Double Dragon – Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?

Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?” Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:

Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.

Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.

Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.

Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.

This franchise is spiritual successor of Tecmos’ first major beat ’em up, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, aka Renegade is North America. However, it hit the zeitgeist and became one of the biggest franchises of the 1980’s. Its two player co-op action kept many a gamer playing as Billy Lee or Jimmy as they tried to save Billy’s girlfriend. The two player twist ending where both players had to fight it out against each other delighted millions and would eventually shape the NES version where Jimmy became the secret “true” boss of the game. The game would be ported to nearly every console system ever made, spawn numerous sequels including a crossover with Battletoads and even earn the brothers their own comic book series, live action movie and two seasons of an animated cartoon.

The series went dormant in 1995 after both a Sony Playstation and Neo*Geo remake due to Tecmos going out of business. Eight years later, Atlus and Millions would bring this series back to life with a remake on the Game Boy Advance. It offered new modes, four new stages and the game recieved high praise from gaming review sites and sold pretty nicely as well. Just recently a gaming system for Brazil and Mexico known as the Zeebo saw a remake of the first game in the series at a launch title. Sadly, very few people outside those countries will get a chance to see if the remake is any good. For the rest of the world, this once Triple A franchise has remained dormant. Let’s see what the Diehard GameFAN staff thinks should happen to Double Dragon.


Double Dragon

Dave Olvera – Stay Dead

Double Dragon should probably stay dead.

Billy and Jimmy Lee remind me of the days the side scrolling beat ’em up were everywhere and fun. I still enjoy them but after the movie and last games of the series, I fail to see their relevance to gaming. I was just told that another Double Dragon game was released in Brazil.

I do not understand this need to dredge up old series and create new games from the bones of games long passed. You do not see new versions of Phantasie or Questron. For those not of the C-64 generation, there are no new Flying Dragon games or Strider games (though I don’t put it past Capcom to try. Sometimes it is okay to let franchises die. In fact, in some cases it is mercy killing.

This is not to say Double Dragon was a terrible series. I enjoyed most of the games as killer filler – violent games that fill some time and are fun with friends. Would another side scrolling fight game be welcome? Probably not. A fighter? Niche at best. Could you do a GTA clone with the Lee brothers? Likely but unnecessary. Gaming moves forward, despite some people’s efforts to resurrect anything remotely successful. Double Dragon adds nothing but nostalgia factor and we have enough of that to go around.


Guy Desmarais – Stay Dead

Double Dragon was a pretty good game back in the days, and I remember loving it in the Arcade as well as on the original NES. The problem is that when it comes to the genre, Double Dragon has been surpassed by pretty much everything to come since then. Sure, if the original developer was still on the case, I could see them updating the classic game and making a few bucks, but Zoo is now the owner of the franchise’s publication rights in North America. I don’t want them to make a Double Dragon game.

The series had a good run, but I can’t see any good coming out of it. The concept is there, it’s the development team that isn’t. So leave Jimmy and Billy alone.


A.J. Hess – Spin-Off

I don’t see the title translating well to a co-op, third-person brawler for some reason. So let’s take the formula and apply it where we can have the most fun-Downloadable Content. Stick a new version of this game on online Marketplace, polish up the graphics, and clear out the jumping puzzles. Now we’re talking.


Matt Yeager – Spin-Off

Online co-op modes are all the rage nowadays with Army of Two, Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil 5, Gears of War, and so on. Why not a full co-op brawler? Do a 3D action game spin-off where you could team up with another friend to take on thugs. Sort of like how Rockstar did with The Warriors last gen. With a good developer it could be a lot of fun to grab, punch, and kick your way through a lot of enemies with a friend online.


Widro – Sequel

Many people will say the beat’em genre is antiquated and somewhat dead, but there were a number of releases in the genre in 2009, including a mindless graphical update of TMNT that was fun but shallow, Invisible Tiger, Ragdoll Kung Fu and others. Double Dragon is a perfect candidate for one of two modern conventions – an 8/16-bit style sequel (like Mega Man, Contra), or a graphically enhanced sequel along the lines of Bionic Commando Rearmed or the upcoming Bonk and Sparkster sequels. It might also be fun to have a Double Dragon style 2D game that offers character-based DLC similar to PAIN, where people like Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van-Damme are downloadable as playable or boss characters.


Alexander Lucard – Sequel

Although there is hesitation on my part to see a sequel due to Zoo having the North American publishing rights as part of Empire Interactive shutting down, I’m not really that worried. See, Million still owns the rights to Double Dragon and would still be the developer. Zoo would just get to publish it and couldn’t have any creative control. Zoo is a company that just happens to publish some really bad games, but they have no control over the development.

That being said I would love to see another entry into the Double Dragon universe. I loved the original as well as Double Dragon III which was actually better overall on the NES than it was in the original Arcade version (But the Arcade did have an awesome three player co-op options…) and I absolutely adored Double Dragon Advance and gushed over it in my original review back in 2003 (Holy crap, I’ve been doing this for way too long.). If Million could give DD2 or III the same treatment it gave the original, then we’d have a guaranteed winner on our hands. I’m not sure why Million is sitting on such an awesome license, especially when they’ve shown they can make an awesome game, but I suppose it’s better than just churning out crappy games with the branding one after another.

What I’d really like to see is a direct sequel. Super Double Dragon is meant to be the fourth in the series and was the last one done by Tecmos with the full continuity. Double Dragon V was based on the cartoon series. Plus it was a fighting game rather than a beat ’em up. I’d love to see a TRUE DDV or even DDVI, with Billy and Jimmy kicking ass and taking names. There is actually a pretty nice world and mythos for people to explore if they wanted to make another DD game. I’d prefer it to be a 2-D retro game, as Mega Man 9 has proved those can be successful and fun. Let’s make one happen. Hell, it could even be another Battletoads & Double Dragon game!


Christopher Bowen -Start Over

I don’t see the need to pontificate what Million – the current license holder for the franchise since Technos went bankrupt – *SHOULD* do with Double Dragon, because they’ve already shown their hand. Brizo Interactive developed a new game for the Brazilian Meebo system in 2009. From the look of gameplay videos, I’d say it looks pretty good. The gameplay seems updated, but it looks pretty close in spirit to the original arcade game.

That’s a good thing because otherwise, the Double Dragon name has been killed with fighting games and atrocious cartoons. Even the XBLA version of the game wasn’t very good, and with the rights to publish any games now belonging to Zoo Games – maybe the worst publisher in the business in terms of quality – I’m not sure I want them anywhere near the franchise. Otherwise, I’d be in favour of not only starting over again with Double Dragon, I’d say start again with all the Kunio games.

As it stands, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Zeebo game come over as an XBLA or PSN game. After that? Million’s done a decent job with other former Technos properties, but now that Zoo’s involved, it might as well be trashed.


End Result:

Stay Dead; 2
Sequel: 2
Spin-Off: 2
Start Over: 1


Well, we have our first ever three way tie in this column. The majority of the staff would like to see something done with the Double Dragon license, but we all appear to have different ideas as to what that should be. Who know? Maybe the Zeebo version will eventually make it into English or even as DLC for one of the current system. We’ll have to wait and see.

Next week we’re going to be looking at what is arguably the very first video game RPG series, the fourth game of which is almost universally considered the hardest video game ever made. Join us then.

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