This is a game with so much awesomeness going for it that its hard not to love it. I grew up playing the arcade version of the game at a local neighborhood convenience store. This was one of those places where they had maybe two or three fluttering flourescent lights and what must have been 20 year old pickles in jars on the counter filled with Reanimator bright green pickle juice. Tucked away in the front corner of the store was a line of literally the cream of the crop arcade stand up machines. It really puzzles me, looking back, to understand how this store had such great games. I doubt that the crotchety older gentleman who owned the place knew what he was doing when he was picking which games to put in his store. Maybe he was a time traveller, knowing that his proper selection of grade A game choices would set up a lifetime of illustration fodder for me. Yeah, thats it. Thank you, you space-time continuum tripping sourpuss. Thank you.
Ah, but I digress. The home version of Double Dragon on the Nintendo, as well as the arcade, was perfect in its simplicity. The main difference being the one player aspect of the NES port (but I’ll go on about that later.) The game is perfectly simple; it tells you all you need to know about your motivation for the coming beat down that will be laid to the evil Shadow Warrior gang in the first couple seconds of gameplay. There is no long written out intro, there is this:
Those dudes just gut punched your girl and walk away with her like an evil marching band! It’s on like Donkey Kong.
And so you travel through this relatively short yet ridiculously difficult game learning new moves, fighting new enemies and getting closer to rescuing your girlfriend.
As I said, the main difference between the home NES version and the arcade game was the number of players. The arcade game, which came out first, offered two player, simultaneous beat em up action. The players would work side by side, as brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee. The storyline was to rescue their uh, collective girlfriend from this rival gang. So kids around the world got used to fighting side by side with their primary color clad brother in a display of brotherly love that was downright sickening.
On the other hand, the NES port of the game disposed of the two player together aspect entirely. I’ve read online that this was because programmers had problems making the NES work well with the simultaneous fighting but I offer you a different reason. I think that the way Jimmy Lee is revealed in this game offers a bit more exitement to the storyline. In the arcade game, you work your way through the gang until you meet machine gun toting Willy. He is the boss of the gang and when you defeat him, you save your girl. In the home port, after defeating Willy, it is revealed that the until now invisible Jimmy Lee was behind the capture of your beautiful girlfriend. WHAT?! Bro come on, really?
So the game takes on this underlying sibling rivalry that wasn’t really present in the original. I like it, you can do what you will with it.
SO anyway, whew! On to the illustration. This game always makes me think of the Warriors film. Gosh I love that movie. Can you dig it? The costumes, the feel of the atmosphere and the ridiculous attitudes of the characters just made it so fun. In a way, this illustration is dedicated to the fun of that film as well as Double Dragon. In my mind, they go hand in hand.
The characters, Abobo and Chin Tamei even make an appearance in this illustration because what fanboy doesn’t remember the sheer terror when an Abobo appeared or the utter frustration that was fighting Chin?
This is an original illustration made for the bros at PaletteSwap. I was honored to be able to choose the theme for January for the video game cover art blog. My theme: Double Dragon of course!
So, if you’d like to hang this guy on your wall and remember the good ‘ol days with a couple of spiteful, angry brothers, you can go and order a print at my shop.