Thursday, August 27, 2020

Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones (NES, 1990)

This is BY FAR the toughest Double Dragon game. I mean, damn. They really overcorrected after the easier second game. This game is so hard that Nintendo Power's coverage of it is just a high-pitched scream.

Like, in the first game or the second game?

Fun Fact: Billy Lee's name is a combination of Bruce Lee and the name of his character from Game of Death, Billy Lo. Also, Jimmy Lee is named after Jimmy Page.

Funner Fact: Jimmy Page was named after Hangman Page, but also Diamond Dallas Page, after the time travelling adventures of Barron Trump.

Play as two characters, and instead you get the infamous BIMMY AND JIMMY scene.

"WE LOVE AMERICA!" say Bimmy and Jimmy.

Wait, what? Marion? I thought she died in the previous game! Are they just retconning that with no explanation? This is why we need instruction booklets to tell us the plot.

Luckily, this creepy person who is definitely not evil shows up to tell us she has the info on Marion's wherabouts. You mean like, where she's buried, since they killed her off already?

In any case, the mysterious woman sends us on a quest around the world to find a trio of Sacred Stones, which will help her open a portal to Outworld help us find Marion, apparently. The first is right here in the USA.

Brett (who?) is apparently Billy's friend at the dojo, and here he is dying after an attack by hooligans. The one we have to worry about is...who? WHO, DAMMIT? BRETT!!

From there, the kick-punch adventure begins. This one immediately feels different from the previous games, because enemies sprint at you and open with flying kicks that take off a quarter of your health. Yikes.

The first boss is...this guy. I miss the bad guy lineup of the first game, with the iconic Abobo and Chintai.

...and I game over, quickly discovering that if you die one time in this game, you START OVER. The whole thing. Good Lord. Apparently there's a Game Over screen code that'll let you continue on the final level if you get that far, at least. But it only works on the final level.

The first Sacred Stone is acquired after that stage. Two more! The good news is that it restores your health between stages. Imagine if it didn't, with your one life.

Mission 2 takes us to China, where we visit the Great Wall and somebody's love shack.

This love shack is anything but, as our hero brawls with more goons. They also have a lot more hit points in this game. At least they only attack two at a time.

Behold! Chintai's brother, uh...Chin.

Sounds like Chin has the kind of lifelong grudge that he'll never get over, short of death.

I guess we have to do this, then.

Flying kicks are absolutely the way to go against the CPU. Much like fighting Goro in the original Mortal Kombat on the SNES, if you jump kick, CPU no can defend.

After defeating Chin, he...joins us? Really? Even though we murdered his brother?

I'm a big fan of the "bad guys join the good guy after he defeats them" trope so I'll take it.

With the first stone, our next trip is to Japan. The first screen here is complete BS, with random spikes just murdering you out of nowhere from the floor with no pattern or rhyme to it.

From here the levels basically just consist of single hallways where you fight a horde-style procession of enemies until you eventually win. It's very odd and feels like they ran out of development time.

The next boss is a ninja! "You may have gotten past my men" he says, "But can you get past a woman?"

After a dramatic, confusing pause, the fight begins.

The second stone is acquired! One more and that old lady can wish for immortality and conquer the Earth. Also Ranzou joins, like Chin. If Billy dies, you can play as them. Every character only has one life, though. So good luck.

Wait what? No stage for the third stone? Yeah, definitely running low on dev time-

Wait what? So there's a stage four before you go to the final area, but it doesn't have a stone. We're just going to Italy to...practice? Why not just have the third stone be there?

Italy is Stage 4 and it certainly looks cool. I'm really into this world-trotting theme that you see a lot in games of this era (Earthbound, Ninja Gaiden)

At this point I "practice" by getting completely mauled by Dutch from Predator.

"Let's see you DAAAANCE sucka you got nothin' on me!" says Billy while doing a beautiful triple axel.

Unfortunately this boss doesn't join the party. It's just Chin and Ranzou.

The fifth and final stage takes us to Egypt. Good thing there's a code for this because the stage is obscenely difficult, with platforms and enemies feverishly trying to knock you off of them.

Drop down and there's no escape, as more horde-modes of goons assault our hero.

After taking a death, Billy is out of the game FOREVER. Now I play as Chin, who is fairly OP and considerably easier to play as than Billy due to his fast palm strikes.

