Multiplayergames’ Digital Dojo: Super Double Dragon

Welcome back to the Digital Dojo. This month we dive into another beta-’em-up with Super Double Dragon.  After three previous games on the NES, Super Double Dragon is the fourth console game in the Double Dragon series.  Developed in 1992 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, unlike it’s predecessors, Super Double Dragon was an original game for the console with no arcade template.  In Japan it was published by  Technos Japan Corp and known as Return of Double Dragon.  The game was brought to North America  by Tradewest.

This classic beat-’em-up  once again follows our hero martial artists, Billy and Jimmy, as they fight to destroy the Shadow Warriors.  By controlling these characters, we attempt to obtain this goal by fighting through seven stages; a casino, an airport, a martial arts gym, a fight atop a moving truck, a city slum, a forest, and the hideout of the boss.

The fighting in the game is adequate with an added guard button for blocking which, when correctly timed, allows you to grab enemies for follow-up attacks.  Another nice feature is that Billy and Jimmy use slightly different variations on moves, making it feel like they have their own preferences on how to fight.   The only fault in the fighting may be the lack of proper pivoting during some of the kicks, but the animations make it difficult to see for sure if that is the case.

With most beat-’em-ups, the game does not come straight out and declare a particular martial arts style for the protagonist. The same applies to Super Double Dragon, so I thought it would be fun to try and reason out what Billy and Jimmy use to fight the Shadow Warriors with from the game play, and there are a few hints to indicate Tae Kwon Do.

To start, Billy and Jimmy are equipped with more types of kicks than upper body attacks, and Tae Kwon Do is a style heavily based on kicks.  One could argue the reliance on kicking could also be do to the fact that kicks are a great way to defend against an incoming attacker. Kicking range is the first someone enters upon approaching you, in which you can actually strike them.  Before that range you only have visual or verbal range where you should be telling the person to back up and show them you do not want any trouble by putting your hands up.  Inside kicking range you have punching and grappling ranges.

So while all the kicking does make sense from that stand point, I can’t believe it’s there for the reality aspect because the kicks often aim high.  In self-defense situations, you should never really kick above your waist so you can avoid shifting your balance in a vulnerable way. However, many traditional styles still focus on high kicks, Tae Kwon Do being one of them.

Another clue to indicate Tae Kwon Do is the chamber for the side kick.  In the game, when Billy or Jimmy get ready to throw this kick they lift their legs so they are perpendicular to the ground from the knee down.  Other styles such as American Kenpo emphasize a parallel leg position to the ground in order to keep a straight line between you and your attacker, and provide a better stomping motion for power.

While other styles may use that type of chamber for the side kick as well, we can also take into account Tae Kwon Do’s popularity during the time this game was made.  During the mid to late 80’s and into the mid 90’s, Tae Kwon Do’s reputation soared.  Even today it is still one of the most well known styles.   With these hints and the fact the game was made in 1992 (right in Tae Kwon Do’s uber-popular time-frame) it’s a pretty safe bet to say the programmers based Billy’s and Jimmy’s fighting on this traditional style.

Here ends the lesson.