twin brothers who possess one half of a magical medallion, with the other half possessed by crime lord Shuko. It inspired the 1995 Neo-Geo game "Double Dragon".


* Here's How To Get Infinite Points In Double Dragon : Level One, one player grabs the whip when it comes out. The other player relieves the enemy who walks out with a bat of that bat. But he does NOT kill that enemy. Continue moving on until you're at the end of stage one. At this point the player WITHOUT the whip grabs the now bat-less enemy. The other player finishes the stage. Note that when the boss man is dead, the clock stops running down. Then the player tortures the bat-less one with the whip. 200 points per pop, and the enemy will NEVER die. Switch to non-whip attack to kill him, and resume normal play.

* To easily get through the whole game, use the following strategy. When an opponent is coming towards you from one direction, face the opposite direction. When the enemy is at arm's length, do an elbow smash. The enemy will go flying forward. While the opponent is still on the ground, face away from him/her and repeat the process. Now, you can defeat enemies without them attacking. This strategy also works for bosses.

* Ghost Player : Notice that player one gets all the points for certain weapons. Notably the barrel, which is important because it is reusable. Should player one die, while player two is still alive, player one continues to get points for the barrel. If this gets him over the extra-man mark, he gets a ghost player, which is limited in the kinds of things he can do.

* Infinite Knives : When an enemy carrying a knife appears on the screen (NOT an enemy that picks up a knife, but one already carrying the knife when he appears), instead of taking the knife beating the enemy, hit the weapon, causing the enemy to drop it (or let it hit a wall). Doing this you will be able to pick up and use the knife against some other enemies, while the character bearing the knife will take out a new one so you can repeat the trick. You can use this same trick with dynamite.

* At the end of some levels you can throw your weapons onto the next stage. Normally you discard them, but you can cheat. This works well on level 1, for instance. When at the end of the level, just after you kill the boss, move to the extreme right of the level, as far as it will scroll. Jump up just as the level ends and scrolls to the next one, if you time it right you will let go of your weapon in mid air and it will fall onto the next stage where you can just about pick it up at the very left of the screen!

* Throw Objects Through the Levels : At the end of the second stage, where the elevator appears, move as far down as possible without falling. Now, when you drop weapons, or hit some enemies, these will fall off-screen instead of falling to the ground. If fallen objects like whips or knifes fall into a certain area (near the platform), you will find them when descending into Mission 3.

* Throw Enemies Into the Void : At the beginning of Mission 3 you will face two enemies; make them come as near to the left of the screen as possible, and throw them off-screen; they will die immediately as if falling into the 'void'.

* At the last level after the walls you will see two guys. Kill the first one and let the second guy on wait. Now you have only one guy in front of the door waiting for you. Just pass him by and when he comes turn fast and give him a punch to turn his head. Now you crash his head. To go back to normal you have to have a second player to catch his back.

* At the very end of the last stage you will notice the machine-gun man looking down on you nodding his head. Normally he will walk down when you have killed a few more hench men. Well if you can entice the BIG guy that throws you over his head towards the wall. Elbow him so he is on the ground facing the wall, at this point stand at his feet and he will throw you on the wall next to the machine gun man. You can then beat the crap out of the machine gun man with his gun on the wall still.

* How to kill the final boss (Willy) in just one hit (also useful to quickly kill the other enemies in the final part of the last level) : This trick requires a lot of dexterity and skill (and a bit of luck too, as it won't work if the enemies won't lean out enough) to be achieved. In the last level, after you kill the two mohawked giants that show up smashing the wall, exploit the edge near the wall on the left to lean out downwards as much as possible (you'd better do it here and now, as later on it will become almost impossible to lean out so much without falling), then move forward and keep fighting while remaining on this edge.
When Willy comes out of the steel door, wait for him to come down to the lower side of the screen; as soon as he leans out downwards enough, hit him and make him fall (be careful in using flying kicks, as you risk to fall on the spikes). If performed with the correct timing, Willy will NOT fall on the ground: he'll fall straight on the spikes, dying at once.
Note : if you use this trick on all the other enemies that show up before Willy, sometimes, after the final boss is thrown in the spikes, an enemy will jump out of the spikes, and fall on them straight afterwards.


1. Double Dragon [Model TA-0021] (1987)
2. Double Dragon II - The Revenge [Model TA-0026] (1988)
3. Double Dragon 3 - The Rosetta Stone [Model TA-0030] (1991)
4. Super Double Dragon (1992, Super Famicom )
5. Double Dragon V - The Shadow Falls (1994, Super NES / Jaguar )
6. Double Dragon (1995, AES / NEO GEO / NEO GEO CD, 1996, Playstation)
7. Double Dragon Advance (2004, GBA)
8. Double Dragon (2009, Zeebo)
9. Double Dragon (2011 iOS / Android)
10. Double Dragon Neon (2012, PS3 / Xbox 360)
11. Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons - (2013, Xbox 360)
12. Double Dragon IV (2017, PS4 / Nintendo Switch / iOS / Android / Windows)


NOTE: Japanese japan ports only listed here.

Nintendo Famicom (apr.8, 1988) "Double Dragon [Model TJC-WD]"
Sega Master System (1988) "Double Dragon [Model G-1369]"
Sony PlayStation 4 [PSN] (nov.27, 2014) "Arcade Archives - Double Dragon [Model CUSA-00391]"

Nintendo Game Boy (jul.20, 1989) "Double Dragon [Model DMG-DOA]"
Nintendo Game Boy Advance (mar.5, 2004) "Double Dragon Advance [Model AGB-BDDJ-JPN]"
Nintendo Game Boy Advance (nov.26, 2004) "Double Dragon Advance [Model AGB-BDDJ-JPN]": "Best Price" re-edition


Game's ROM.
See goodies section.
Liner notes from "Original Sound of Double Dragon".