When you think about Double Dragon, its plot is probably the last thing on your mind. However, underneath all the knuckle-busting, bone-snapping, hair-yanking violence of the original co-op beat 'em up there is one of the greatest twist endings in gaming history. And, it still hits you like a sucker-punch to this day!
A Vicious Gangster Kidnaps Your Girl!
So, the first time you played Double Dragon it's all pretty standard action fare. Billy and Jimmy Lee are martial arts experts, who use their abilities to impose vigilante justice against local street gangs. But one day, the Black Warrior gang decides to put the Lees in their place by kidnapping Billy's girlfriend, Marian. They just walk right up to her, in broad daylight, sock her in the gut, and drag her off to to their villainous lair. It's a brutal scene, and it provides more than enough motivation to make you hungry for justice.
You'd Think He's the Final Boss, Right?
So, what did you do? Well, if you wanted to take down the Black Warrior gang's army of thugs, you knew you'd need all the help you could get. And since this game had an awesome, new 2-player mode, it only made sense to draft a friend to be your wingman as you tackled every obstacle Double Dragon threw at you. Co-op mode made you brothers in arms, as you lead the brothers Lee into battle. But through teamwork, and more than a little determination, both of you stormed the final dungeon to rescue Marian. After countless battles you found her bound, but unharmed in the throne room of the big bad himself. The first time you finally took out that assault rifle toting jerk, you were probably all set to high-five your partner in victory. But, that's when Double Dragon played it's trump card.
Psych! The Final Boss is Your Own Teammate!
Just when you thought you'd watch the credits roll as our heroes walked off into the sunset, these words flashed across the screen: "LETS FIGHT PLAYER 1 VS PLAYER 2." Before you or your friend could even begin to register what was happening, Billy and Jimmy moved of their own accord to opposite ends of the screen in preparation for the game's true finale. In a shocking reversal, your teammate became the end boss!
All's Fair in Love & War!
Victory probably depended on which of you managed to first pick your jaw off the ground, and ruthlessly charge into battle. But, in the end one of the Lees takes down his own brother and claims Marian for himself. It's one heck of a twist ending. This was never a tale about two bros helping each other out, it was a mad dash to rescue the woman who had turned brother against brother. From the moment the game began, Billy and Jimmy knew that only one of them would be coming back, but they never gave you that memo. All you could do was stare as your character either fell at the hands of his former ally or basked in the hollow victory that came from betraying your partner.
Buy Double Dragon - For the NES
Double Dragon may not have much in the way of story, but its last moments are still one of the biggest shocks ever put onto pixels. Were you a calloused monster who enjoyed every moment you spent twisting the knife on your compatriot? Or were you able to just enjoy the inclusion of a cool, last minute vs mode? What did Double Dragon's final battle mean to you? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.