Double Dragon NES Review

by | NES

Double Dragon 1 NES was an 8-bit video game released back in 1991, and has since become a cult classic. The NES video game features two characters who fight each other using martial arts moves. In fact, this game shows off some of the coolest moves from the game.

Double Dragon NES is a side-scrolling beat ’em up developed by Technos Japan and published by Capcom. The game was originally released for the NES in 1989. But before then, it was an arcade original released in 1987.

Keep reading to learn more about this game in our double dragon review.

Game Story

The story follows two martial arts masters, Jimmy and Billy Lee, who are tasked with rescuing Billy’s girlfriend Marian from the nefarious Shadow Warriors gang. Along their journey, they will have to face many challenges, as well as numerous enemies on screen, including bosses that must be fought.


Players control both characters simultaneously throughout the entire video game. They can move left or right on the screen while attacking an enemy. Players also have access to special attacks such as fireballs, lightning bolts, and even a flying kick. Both players start out with three lives which deplete.

Main Characters

Jimmy and Billy Lee are two iconic martial artists who first appeared in the cult classic video game Double Dragon more than three decades ago. As members of the Lee brothers’ private investigation team, the pair eventually struggle to rescue a kidnapped girl from an evil gang leader named Willy.

Though their background stories remain somewhat mysterious, what stands out about Jimmy and Billy is their unique fighting styles. While Billy typically prefers to take on adversaries straight-on with standard martial arts moves, Jimmy has a reputation for utilizing creative ambushes and employing his Tommy gun if he needs to. No matter which moves these martial artists choose to pull off, their trademark determination gives them an edge in any fight.

In fact, you’ll see them in action again in Double Dragon 2: The Revenge Review.

Unique Weapons

Weapons provide a variety of means to fight your enemies. You may use baseball bats, crackers, knives, dynamites, etc. These weapons can also be used by the enemies as well, sometimes resulting in a race to pick them up in an attempt to gain an advantage. Likewise, the Black Warriors can throw rocks, oil barrels, etc., which can be useful for attacks at long range.

Game Levels

Compared to the original arcade game, the levels are arranged differently, and there are now only 4 of them. The four levels each have a time limit so the player needs to quickly dispatch foes and the bosses at the end of each level to proceed. Technically each level is called a ‘mission’ and the four missions take place on a street, construction site, forest, and finally the Black Warriors base.

Gameplay and Music

There are no simultaneous two-player modes like the arcade version, instead, you have to take turns playing. The characters are large enough for the player to view and the music is solid enough to get the job done. Controls are a bit sluggish which can add another layer of challenge to the game.


There are four bosses at the end of each of the stages that the player has to defeat in order to progress. Abobo, Chintai, multiple Lindas, and finally Willy. There is a secret last boss but the player has to finish Willy off to face them.

Defeating Bosses

All four bosses require a different approach to defeat them. Abobo the first boss requires the player to get pretty familiar with jump kicks since fighting him straight up usually will result in the player’s loss.

The second boss Chintai is fast but if the player has enough experience points to earn the hair grab to toss Chintai off the building this fight will end quickly.

Fighting the 8 Linda’s in the third stage boss fight is possible with jump kicking to get close and utilizing your grabs and throws to defeat them.

In the last boss battle against Willy, you cannot allow him to shoot you with his gun, yes the final boss has a gun. The player must move up and down to avoid getting shot which takes off enormous amounts of health.

Beating this boss requires a similar strategy of grabbing and attacking but also using kicks to get in close enough to do so.


Double Dragon 1 on the NES can be fun for those who enjoy these types of games which are old-school, side-scrolling brawlers of the 80s. The jumping sections can be tough and the fighting is slow pace but this game is challenging.

Retro gamers who enjoy the simplistic challenge this solid game provides might end this title. There were various sequels on pretty much every system which include the Game Boy, Sega Genesis, and PC. This is a classic bar-setting game NES game that does provide a chance to see how the Double Dragon franchise started out and evolved over time by playing the original game.

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