Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone (Arcade)
|Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone|
This game has a prerelease article
Billy and Jimmy Lee's third arcade outing, in which they are joined by their long-lost sibling Sonny (wouldn't that make them the Triple Dragons then?).
Its biggest innovation was the introduction of item shops where players could gain access to new characters, moves and weapons...by putting even more quarters into the machine, basically microtransactions years before microtransactions were a thing. Technos realized that such a feature probably wasn't such a good idea after all and ended up removing it for the later-released Japanese version.
Character Select Screen
The character select screen added in the Japanese version was planned to be a bit different, as seen in the reconstruction on the left. Originally Billy (top left) and Jimmy Lee (top right) would've been separate characters joined by three unique fighters: Roney Urquidez (center), Chin Seimei (bottom left) and Masahiko Oyama (bottom right). Remnants of this idea can be seen on the Japanese promotional art and in the ending visual, which both depict the heroes as a team of five.
In the final Japanese version, the idea of individual playable characters was abandoned in favor of having the characters grouped as teams of siblings in order to allow multiple players control the same character type (hence the addition of palette-swapped siblings for each character). The choices, as seen on the right screenshot, are clockwise from the top left: Lee Brothers, Urquidez Brothers, Oyama Brothers and Chin Brothers. As a result, Jimmy's portrait went unused, since Billy's was chosen to represent the Lee Brothers as a group and Urquidez's portrait was moved to where Jimmy's used to be.
The unique "Select Player" banner also went unused in favor of having it written with a font set (the same one used for the world map to write the name of each stage, as well as the "game over" text when the player loses) and the kyoudai (兄弟) kanji next to each character's surname are loaded as sprite layers instead of actually being part of the background layer like the rest of the screen. Incidentally, the Japanese text used for the character names are actually taken from a different tile set from the unused versions (which were shared with the white frames that surround each character's portrait). If you look closely at the Japanese text for the Lee Brothers (リー兄弟), you can see half of the interpunct from back when the text originally said Billy Lee (ビリー・リー).
The selection cursors were also planned to be different as well. The unused cursors have unique 1P and 2P icons instead of being the same ones that appear above each player character's head when the game starts. No 3P cursor exists in this set, so these were likely made before the decision to add 3-player support.
A set of data for each fighter, likely intended for a demo sequence of sorts. It consists of the name of each character, a one-line description, their height and weight, and the name of their signature move (each written in kanji with furigana underneath). Most of this information can be seen on the Japanese version's instruction card and flyer, but since Billy and Jimmy were planned to be separate characters, their data, including signature moves, differ from each other. The alternate names in parentheses for each move are the localized names that were used on the US version's cabinet.
|Name||Billy Lee||Jimmy Lee||Roney Urquidez||Chin Seimei||Oyama Masahiko|
|Description||Successor to Sousetsuken||Billy's older brother||World's Martial Arts Champion||Expert of Tai Chi||Instructor of Seishin Karate|
|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)
Billy and Jimmy's martial arts school, the Sou-Setsu-Ken Dojo, was planned to appear in the game, likely as the starting point of the very first stage, since the building for the weapons shop can be seen next to it. While the area was cut, the background tiles are still present in the data.
A "stone" indicator can also be seen here and other pre-release screenshots, likely intended to show the number of Rosetta Stones that the player have collected. It was replaced by a timer in the final version, but the graphics for it was kept in the tiles for the HUD.
Various frames of one of the Rosetta Stones rotated in different angles. This set of tiles are stored among the graphics used for fonts and HUD. The second tile 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.
These unused graphics are specific to the Japanese version. Unlike the English version, which uses a font set to compose every message in the game, all the messages were written directly into the graphic tiles, likely in order to get around having to draw a whole new font set for a game with minimal dialogue. Almost everything is used, except for the following three messages.
|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.|
The biggest difference between the US and Japanese versions are the presence of item shops in the former. The US version features an item shop at the start of the first three stages and an additional fourth one in the middle of Mission 5. In these shops, the player can obtain all sorts of powerups by using more credits. Since these item shops are inaccessible in the Japanese version, the game was adjusted accordingly to accommodate their removal.
- The US version only allows the player to start the game as one of the Lee brothers (Billy, Jimmy, or Sonny). The other character types (the Urquidez, Chin, and Oyama brothers) must be unlocked by purchasing the "extra guys" option from the item shops and each one can only be obtained from a specific stage (for example, the reserved fighter the player will get from the first stage will be an Urquidez brother), meaning that not all the character types can be used until the third stage. The new character will then appear when the current one dies (up to three fighters can be stock-up in reserve), but the player will default back to the Lee brother character if they run out of reserve fighters and use a credit to continue. The Japanese version allows the player to start the game as any character type and even change to another one when continuing.
- The hurricane kick and jumping throw can only be performed in the US version by purchasing "tricks" from the item shop. While these two techniques are transferred over from the player's current character to the next reserved fighter, the player will lose the ability to use them once all the reserved fighters have been lost, forcing them to purchase the "tricks" item again to unlock these moves. In the Japanese version both techniques are available by default but the input method for the hurricane kick was made trickier to pull off, requiring the player to push jump and then kick in very quick succession.
- Weapons can be purchased in the US version from Mission 2 and onward while controlling a Lee brother, with the available options being a nunchaku in Mission 2 and a sword in Missions 3 and 5. In the Japanese version, weapons are instead found lying around in certain areas and the nunchaku can be obtained as early as the first area of Mission 1.
The game starts in front of the very first item shop in the US version. In the Japanese version, this portion of the area was cut and the starting point was moved to the front of the Power Records building that follows it, resulting in a smaller playing field.
The pitfall and conveyor belt in the second area of the first stage are absent in the Japanese version, leaving an unusual blank space at the bottom of the area.
The item shops in the backgrounds of the later stages are still present, but they're no longer accessible, making them purely decorative.
- The strength of enemy attacks are 50% greater in the US version (e.g. an attack that does 8 points of the damage in the Japanese version, does 12 in the US version).
- The player starts each stage with temporary invincibility in the Japanese version.