Retro Game of the Day! Double Dragon (NES)
Double Dragon by Technos, published in the USA (on Nintendo) by Tradewest. Arcade originally released in 1987, ported to NES a year later. To some, this is the King of beat-em 'ups... or at least the kickoff to a huge gaming trend.
Before DD there were plenty of fighting games, but this was the one that started the craze - mulitplayer, pickups (weapons and powerups), numerous foes and scenes, and the mechanic of having to dispatch a set of enemies before being allowed to proceed to the next level segment.
As you can plainly see, there's quite a gulf between the visual quality of the arcade machine (shown above) and the home NES port (all other pics). This was not unusual at the time, the big kicker was that they castrated the game by removing the 2-Player feature in the home version! Well, no on both counts - the game was still quite fun as a 1-Player journey. A second conciliatory mode was added into this version as well, a player-versus-player mode not available in the arcade. I think it's safe to say most gamers would have preferred that the developer would have passed on the 1-on-1 mode and stuck with the full-game 2-Player mode - this was rectified in the future iterations of the game, fortunately. It should be noted that the big selling point for the Sega Master System version was that it did retain a full 2-Player feature, though there's plenty of other criticisms about that game-
Regardless of one's personal feelings about the solo play, one thing can be said - when this title appeared on the NES, gamers were excited. We were bitter but that washed away quite quickly as the game was well-designed, and a lot of fun. Very colorful, a huge move-set was available - unlike the arcade where you had them all from the outset, you needed to build up EXP points to enhance yoru repertoire. Additionally, the world was full of characters, and the backgrounds were very bright and colorful. It was fun as hell to pummel fools in the digital alleyways of a nighttime 80s Tokyo.
This game birthed a successful franchise, and though it faded into obscurity (too quickly!) it's mark was indelible - would we have ultimately seen a Street Fighter II had we not gone through this popular Double Dragon phase? We'll never know. It's unfortunate to note that Technos was one of those companies that was, ultimately, a one-trick pony - Konami had Gradius, Castlevania and Metal Gear. Capcom had Mega Man, Disney games, Street Fighter. Technos was much smaller and all they had was DD (and the Kunio games). It was not enough and they faded away, as many smaller houses did.