Double Dragon


Genre: Action

Developer: Tradewest

Total time played: 15 hours over 2 years (since I have been documenting).  But realistically probably 50 hours over 25 years.

Short review: I honestly don’t know if this game is good or not as I can’t separate my nostalgia from the game. A very simple beat-em up with a cliche “save the girl” story.

Interesting links related to Double Dragon

When I was about 7 years old my cousin Jamie, who was 10, came to spend the night at my house and brought Double Dragon.  I had never heard of it before but was very excited to play it based on how excited Jamie was.  He said “I got Double Dragon for keeps”.  I don’t know why this exact phrase stuck permanently in my head.  Turns out, he just rented it, it wasn’t for keeps.

Several years later while I spent the night with Jamie we rented Double Dragon again and I watched  him beat the game.  It was something I didn’t think was possible (he also beat Metroid which I still find astonishing as it was before the internet and we had no strategy guide).

Since I was 7 years old I have been playing Double Dragon at least a few times per year and for some reason I was never able to beat it until today.  There are a few speed run and playthroughs on YouTube but the game never gets touched at the live Games Done Quick charity events even though both Double Dragon 2 and Double Dragon 3 are played regularly.

Double Dragon features a level up system that was rare for this type of game when it came out.  You get points for punching and kicking enemies, every 1,000 points a heart appears under you life bar and with each new heart you learn a new move.  These moves come in handy later.

Here is the cast of characters you will encounter throughout the game.  Double Dragon doesn’t have a huge variety of enemies but each is very distinct in their look and fighting style.



Double_Dragon_NES_enemy_RoperRoper or Rowper (can be either black or white)

Double_Dragon_NES_enemy_AboboAbobo (can be black, white or green)

Double_Dragon_NES_enemy_ChinChin (can wear red pants with red hair)

Double_Dragon_NES_enemy_WillyMachine Gun Willy

Double_Dragon_NES_enemy_Jimmy_LeeJimmy Lee


Now, for my thoughts on each of the 4 missions.

Mission 1

Mission 1

       Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

The stage starts off with the games story.  Your girlfriend is standing in the street when she is punched in the stomach by a thug and taken away.  That’s it, that’s all the story the game gives.

When the mission starts you are in the slums and have to fight your way through 2 Williams, 2 Lindas, 4 Ropers, 5 Lindas, 2 Ropers and the boss Abobo.  The game only had enough memory for two distinct characters and three total characters to be on screen at once.  Since Billy, the character you control is always on screen that means the other two characters must be the same.  Seriously every fight in the game is Billy fighting twins.

Once you reach the far right of mission 1 there is a gray wall with what appear to be two gutters going up the side.  For some reason you can walk up this wall.  It does absolutely nothing to walk up this wall but as a kid every time I played the game I would walk up the wall just for fun.

The boss Abobo is one of my favorite NES sprites of all time.  He is just so big, tough and mean looking.  I am not the only one who thinks this, Abobo has his own flash game online called Abobo’s Big Adventure.  I highly recommend checking it out as you control Abobo and play through levels of other classic NES games.

The secret to beating him quickly is to get him on the conveyor belt and jump kick him off the edge.  But, I usually just kick him because you earn more experience points this way.  The quicker you level up and learn new moves the easier the game is.

Here is a bead art project I recently made showing the end of Mission 1 of Double Dragon:


Mission 2

Mission 2

 Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

Mission 2 isn’t any longer than mission 1 and you don’t fight any new enemies until you climb the parking structure and get to the boss.  But, there are a couple of interesting things in this level.

Every section of this level features a weapon you can use.  Section 1 there is a box, section 2 dynamite, section 3 a bat and section 4 a whip.  Honestly I don’t ever pick up the weapons with exception to the bat as it allows you to exploit a glitch to max out your experience.  This glitch isn’t necessary as playing normally allows you to get all 7 hearts before the final stage but I always do it anyway.

