Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

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Eddie MountainGoat
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Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Eddie MountainGoat »

A while ago, I sent an email to the mailbag, about the character design of a couple of Rage of the Dragons characters, who I believe are inside references to earlier DD characters (anyone is welcome to disagree with me, but I think the similarities are too constant to be coincidental).

I figured I’d go a little more interactive, and share my thoughts about the DD Neo Geo character designs. You can see them all, at http://www.fenixware.net/fab/fab_gameCostume.asp?id=126 . You’re still welcome to disagree, or post your own opinions, or even agree!

SO, I can’t not start with the Double Dragons themselves.

In short, I don’t like these designs, much. They don’t look like the Kenshiro-based Double Dragons we know. They don’t resemble or dress like the Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos movie incarnations, which the game is supposed to tie in to. Even the cartoon (and DDV) look was more faithful to the original design. Heck, even in the comic, at least Jimmy’s suit was red. Whereas here, none of his palette variations are his trademark colour, or even the white / silver alternate, from arcade DD II.

The exception, of course, is when you power them up into Dragon mode, when they wear the Dragon Medallion Kung Fu suits, from the movie (of which Jimmy’s is Red), but this does not help newcomers.

The one positive thing I have to say about the DD NG look is that as with the original, Billy is blonde and Jimmy is brown-haired. It took me a while to accept that change.

So the question is, where does this new look come from? Elbow pads? Hoodies? Ankle-high sneakers that look like roller-skates? And what happened to the old, Kenshiro look?

Well, at least that last part has an easy answer: It went to Dulton.

Dulton is clearly based on the Kenshiro-Double Dragon idea; He dresses exactly like Ken, and his character, a travelling vagabond who is searching for someone, has “Ken” written all over it. He even has Billy’s original blonde mullet. The only thing that’s out of place is his red baseball cap.

Not convinced? You don’t have to be. But look what happens when I replace the baseball cap with Billy / Jimmy’s scalp, and apply some re-paletting, courtesy of Amon.

Image

Which side resembles the Double Dragons you know?

Image

(Original sprites and portraits found at fight-a-base, background image taken from the Dojo.)

But this still does not explain where they pulled they new look from. It could simply be a random, new idea. On the other hand, Billy’s primary (‘A’) sprite does kinda ring familiar with some other sidescroller heroes. Compare it with Max, the boxer from Metamorphic Force (second from the left, at http://www.klov.com/images/10/1051007960.jpg ). Or with the Marquee of DJ Boy (top of http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=7480 ). The big difference with that one, of course, is again the red baseball cap.

Coincidence? Or did they take away DJ Boy’s cap and rename him Billy, then plonk it on Billy, and rename him Dulton (Dulton J Boy?). If so, this may be the reason that Marian’s fighting style is based on skating.

Thoughts?
Jonny2x4
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Re: Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Jonny2x4 »

To be honest, I always thought Double Dragon NG was just an unrelated fighting game that Technos changed halfway during development to turn it into a Double Dragon movie tie-in. Its likely Technos saw Tradewest's work with Double Dragon V and decided "we can do that too".

I don't know what's their source, but according to this page, Technos had plans to make another Neo-Geo game called Death Match before Double Dragon came out. If this is true, its likely Death Match became Double Dragon during development.

Dulton looks more like a Terry Bogard pastiche to me and shares many of the same tropes you see in most fighting game protagonists (including the whole wandering stranger bit). Its likely he was meant to be the main character before they added Billy and Jimmy to the roster (assuming Double Dragon was indeed an unrelated game).
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Eddie MountainGoat
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Re: Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Eddie MountainGoat »

Food for thought. But if you’re right, I still think they should have stuck with the Dulton sprites, for Billy and Jimmy.

Moving on, my thoughts on Abobo and Marian.

Of all the characters who were in the movie, Abobo’s portrayal is the most accurate; particularly given the moves that make his muscles swell to oversized proportions, like the ‘steroid chair’ thing made them do (the Dojo has a pic of this, on the Film page). Given that the game and the movie are supposed to be connected, I could leave it at that, and say that the Abobo sprites are dead-on perfect.

As for his accuracy to the games, he kinda feels like a compromise between the arcade and NES incarnations, being white and clean-shaven, but still having the mohawk. The singlet is a new addition, not to mention the codpiece.

Overall, does it feel like Abobo? As far as I’m concerned, it’s as effort that passes. Just. It certainly feels close enough to his movie incarnation. And it’s WAY better than the Double Dragons. But I would have liked to have seen a look that was closer to the games. And it would have been nice if he’d had a dark skinned alternate palette, and a green skinned alternate palette.

As for Marian, my initial impression was similar to that of the Double Dragons; Not very impressed.

