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Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone
Console: Arcade
Developer: East Technology
Publisher: Technos
Number of Players: 3
Release Date: 1990

Story | Codes | Characters | Credits | Map | Bezel





By Johnny Undaunted
Associate Editor


You would think that after two half-decent Double Dragon games at the arcades, part 3 would have been a charm.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with the arcade version of Double Dragon 3.  Out of the four Double Dragon games released in the arcades (including Double Dragon for Neo-Geo) this one is the worst.  It bears very little (if any) resemblance to the original game.  Unlike the previous games, DD 3 has something resembling a storyline.  In the end of DD II, Billy and Jimmy went on a journey to improve their martial art skills.  When they arrived home two years later, they met a strange old fortune teller.  The fortune teller, whose name is Hiruko, tells the Double Dragons that if they want to fight the world's strongest fighter, they must find the three Rosetta Stones and go to Egypt.  Of course, Hiruko has her own agenda, but the Dragons don't know any better than to trust what seems to be a harmless old lady.  So off they got to find the three Rosetta Stones.

Graphics: C-

The biggest drop in quality starts with the graphics.  First of all, the character designs are worse than those in DD I or II.  They lack the details they had in DD I and they have very choppy animations.  While the original Double Dragon displayed three or four different enemies, here we only get to see the same two enemies for each stage in various pallets.  The backgrounds may seem detailed and colorful, but make no mistakes: the stages in DD 3 are flat.  Some of the stages have real obstacles like conveyor belts (in Mission One) and bamboo sticks (in Mission Three), but the stages in general are flat compared to those in DD I.  For an arcade game from 1990, the graphics sure suck.

Sound: B-

The music is not so bad.  Each stage and boss has its own theme music that fits in very well.  The music is also full of drumbeats missing from the NES port.  The Sound FX could have been better though.  The voices are a step back from DD II.  While each character in DD II had his or her own individual grunts and yells, here they all have the same generic grunts and yells.

Enemies: B-

Each mission has its set of generic enemies.  In Mission One you must fight against the Neo Black Warriors and their members: fat bikers and thin thugs.  In Mission Two you fight against Kung Fu fighters.  Mission Three has swordsmen and Mission Four has bowmen.  Mission Five has a variety of strange enemies (golems, woodmen) and puzzles.  Each mission also has its own boss.  In Mission One you fight Jim, the leader of the Neo Black Warriors (who happens to be Willy's brother).  He's the easiest boss in the game.  In Mission Two you fight a Kung Fu master named Li who holds the first Rosetta Stone.  The boss of Mission Three is a mysterious ninja named Ranzou.  In Mission Four you fight a gladiator named Giuliano (who reappears in Mission Five).  In the end of Mission Five you fight a series of end-bosses, starting with Hiruko, then the mummy and finally Cleopatra.  Most of the enemies range from being predictable punching bags to being super cheesy (Giuliano and Cleopatra).

Weapons: C

Only two weapons here: a sword and a nunchucks.  Neither of them can be stolen from enemies.  Weapons have to be purchased in item shops (a feature which I'll get into later).  The nunchucks (which are sold in Mission Two) are capable of stunning enemies but are useless against the tougher opponents.  The sword, which can be bought in Missions Three and Five, is the more useful of the two, allowing you to knock down enemies with a vertical slash (punch) or a horizontal slash (kick).  It works effectively against some of the tougher bosses like Giuliano.  You can also use the weapons in midair.

Controls and Moves: B

There are four different types of fighters in DD 3.  The standard fighters are Billy and Jimmy (the third player gets to play as a new character named Sonny, who is probably Billy and Jimmy's long-lost cousin).  Let's start with them.  Billy and Jimmy have your standard set of moves.  Punches, kicks and jump kicks are here.  There is also a back suplex, a dashing head butt, an off-the-wall jump kick and a stomp.  Extra moves can be purchased through the shop like the cyclone kick and a one-armed stand headbutt.  There are also moves that can be done by two players such as the double cyclone kick and the triangle kick.  Also, additional characters can be purchased in shops.  In Missions One and Five you can buy a pro wrestler named Roney.  Mission Two has a chubby Kung Fu fighter named Seimei and Mission Three has a Judo fighter named Masao.  Their second-player and third-player counterparts have different names but they are essentially the same characters.  Each of the extra men has his own set of moves, strengths, weaknesses and even special moves.  The only problem is that in order to control them, you have to kill the character you're controlling first (you can't switch to them when you buy them).  The characters respond quickly to your commands.

Modes: C-

Up to three players can play the game at the same time depending on the cabinet you're playing with.  The new feature in DD 3 is the item shop.  Here you can buy stuff like extra men, moves, energy, power and weapons.  The problem with this feature is that instead of using game money you have to insert additional tokens.  In other words: real money.  Each item costs one credit, which is 25 cents (of course, if you have access to the dip switch setting, you can adjust that so that one token equals two credits) and if a game usually cost 25 cents, then power-ups, moves and energy cost one dollar.  This may not seem like a big deal if you're using an emulator or if you own the machine, but when this game came to the arcades, it was nothing more than a coin-eater.

Conclusion/Overall: C-

Double Dragon 3 had the potential of being a great sequel.  However, the bad graphics, cheap bosses and the shop system prevent the game from accomplishing this.  With the exception of Technos' NES/Famicom version, all the home versions of this game are less-than-arcade-perfect ports of this game, meaning that they are actually worse.  Forget that this P.O.S. existed and get the NES version instead.