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Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone

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Title Screen

Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone

Developer: East Technology
Publisher: Technos Japan
Platform: Arcade (The Combatribes hardware)
Released internationally: 1990


GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.


PrereleaseIcon.png This game has a prerelease article

In Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone, Billy and Jimmy take a break from fighting local punks in order to fight punks from around the world and re-enact scenes from the ending of The Last Crusade. In what could be seen as a transparent ploy to sucker players out of their hard-earned money, the American version of the game featured item shops where players can gain new techniques or play as additional characters by inserting more coins into the machine. It's a feature that was years ahead of its time for the wrong reasons.

Unused Graphics

Hmmm...
To do:
Find a way to restore the dojo building in the actual game.

Character Select Screen

Early Final
Dd3ac early select player screen.PNG Dd3ac player select.png

The left image is not a screenshot, but a reconstruction of an early version of the character select screen made from several unused titles that are present in both, the American and Japanese versions of the game starting at offset 1657. As it is the apparent from this reconstruction, the original character roster consisted of familiar heroes Billy and Jimmy Lee (upper left and right respectively) and three new fighters: "martial arts champion" Roney Urquidez (center), Tai Chi master Chin Seimei (lower left, shortened to Seime in the final game due to space constraints) and karate instructor Masahiko Ōyama (lower right, renamed Masao in the final game for the same reason). This is more consistent with the the Japanese promotional art, as well as the ending group shot, which both depict a team of five protagonists.

This character select feature was abandoned for the American version - instead the player starts the game as Billy or Jimmy and acquire the option to use other characters as extra men (in a literal sense) after their initial fighter dies through in-game transactions. To avoid character selection conflicts, Player 2 versions of the three new fighters were created as well. As a result, the original color choices intended for Seime (red outfit) and Roney (green hair and orange pants) were given to their Player 2 counterparts (Taime and Sunny), while the standard Player 1 versions of the characters were given predominantly blue color palettes to go along with the color coding of Billy and Jimmy. Likewise, Masao's Player 2 counterpart, Kunio (a name shared by Technos Japan's mascot), wears a red karate gi.

This character select screen was implemented in the later-released Japanese version, but it was done so in a rather haphazard matter. The characters are now presented as team of siblings (e.g. Lee Bros., Urquidez Bros., Ōyama Bros. and Chin Bros.) rather than as individual characters and thus, the number of portraits was reduced from five to four, with the Urquidez Bros. portrait moved to the upper right corner. The "Select Player" banner on top of the screen is not the same one that was intended to be used (the final version uses the same font type used for other text in the game such as the "game over" message and the "mission" screen at the start of each stage) and the selection cursors are colored in much simpler palettes than the ones planned for the early version (the 1P/2P/3P marks are the same one that appears above the player character's head when the game starts). The "brothers" or kyōdai (兄弟) kanji are loaded as sprites rather than as background tiles like the rest of the Japanese text and if you look closely at the Lee Bros./リー兄弟 tag, you can see the left half of a Japanese interpunct that was left over from when the tag originally said Billy Lee/ビリー・リー. The graphic tiles for the family names are not the same ones that were meant to be used either, as the tiles for the Japanese text in the early version were shared with the white frame that wraps around each character's portrait. The ones that are used are taken from another set of Japanese characters, as we'll see later.

Dd3ac Jimmy Lee portrait.PNG

Since it would've been redundant to have two portraits for the Lee Bros., Billy's portrait was the one chosen to represent the group, leaving Jimmy's portrait unused.

Dd3ac 1P 2P cursors.PNG

The original versions of the 1P and 2P selection cursors, which were only partially completed. The red and blue colors (which are inexplicably switched) are actually part of the same palette, so the whole cursors themselves (not just the 1P and 2P icon) are stored as separate tiles. There was no 3P cursor at this point as the 3-Player mode was a later addition during development, presumably made during the game's U.S. localization since 3-player cabinets were becoming more prevalent during that period. This would explain the sudden existence of Sonny, the yellow-clad Lee brother palette swap who serves as the default Player 3 character (alongside the Player 3 versions of all the other characters) and appears prominently alongside Billy and Jimmy on the American promotional art and marquee. The 3-player mode was not advertised at all in the Japanese flyer, as the game was sold as a conversion kit and 3-player cabinets were still a luxury in Japan at the time, although the Japanese version of the game does support 3-players.

Character Data

Dd3ac japanese character profiles.PNG

A set of Japanese text featuring data for each of the five fighters. Presumably this would've been for used the attract sequence or perhaps another discarded version of the character select screen. Some of the tiles (particularly the ones making up the names of the characters) were used for the finalized character select screen. The data displays the name of each character and a brief description, followed by their height, weight and special technique. The "special technique" refers to the overhead attack that a player performs by jumping over an enemy's head and pressing the punch button. They're given rather fancy-sounding and somewhat untranslatable names written in kanji, followed by a furigana reading underneath. While these techniques are never mentioned in-game in the American version, they're shown on the cabinet's bezel art, where they're given simple descriptive names.