She doesn’t have her standard red duds, or the alternate gold ones, from the arcade sequel (or the first two seconds of it, anyway). And, like the Double Dragons, she doesn’t look like the movie incarnation (although that’s probably a good thing). On the plus side, I never liked her as a cop with short, red hair, so this is a step up from that (it just didn’t feel like the Marian I knew. Even Alyssa Milano’s portrayal was better).

But on looking closer, I found this is a composite of previous portrayals. She has the short, brown hair from the arcade games, and the pink tank top and denim cutoffs, from the promotional media for DD II.

All told, it still doesn’t look much like Marian. They should have gone completely one way or the other; either this gear with long, blonde hair, or the red gear with this hair. Although, whichever way they chose, the other would have been an ideal alternate palette (and so would a gold one).

Not a perfect effort, and not as good as Abobo, but still better than Billy and Jimmy.
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Re: Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Jonny2x4 »

Marian's hair color seems to vary between brown and blond in the Neo-Geo game. She's a brunette during gameplay, but in the official art she's clearly a blonde (as well as in her ending).

I think the flier art for Double Dragon II was commissioned before they even made the game. Billy and Jimmy are in their original blue and red outfits instead of the black and white they actually wear in the game, while one of them is posing heroically with Marian when she doesn't even return to life in the arcade version like she later did in the NES version.

Either way, her design in the original game was pretty generic anyway, considering how many beat-em-ups always feature a blonde in a dress who gets kidnapped (then again, Marian was one of the first).

I like the design they once considered for the GBA game though. Almost like an amalgam of her color scheme from the second NES game and the Lee brothers' outfit.
http://www.ne.jp/asahi/hzk/kommander/ddastaff4.html

As for Abobo's NG design, I don't think its that tough to make a strongman with mohawk, which is what Abobo was in the original games.
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Riki Kunio
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Re: Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Riki Kunio »

Those edited Dulton sprites definitely look closer to the average Billy and Jimmy look. I never really noticed how off Billy and Jimmy looked compared to the movie because I watched maybe about 10 minutes on TV and was too put off to watch anymore. Definitely looks like something was up.
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Eddie MountainGoat
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Re: Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Eddie MountainGoat »

Jonny2x4 wrote:I think the flier art for Double Dragon II was commissioned before they even made the game. Billy and Jimmy are in their original blue and red outfits instead of the black and white they actually wear in the game, while one of them is posing heroically with Marian when she doesn't even return to life in the arcade version like she later did in the NES version.


True. Not to mention that Marian’s with Jimmy, rather than Billy.

Jonny2x4 wrote:Either way, her design in the original game was pretty generic anyway, considering how many beat-em-ups always feature a blonde in a dress who gets kidnapped (then again, Marian was one of the first).


PrimeOp has written a rather humorous little article about that, at http://scrollboss.illmosis.net/mw.php?page=blonde . He left out Catty Skylark and the princesses from Golden Axe and Hunchback, but it’s a fun read.

Jonny2x4 wrote:I like the design they once considered for the GBA game though. Almost like an amalgam of her color scheme from the second NES game and the Lee brothers' outfit.
http://www.ne.jp/asahi/hzk/kommander/ddastaff4.html


Yeah, I actually thought the same thing, when I first saw it. That was from when they were considering using her as a playable character.

Jonny2x4 wrote:As for Abobo's NG design, I don't think its that tough to make a strongman with mohawk, which is what Abobo was in the original games.


Again, true. But this does not account for his muscle-swelling moves.

This time, it’s Burnov. And I gotta say, this design is nigh-on flawless. Burnov is the only character who fully retains his original look, with the Fudoh-like armour and facemask. I’m guessing that if Double Dragon was originally Death Match, this character was added only after the change.

The singlet is new, the armour has four straps rather than three, and mask has separate eyeholes rather than one slit, but these can be dismissed as design progressions, in the development of a more detailed sprite.

I have a couple of nitpicks, but they’re minor:

Firstly, I don’t like the mohawk. Not so much the fact that he never had one before (like the above attributes, it could just be a development of the previous design), but since Abobo and Eddie already have mohawks, a little more variety would have been nice.

Secondly, I would have preferred it if the paletting was like the original. The armour colouring is pretty close (red, blue and grey, plus a new gold one), but the pants and hair are not. Once again, this could be design evolution. As well as this, I think the red armour is a bit comical, and I don’t think it should have been the primary sprite (and therefore, the ‘real’ look of the character). I would have preferred to see:

A) The grey (C) armour, with blue (A) pants and red hair;
B) The blue (D) armour , with red pants (and any hair);
C) The red (A) armour, with white pants and hair AND BLUE SKIN;
D) The gold (B) armour, and whatever because it’s new.

