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Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones

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Title Screen

Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones

Also known as: Double Dragon III: The Rosetta Stone (JP)
Developer: Technos Japan
Publishers: Acclaim Entertainment (US/EU/AU), Technos Japan (JP)
Platform: NES
Released in JP: February 22, 1991
Released in US: February 1991
Released in EU: 1991
Released in AU: 1994


GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
TextIcon.png This game has unused text.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.


ProtoIcon.png This game has a prototype article
PrereleaseIcon.png This game has a prerelease article

Billy Bimmy and Jimmy Lee reunite and team up with a ninja and a kung-fu master to hunt down mysterious stones that will unlock a deadly foe who may or may not be one of their girlfriends.

Debug Features

There is a common debug feature in a couple of Technos games. Usually all debug code is controlled by a memory flag, hardwritten at the end of the ROM at address $FFF6 in M6502 CPU address space. Various bits of this variable enable or disable various debug features.

Sample Version

Bit 7 of the debug variable (to set it, use the Game Genie code EKNYVYAA) switches between normal and "SAMPLE VERSION", which enables some debug features. In the Japanese version, all of these features except the first one were disabled with the code patch. You can restore full functionality with the additional Game Genie code XVNXAPAV. In the US version all options are available by default, but you must enable debug mode first with a button code: at the "Technos" logo screen hold B + Left + Down and wait until the license screen appears.

Now, during the game hold Start on Controller 1, press any of the following buttons to get corresponding effects, then release Start and unpause the game to apply changes.

  • A - Skip to the next level up to the ending sequence in the Japanese version, but no further than last boss in the English version.
  • B - Makes all the characters playable at any point of the game. However, it doesn't update the selection screen properly, so it leaves the other character portraits invisible.
  • Up / Down - Instantly eliminate the first and second enemies accordingly.
  • Left / Right - Set the health bar to its maximum and minimum accordingly.

Free Walk

Bit 5 of the debug variable (to set it, use the Game Genie code AXNYVYAA) enables free walk mode, which allows you to walk to any part of the level instantly.

Unused Text

Unused Ending Screen

Double Dragon III - The Sacred Stones-cutscene.png

An unused portion of the ending that was leftover from a prototype version (which featured a different script) still remains in the finalized English version with corresponding tilemap data. This screen is still used in the Japanese version with localized text.

HUD Text

BILLY   
JIMMY   
CHIN    
RANZOU  
HIRUKO  

The text strings for the character names used on the HUD are all located at offset 0x11BA8 of the English ROM and offset 0x11B8A of the Japanese ROM. Each name is 8 characters long, including the spaces from one name to the next. These names are all used, except Hiruko's, which suggests she might had been planned to be playable at one point.

BARE HANDS 
IRON CLAW  
NUNCHUCKS  
ARMY KNIFE 
BOTTLE     
SHURIKEN   
           
KNIFE      
HAND SPEAR 
SAI        
NINJA BLADE

The text strings for weapons are located at offset 0x11DE5 of the English ROM and offset 0x11DC7 of the Japanese ROM. All of these can used by the player except for the "KNIFE" and HAND SPEAR", which are weapons that are used exclusively by enemy characters. The "KNIFE" refers to the blue knives thrown by the female enemies in the first two stages (as opposed to the "ARMY KNIFE", which can be obtained from some of the bald enemies that appear throughout the game), while the "HAND SPEAR" refers to the knives thrown by the Italian enemies in the later stages. The text strings for each weapon are 11 characters long (including the spaces from one name to the next). Curiously there's a 14-character blank between "SHURIKEN" and "KNIFE", which suggests that there was another weapon listed between those two at some point that ended up being removed.

Note that it's actually possible to get a blue knife or hand spear (as well as the shurikens thrown by enemy ninjas) dropped to the ground if you intercept the thrown blade with a standing kick, but they cannot be picked up no matter what you do and they will eventually disappear from the ground after a while.

Unused Graphics

DD3NES Tradewest logo.png
Tradewest, the company who published the first Double Dragon game on the NES in North America, was in negotiations for the rights to this game before it was transferred over to Acclaim. However, their logo is still present in the Japanese ROM.
DD3NES ATI logo.PNG
The American Technos Inc. logo is also present in all versions, but unused in any of them. Perhaps at some point during development Technos Japan Corp. was considering letting their U.S. subsidiary handle the publishing of the game instead of relying on another company.
Dd3nes ranzou climbing.PNG
All four playable characters have a ladder climbing animation, but since the only ladder in the entire game is found in the second area of Mission 3, where Ranzou is fought afterward as the boss, his animation is never seen during a normal playthrough. It can still be seen if the player uses a cheat code to have Ranzou in their party before clearing Mission 3.
Too racy for Nintendo?
A Venus de Milo-like statue of a topless woman is stored among the background tiles used for the second area of Mission 4, which is set inside a Roman coliseum.
I've fallen...and it's a stupid meme waiting to happen.
Unused sprites of Hiruko being stunned and knocked over, which were probably intended for a boss fight against her similar to the one in the coin-op version. In its lieu, she ends up getting killed by a curse before the final room, during which she falls forward and disintegrates.
DD3NES Lee Brothers profile shot.PNG
Profile shot of the Lee brothers standing back-to-back stored among the ending graphics. Presumably meant to be used during the end credits.
Used Unused
DD3NES Chin Seimei bg.png DD3NES Chin Seimei spr.png

