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
Graphic tiles for an early version of the character select screen that was implemented in the later-released Japanese version can be found in the U.S. version, revealing the original plans for the character roster. As seen on the recreation on the left, the roster originally consisted of Billy and Jimmy Lee (top left and top right respectively) from the previous games, plus three unique new fighters: Roney Urquidez (center), Chin Seimei (lower left) and Masahiko Oyama (lower right). In the finalized versions of the game this idea evolved into four groups of palette-swapped siblings (Lee Brothers, Chin Brothers, Urquidez Brothers, Oyama Brothers) in order to allow multiple players to control the same character type. As result, the fifth portrait for Jimmy went unused in the finalized character select screen (see right screenshot), since Billy's portrait is used to represent both Lee Brothers (plus Sonny in 3-players mode, a third sibling who didn't exist in previous games) as a group.
The unique "Select Player" banner on the top of the screen also went unused in favor of having the words spelled using a standard font set. The Japanese writing used to spell each character's full name are partially used (albeit, loaded from a separate tile set) alongside a pair of Kyoudai/兄弟 tiles (the kanji characters for brothers) that are loaded as sprite layers rather than as background tiles like the rest of the characters. 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 spelled out Billy Lee (ビリー・リー).
There are also tiles for unused 1P and 2P cursors that are more detailed than the finalized version. Inexplicably, the color coding is reversed from the usual pattern of having Player 1 as blue and Player 2 as red (the palette data is shared for both unused cursors). There is no 3P cursor in this set, which seems to suggest that these were likely made before the decision to add 3-players support to the game.
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.|
If the game ever crashes, it'll display this exception handler.
Present at 0x100 in the main CPU are some hidden developer credits.
**************************************************************** * SYSTEM MAIN PROGRAM << SYSTEM.S >> * *Designed: N.takioka 1990-06-15 * *Coded : N.takioka 1990-06-15 * *Copyright(C) 1990 Technos Japan Corp. All rights reserved * ****************************************************************
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.