But seriously, the Burnov look hits the nail, right on the head. It’s just unfortunate that it’s the only one to do so.

Even his background looks like post-apocalyptic city ruins. Although they’re a bit more in-your-face, than the cartoony feel of the sidescrollers.
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Re: Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Eddie MountainGoat »

Riki Kunio wrote:Those edited Dulton sprites definitely look closer to the average Billy and Jimmy look.
Thanks, I thought so!
Riki Kunio wrote:I never really noticed how off Billy and Jimmy looked compared to the movie because I watched maybe about 10 minutes on TV and was too put off to watch anymore.
You made the smart decision.

There’s only one character from the sidescollers I haven’t yet looked at, and that’s Duke.

Like the Double Dragons, Duke’s design has radically changed. The singlet and fatigues have been replaced with a more elaborate, Kung Fu suit. But unlike the Double Dragons, this is a change that works in the character’s favour.

The paletting is dead-on perfect, with Duke wearing the exact colours he wore in Super DD, orange and black.

I have one complaint, but it is a significant one: Duke’s head. His original, ponytailed look gave him a very Steven Segal appearance, and I think it was the inspiration for Raymond’s head in DD Advance. Whereas here, the face just looks a little too cute to be menacing, and the Chinese bun makes him look like a completely new character. Almost as if this was supposed to be a completely different character, and they just gave him an orange and black palette, as an excuse to say he’s Duke.

As a side note, Duke’s stage looks like a generic DD boss room, with the door in the middle of the background, red carpeting, and statues. And I think the dragon symbol on the carpet was the one on the back of the Dragon Medallion suits, in the movie.
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Eddie MountainGoat
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Re: Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Eddie MountainGoat »

The only pre-existing character I haven’t looked at is Shuko. Now I must admit at the start, I’m kinda biased against this character. I didn’t like him in the film. I didn’t really like anything about the film.

The good part is, everything about the game is better than its film-counterpart. Including Shuko.

Having said that, his appearance is sufficiently similar, to keep it familiar. Well, the head is. The body has completely changed, making him now look like a legitimate Martial Artist. But his face is close enough, with subtle alterations and expressions to make him actually look evil. I particularly like the glowing eyes, and ominous frown. And the goatee and hairstyle are pretty much the same, without the goofy, peroxide deal. Although ironically, while it looked goofy in live-action, that hair might have looked more in place, in a beat ‘em up.

He doesn’t really look like a worthy end boss. And he’s certainly no Machine Gun Willy. Even the cartoon Shadow Master had a better design.

On a semi-related note there, it would have been cool if he had moves where he summoned – or transformed into – one or both of the shadow wraiths, like he did in the movie (and why not, since Billy and Jimmy can both transform into their movie-medallion forms?).

I didn’t much like the primary, purple palette, until I reasoned that Willy wears purple, in a lot of the DD 1 art (even though he’s never actually worn it in any of the games).

So overall? Well, I don’t much like the effort, but then I don’t much like Shuko on general principle. But as a Shuko conversion, this is not a bad job. Like everybody else, it’s better than the Double Dragons. And it’s better, yet still reminiscent, of Shuko’s appearance in the movie. As much as I hate to concede this, the final result is at least a fair one.
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Re: Double Dragon (Neo Geo) character designs

Post by Eddie MountainGoat »

From here, it’s pretty much open-ended, as the remaining cast are all new.

As Johnny Undaunted said, Amon looks very similar to Yagyu Ranzou. In fact, it was a pretty silly omission on Technos’ part, to not just call this ninja Yagyu Ranzou. Even if this was supposed to be an original character, in an original game called Death Match, once they decided to call it Double Dragon, they should have changed his name. And a purple palette, like in arcade DD 3, would have been nice. Still, his primary white corresponds to his NES portrait, and his alternate red (D) is what his NES sprite wears. And you can’t really have a ninja without a black palette. So yeah, ditch the blue one.

Likewise, Cheng Fu’s name should simply have been changed to Chin Taimei. Chin was never a drunken fist master, but the generic kung fu costume is sufficiently similar to what Chin wore in arcade DD II. Plus, the hairstyle is the same as his NES promotional material.

Additionally, his primary purple suit matches his NES DD clothing, and his blue (B) and green (C) alternates match his DD II duds, for the arcade and NES respectively. The black one should have been ditched for a yellow one, like in the arcade. And it might have been an idea to give him purple hair, or at least an alternate palette with purple hair.

As for Eddie and Rebecca, I’ve got nothing.

So that's the entire cast!

I might move from here into Rage of the Dragons, or compare the three characters that have both DD NG and RoTD incarnations.

Thoughts?
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