After fighting the Williams with the dynamite you have to climb the chain link fence.  Knock down the Williams up top with a jump kick and steal his bat.  Jump off or climb down the chain link on the other side of the giant hole and slowly walk until you see the tall blue pillar in the background where the green circle is on the image above.  Once this pillar is on screen you should see a Williams appear.  Immediately turn around and climb back up the chain link fence and walk all the way to the left of the giant hole.  Now go back, the Williams is gone but if you swing your bat where he was standing (usually right in front of the blue pillar) you get 25 experience with each swing. If you do this for about a minute you will completely max out your experience.

Once you have done this you can use what is the best move in the game, the elbow attack.  Approach any enemy and turn your back to them and press A.  if you time it correctly you will hit the enemy in the face with your elbow.  This move kills Williams and Linda in 1 hit, Roper in 2 hits and Abobo in 4 hits.

Climb the parking structure and run into the pink haired Chin.  Chin usually blocks the elbow attack but if you kick him at the right time you will perform the hair pull maneuver.  If done correctly you can knee him in the head 4 times and then throw him over your shoulder and off the side of the parking garage.  When I was younger I would jump off after him and if timed correctly the stage would end before I fell to my death.  I have stopped doing this as I killed myself half of the time trying to do it.

Mission 3

Mission 3-1

Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

Stage 3-1 is pretty straight forward.  A couple of the Williams’ you fight early in the mission will have a knife, so be careful.  If you are standing in front of them they will throw it at you and do major damage. The next segment features 3 Chins, the mission 2 boss.

When you get to the bridge it can get tricky.  By tapping A+B you can perform a jump kick.  The jumping in Double Dragon is not nearly as responsive or easy to control as in a game like Super Mario Bros. so be careful.  If you time the jump perfectly you will land in front of a Williams with a knife.  If he hits you there is a good chance you are going to be knocked back into the water and die.  Once you get past the bridge and a few Ropers you approach a stone wall.  This stone wall was a literal stone wall for me for years, I could not get past it.

Two Abobos punch through the wall and you must take them both on at once.  Luckily Double Dragon has polite enemies, if they are both on the same side of you the one not getting hit by you just stands there and waits his turn to fight.  There are 2 ways to take down Abobo, the slow way (18 jump kicks) or the fast way (4 elbows).  As you would expect the elbow punch is much faster but is also more dangerous as Abobo can dodge and counter pretty easily.  This is a spot I spent years trying to get past.  Once you beat the Abobos you go into the hole they created in the wall.  If you don’t go into the hole and continue to walk right the stage loops and you have to do it all again.

Mission 3-2

Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

Once inside the cave you have to deal with falling stalactites.  This part used to give me a lot of trouble but with some patience you can get through.  Once you get to the silver floating platforms you have to be very careful.  Like I said earlier the jumping in the game is kind of clunky so crossing the gap is tricky.  Luckily if you fall you don’t die but just have to loop the stage and do the stalactite section again.  If you make it across the jump you fight two Chins and enter a door.

Mission 3-3

Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

After fighting a few Williams’ with dynamite in a psychedelic waterfall room with flashing lights you are forced to go down.  You can jump but you may land in the lava so I just fall of the ledge.  The face Billy makes as he falls looks like you are falling to your death but I promise you won’t get hurt.  Once you make it to the bottom and past a few more falling stalactites you are  faced with 2 more Abobos, this time they are green.  Go into the hole they created in the wall to reach the final section of mission 3.

Mission 3-4

 Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

 Fight through 7 Lindas and make your way to the bottom right of the screen.  Once all the Linda’s are dead the door opens.  No boss on this level.

Mission 4

Mission 4-1

Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

Mission 4 is no joke.  I can now consistently get to this mission without dying but the beginning of the mission features the hardest part in the game for me.  I shouldn’t say hard as I am convinced getting past it is just luck.  In the image above there are two sections towards the left that feature a big stone wall.  Random stones shoot out of the wall knocking you down.  If you get hit 3 or so times you die.  If you get hit once you get knocked down and pretty much as soon as you get up you get hit again.  Sometimes I can walk straight past the walls and not get hit, other times I lose all 3 lives and have to start the game over.  I have yet to find a way to get through this section on a regular basis.

