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The True Story Of Double Dragon

by Ben Reeves on Dec 28, 2013 at 01:00 PM

The original Double Dragon was one of the first beat-em-ups to ever hit arcades. For a time it was a cultural icon, but how well do you know its story?

I remember when I first encountered Double Dragon on the NES I thought it was the coolest game I'd ever encountered. It's story wasn't complicated, but I thought I understood it. Billy Lee was the guy in blue, and his brother Jimmy Lee was the guy in red. After their girlfriend (I never really understood who she belonged to) was captured by a group of street thugs, the Lee brothers went on a journey to save her.

A glance at the NES instruction manual reveals a story that isn't much more complicated (it was Billy's girlfriend.)

That last line is really surprising as it gives away the twist at the end of the game – basically you have to fight your own brother and the guy you've been fighting beside for several hours. But, that's not nearly as surprising as the original story for the game, which was revealed in the Japanese Famicom manual. Look at this cool Japanese poster for the game:

Anyway, the original story for Double Dragon isn't much different than the U.S. version, but it does elaborate on a few points. For example, Billy and Jimmy are twins from New York City who run a chain of popular martial arts dojos. However, after a nuclear war kills off much of the city, the society devolves into chaos. That's right, Double Dragon took place in a post apocalyptic future. Looking back, you can see how this plot influenced the game's development: the backgrounds were dilapidated, and your enemies looked like Mad Maxian wastelanders who occasionally sported odd colored skin.

Have you ever experienced this before? What games from your youth took on new meaning once you explored their story a bit more?