The Japanese instruction card features this same data, but because Billy and Jimmy are no longer separately selectable characters, all of the information specific to Jimmy (most notably his special technique, which would've been different from Billy's) was omitted.

Name Billy Lee Jimmy Lee Roney Urquidez Chin Seimei Ōyama Masahiko
Description Successor to Sōsetsuken Billy's older brother World's Martial Arts Champion Expert of Tai Chi Instructor of Seishin Karate
Height 175cm 178cm 197cm 169cm 174cm
Weight 65kg 70kg 83kg 84kg 64kg
Special Technique Head-to-Tail Dragon God Fist
(One-Armed Head Butt)
Flying Dragon Drop Spin Solid Foot Dragon Tail Spin
(Handstand Ankle Flip)
Both Eye and Ear
(Locking Head Squeeze)
Tiger Rotating Mountain
(Overhead Collar Throw)

Dojo

Dd3ac dojo proto.PNG Dd3ac sousetsuken dojo.PNG Dd3ac karate poster.PNG Dd3ac punksnotdead.PNG

It seems that Mission 1 was originally going to start in front of Billy and Jimmy's martial arts school, the Sōsetsuken Dōjō, which appears to had been vandalized by the revived Black Warriors gang prior to the start of the game. Judging by the building that follows it, the dojo would've been located just before the Weapon Shop, which is the starting point of the level in the American version. While the dojo never appears in either of the final versions, its graphic tiles are still present in the game's data.

Stone

Dd3ac stone.png

Various frames of what is presumably a Rosetta Stone (unlike the NES version, the arcade game never properly establishes how they look like) rotated in various angles. This set of tiles are stored among the graphics used for fonts and HUD. The second frame is used in the second area of Mission 3, as the Ashura statue at the background can be seen holding a stone until it disappears after the boss is defeated.

Japanese Text

The text in the Japanese version, unlike the American version, consists entirely of pre-made graphical tiles.

Image Translation Notes
Dd3ac jpn shop text.PNG Power-ups can be gained by entering shops
and inserting more coins.
Each item costs only one coin.
Instructions on how to use item shops similar to the one used in the American version of the demo sequence (see below). This suggests that the item shops were going to be kept for the Japanese version at one point.
Dd3ac jpn intro text.PNG But beware, no one has ever come back alive. Eeh hee hee hee! This is the Japanese equivalent of Hiruko's last line in the American version's opening sequence. It was rewritten into something else for the released Japanese version.
Dd3ac unused rosetta message.png Step on the ROSETTA blocks in order! Instructions on how to solve the "ROSETTA" floor puzzle in the final stage. The hint used in the released version is a lot more cryptic.

Unused Music

ID# Track Notes
017
It is unknown where exactly this track was supposed to be played at, but it is located between the music used for Missions 5-3 and 5-4. A rendition of this track is played in Mission 5-3 in the NES version.

Regional Differences

The Japanese version was released after the American version and features the following changes.

  • As shown in the above comparison, a character select option was added in the Japanese version, allowing each player to choose their character type when starting the game or continuing. The American version has no such feature, instead forcing players to start the game as one of the Lee brothers (Billy, Jimmy or Sonny).
  • In the American version, players could enter item shops at the beginning of certain stages and unlock the other playable characters by using additional credits. Other items can be purchased in these shops such as weapons, additional moves, increased attack speed and 150% health recovery, with the selection varying between stages. These item shops were made inaccessible in the Japanese version as the in-game transactions were eliminated completely.
  • The two extra moves available by purchasing the "tricks" item in the American version, the hurricane kick and the overhead attack, are default moves in the Japanese version. However, the hurricane kick now requires more precise timing to pull off, since the player must press the jump and kick buttons in quick succession.
  • Since weapons are no longer purchasable in the Japanese version, the nunchaku and the sword instead found lying around on the ground in certain stages if the player is controlling a Lee brother (since only they can wield weapons). The nunchaku can obtained as early the first stage in the Japanese version, which wasn't possible in the American version.
  • The strength of enemy attacks were reduced by 1/3 in the Japanese version (i.e. a punch that does 12 points of damage in the American version will do only 8 points in the Japanese version).
  • The player starts each stage with temporary invincibility in the Japanese version.


Level Design Differences

U.S. Japan
Dd3ac weapon shop.png Dd3ac power records.png

The starting point of Mission 1 was changed from the Weapon Shop to the front of Power Records store. The area in front of the Weapon Shop is inaccessible in the Japanese version.

U.S. Japan
Dd3ac warehouse us.png Dd3ac warehouse jpn.png

The pitfall and conveyor belt in the warehouse at the end of Mission 1 were removed in the Japanese version.

U.S. Japan
Dd3ac china shop us.pngDd3ac shopping menu china.png Dd3ac china shop jpn.png

The item shops in the later stages are still present, but they're no longer accessible, making them purely decorative.