Chin unleashes jump kicks! I liked that Chintai was inspired by Bruce Lee. You can see Bruce Lee inspiration all over this series, like the boxarts that resemble the posters of various Bruce Lee movies.

Hiruko shows up with the two stones I got for her and the third one she secretly had for some reason. These let her unlock the tomb, which has...something important in it.

What the? IT WAS YOU! YOU screwed Brett!

Wait, there's a fourth now? And it's right past this door? Dammit! She used us all along! Billy died for nothing!

She goes into the final room...then stumbles out and dies.

This sudden wall of text reminds me of Highlander: The Source and how it gives you this big dose of narration at the end to explain WTF happened in the movie. In any case...Hiruko's pursuit of power cost her, and she was slain by...

...mummies? The next part is a gauntlet fight against a whole bunch of mummies. They have massive HP, and are easily defeated with flying kicks.

Numerous flying kicks. For minutes on end.

Defeat all of them and the real villain appears: "Princess Noiram"

She's dressed like a sorceress for some reason and seems to be possessed by some ancient Egyptian spirit.

This is a hell of a difficult final boss, and I feel sorry for anyone who got this far only to be squashed. She can attack with invisible telekenetic waves.

And a snake form that teleports around and will track/hit you pretty much no matter what unless you jump out of the way at the last second before she strikes.

Chin is sent to meet his maker, which gives us the final character: RANZOU. He's probably the most powerful character, so they made your last life count. He can do a lot of damage with sword strikes, and jumps much higher than the other two.

He manages to finish the fight with a combination of flying attacks followed by rapid slashes.

::turns "Noiram" backwards in shock::

My God. No one could have foreseen this!

So she isn't dead, but she was under a spell? It'd make a lot more sense if the mummy revived her to possess her.

And now, the end credits tell you what happened to everyone while "Jitterbug" plays.

Jitterbug! Into my brain! (Yeah Yeah) Goes-a bang bang bang 'til my feet do the same!

Wake me up! Before ya Gokou! Cause I ain't planning on goin' solo!

Chin: "You guys killed the absolute fuck out of my brother! But you also defeated me in battle! Let's remain friends!"

Wait, what? One day he'll become Emperor?


Wait, wasn't this guy evil?

Wake me up, before ya Gokou yeah! Take me dancin' toniiiight!

"...heed our words, Dick Cheney" was on the next screen. How?? What did Technos Japan Corp know in 1990? Was this also the work of Barron Trump, time traveler?

Notice how Marion is completely missing from the credits, despite being alive and well and like, existing. In any case, this game was way too difficult to be fun. While I liked Double Dragon, the sequels have been leaving a lot to be desired. Well, we've got one more chance at a good classic DD game from that era: Super Double Dragon.


  1. There are some pretty big differences between the Japanese and US versions of the game, namely:

    1. The thugs you fight in the first stage are members of the new incarnation of the Black/Shadow Warriors, and the boss of that stage is Willy's brother. In the US release they're just random goons who popped up out of nowhere. They're also explicitly the guys who killed Brett (Or Aldo, as he's called there) in the Japanese version, so there's no mystery there.

    2. Marian (Or Marion, if this game is to be believed) is perfectly safe in the Japanese version and never actually appears in the game, except for the small manga included in the manual, so that explains the whole Noiram nonsense and why she seems so shoehorned into the storyline.

    3. "Why not have the third stone be there?" In the Japanese version of the game Hiruko has the third stone already, although you don't find this out until you've beaten the stage, unlike the US version, where you get the second and third stones after stage 3. The boss also gives you a map to the pyramid after you fight him.

    4. The whole text box about what happened with Hiruko is yet another thing that didn't exist in the Japanese version and is specific to the US one.

  2. Oh my double dragon 3, I beat this game a long time ago and this thing still give me nightmares x.x! beat it with hanzou and with my wrist hurting because all the spamming with the flying kick I was wondering if you are gonna cover the 2 Double dragon fighting games and the crossover one with the battletoads (and if you are gonna do it I salute you because battletoads and double dragon... is hard)

  3. Wow, so much plot in this one.

    Less fun is The Simpsons Bart vs. the World.

    Extra characters as extra lives is a good idea but the game is still too hard.