To be honest, I'd never heard about a Double Dragon 3 arcade game until I discovered it was being ported to the Genesis. When I finally played the arcade version of DD 3, I suddenly knew why I hadn't heard of it before. It was so bad that no arcade operator in his right mind would have let it take up precious space on the floor. The terrible graphics, stiff animation and Technos Japan's terrible coin-sucking buy-in system made DD 3 the worst game of the arcade series. And unfortunately for us, Flying Edge decided to port this pain to one of the classic Sega consoles.
In a pleasant surprise the graphics are better on the Genesis than in the arcade. While the character palette suffers from the console's hardware limitations, the character graphics are just as big (if not a little bigger) than in the arcade original. Character animation is still a little stiff, but more fluid than the choppy arcade animation. Backgrounds are virtually identical, which is a wash considering how bland and static the arcade's backgrounds were. The title screen and cinema are perfectly rendered, and Hiruko's face is even animated. The graphics have been carried over pretty well, despite the fact that the arcade game's graphics were nothing special.
Considering the Genesis' weak sound processor, the music is quite well done. The tunes seem directly lifted from the arcade, as do the sounds. Naturally, the sounds are low-fi, but otherwise they are identical to their arcade counterparts. The voice effects announcing the mission and country you're in as well as the shopkeepers' voices are gone, but considering how bad they were to begin with, that's a good thing. Again, a great job was done porting the sound from the arcade, but the arcade music was mundane and pedestrian to begin with, so the soundtrack and FX are still lacking. Somebody should get the music guy who did the soundtrack for first few games on the phone.
This is where the strength of most Double Dragon games lies. Note that I said most, because the enemies in Double Dragon 3 are a far cry from the Williams and Ropers of old. Enemy design is decidedly uninspired, from the guys in white shirts and jeans to the stupid walking tree trunks (what was that about?). Bosses are just plain bad. The first level boss is your stereotypical gang member (complete with bad haircut). Italy's equestrian boss looks like a reject from Capcom's "Warriors of Fate." And what's up with the topless buff guys with arrows? I think a romance novel somewhere is missing its cover boys. Of course, this wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so cheap. You can't land a blow on any of these guys without getting at least 20 damage points off your 200-something-point life. They fight really cheap and constantly gang up on you. The later bosses, like the old lady, will make you need the maximum 25 credits/lives that you can get.
"Useless." That's the only word that adequately describes the weapons. First of all, you have to buy them using one of your credits (you can start out with as many as 25 virtual quarters and earn them as you go along) and they don't do much good at all. They're either too slow (i.e. the sword) or have limited reach (i.e. the nunchucks). They don't do all that much damage considering that they're weapons, and it's best to stick with your bare fists. Chances are that the cheap enemies will knock them from you anyway.
Controls and Moves: C
In the intro it says Billy and Jimmy Lee were on a quest to "complete their martial arts." Well, what the heck were they doing? Munching down on triple cheeseburgers and gulping down cherry soda Slurpees? A game ago, they had at least four times the moves they do now. Basically, all they can do is punch, kick and jump kick. Granted, there's a new dash attack, but enemies can easily counter it, leaving your character on his back. There are other moves ("tricks" as the game calls them), like the old spin kicks, but you have buy them. Granted, this is all bad, but it's exactly like the arcade game, so bad game play makes for a good port. On the plus side, the control is a little better. Whereas Billy and Jimmy Lee moved likes snails with arthritis in the arcade, they move more like snails on skateboards now. Controls seem a bit more responsive, although the cheap AI still makes things unfair.
Not much in the way of variety here. You can start a one or two-player game, although the arcade's three-player mode is gone. You can also choose who the start players will be, from the Double Dragons to the wrestlers (Sunny and Roney) to the martial arts guys (Seimei and Taimei). The shop allows you to "buy" other characters to take over when you lose a life, just like the arcade. Again, not much variety, but an improvement over the arcade.
Double Dragon 3 for the Genesis is a great port of a bad game. The game
is as good, if not better in most respects than its arcade brother, but the truth
is this isn't saying much at all. More game play tweaks and an overhaul
of the annoying buy-in shop system would have made this game a lot better (and a
lot fairer to the gamer). In short, DD 3 for the Genesis is a good port from Flying Edge of a
bad game by Technos.