If you are lucky enough to get past the walls you are faced with 5 Chins, two of which have knives.  If you stand below the torch on the right and face to the left you can usually grab the Chin’s hair and toss him over your shoulder into the hole.  Once all the Chin’s are dead jump the hole and another Abobo punches through the wall.  Ignore him and just climb the stone wall.  At the top you are faced with 7 Ropers.  Just use the same strategy as on the Chins.  Stand near the hole facing away from it and toss the Ropers over your shoulder into the hole.  There are never more than 2 enemies on the screen at once so it isn’t too hard.

Mission 4-2

Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

In this section you can pretty much ignore the enemies.  Just keep climbing and moving right.  There are a few tricky jumps in this area but with a little practice you can breeze through.  Once you enter the yellow door at the top right of the screen you are in the home stretch.

Mission 4-3

Click on the image to enlarge.  Thanks to for the images

Look at the above image.  Every enemy in the game has come to this final party and they have all gotten tougher.  The 7 Williams you fight have mastered the art of the jump kick and aren’t afraid to use it.  Be careful, if you move Billy down to the bottom of the screen he falls to his death, that blue strip at the bottom of the screen is spikes.

The red carpet has been rolled out for the final battle.  First you fight 2 Abobos, then 2 Chins, one with a knife, then 2 Lindas and then 2 Ropers.  After beating all of these enemies you are faced with Machine Gun Willie and he is no joke.  I would guess I played through this game 100 times and was knocked out 99 times by Machine Gun Willie.  I can’t really give a strategy other than telling you to stay away from the machine gun.  If he shoots you twice you are almost guaranteed to die.  On top of that, he has a lot of health.  Where most enemies die after getting knocked down 2-4 times it takes 7-8 knock downs for this guy.  The worst part about this fight is that when you die you have to fight everyone all over again starting with the 2 Abobos.

If you are lucky enough to beat Willie you are faced with the final battle against your twin brother Jimmy.  If you die on Jimmy and are lucky enough to have another life you start on him and don’t have to fight Machine Gun Willie again. Luckily Jimmy isn’t that tough.  Just kick him until he dies.  He has at least double the health as any character in the game so it takes quite a bit of time to knock him out for good but the fight isn’t that tough.

After 25 years of playing Double Dragon I was able to save my girlfriend.  Again, I don’t know if I love this game because it is good or just because it brings back the nostalgia of child hood.  But, I am very proud to say that I can finally beat Double Dragon

Double Dragon


3 thoughts on “Double Dragon

  1. To beat Willy, like one FAQ/walkthrough writer helpfully points out on the GameFAQs website, be ready at the door as he comes in and start Turbo Kick – ing him (or just keep pressing Kick button as fast as you can repeatedly). You should knock him down even as he comes into the room. Then, as he is down, position yourself along the same line, such that your the end of Billy’s legs during a kick are just above the end of his legs (lying down). Then Turbo Kick again, to keep destroying his health. In my case, Billy always seems to end up doing a hair grab. Anyway, Turbo Kick – ing like that is a guaranteed knock-down for Willy again. So, keep doing that, and if Willy escapes move up and down and Turbo Kick again as Willy is heading up or down into your reach one more time.
    Should be an easy victory with this strategy, every time.

    (Unfortunately, the guy who suggested this strategy, on GameFAQs, was not as inspired with his strategy for the stone wall at the beginning of Mission 4… Don’t trust ALL of his strategy if you’re going to look it up.
    So, if you didn’t have this tip and needed it, or even if at least you didn’t know about the GameFAQs website, you’re welcome! – Thanks for introducing me to Abobo[‘]! That’s why I thought I should say something.)


    1. Thanks for the tips. I have read through some gameFAQs but the Double Dragon ones have always seemed incomplete. I ended up watching a lot of speed run videos to get strategies. As far as the mission 4 wall, I’m convinced there is no strategy and sometimes it is impossible to get through. Glad you are liking Abobo’s Big Adventure, it is such an awesome idea and fun game.

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