The character selection screen uses sprites to display the portraits. Since each portrait consists of 16 8x8 tiles, there are a total of four portraits that can be displayed on-screen (one for each playable character). But the screen actually uses five, since Hiruko joins the player's party for the final stage. As a result, one portrait is always drawn by the background tiles as a special case - it's Chin Seimei's. Its tiles are stored among the font graphics. But a different tile set for Chin's portrait is also stored among the other portraits, obviously unused. It appears to be a more carefully polished version of the portrait compared to the one in background tiles (note the area around the ear and collar). They likely polished the unused portrait and forgot to fix the one that was actually used.

Regional Differences

The English version was developed first and was originally planned to be published by Tradewest (who published the first NES Double Dragon) with a very different script. Somewhere along the lines, Acclaim (who published the second NES game) bought the rights to the English version, changed the game's title slightly and completely rewrote the script for the retail version (a comparison between the prototype and final English version can be seen here). Developer Technos would go on to make further adjustments to the Japanese version that were not added to the finalized English version.

Title

English Japanese
Double Dragon III - The Sacred Stones (U) -!--0.png Dd3fc title screen.png

The Japanese version keeps "The Rosetta Stone" subtitle used in the English prototype (and also in the Arcade game) and updates the copyrights date to 1991 (reflecting its actual release date).

Script

The English version alters the premise a bit so that the game now revolves around the rescue of Billy's girlfriend Marian (whose name is spelled "Marion" in this game) once again, perhaps done so in an attempt to give the Lee brothers a stronger motivation for helping Hiruko out. Consequently the identity of the final boss was changed from a resurrected Cleopatra to Princess Noiram, who is described in the ending to be Marion possessed by an evil spirit (hence the backwards name). Despite this the actual Marion never appears as her normal self in any version.

The Japanese version also has additional encounters with Hiruko at the end of Missions 2 and 4, whereas in the English version she only appears at the end of Missions 1 and 3 and during the last few rooms of Mission 5. The Japanese version also changes the order in which the third stone is obtained (and by proxy, the moment in which she joins the player's party and her portrait is added to the Player Select sub-screen).

(Source: Comparison of Double Dragon III (NES) Jap. and Eng. Stories)

Opening

English Japanese Translation
Dd3nes opening billy.png Dd3fc opening billy.png Billy went on a journey
to refine the Sousetsuken
style.
Dd3nes opening hiruko1.png Dd3fc opening hiruko1.png Two years later, the Sousetsuken
style has been perfected.
While on the way home,
a fortune teller named Hiruko
appeared.
Dd3nes opening hiruko2.png Dd3fc opening hiruko2.png To become the world's strongest heroes,
you must unravel the riddle in Egypt.
You'll need the three Rosetta Stones.
Dd3nes opening hiruko3.png Dd3fc opening hiruko3.png However, no one has
ever come back alive.
Hee hee hee...

Sousetsuken (双截拳), which roughly means "Twin Interception Fist", is the fictional martial arts style practiced by the Lee brothers, which was partially named and modeled after Bruce Lee's own style of Jeet Kune Do (截拳道, the Way of the Intercepting Fist).

English Japanese Translation
Dd3nes opening lee brothers.png Dd3fc opening lee brothers.png Billy and Jimmy went on a journey
to refine the Sousetsuken style.

In both versions, the 2-player mode changes the first screen of the opening in order to show both Lee brothers. For better or worse, the Japanese version doesn't have the Bimmy typo that has since become a meme among western players.

Mission 1

English Japanese Translation
BRETT:LISTEN! I TRIED TO
STOP THEM BUT THEY WERE
TOO POWERFUL FOR ME.
アルド
"せんせい… どうじょうが……
ネオ・ブラック・ウォリヤーズに…"
Sensei... The dojo was attacked....
By the Neo Black Warriors...
THEY'RE GREAT FIGHTERS, BUT
THE ONE YOU MUST FEAR THE
MOST IS...
アルド
"ボスのジムは、やつらを つかって
このまちを しはいするつもり…"
Their boss Jim intends to
take over the city with them...

The Black Warriors were the enemy gang in the first game. Despite the similar name, the Shadow Warriors in the second NES game (mentioned earlier in the English version) were a separate enemy faction known as the Gensatsuken (幻殺拳) in the Japanese version (despite the fact that both games share most of the same enemy characters).

The name of the wounded student in the first area was changed from Aldo to Brett. The Japanese version makes it clear who killed him from the start, whereas in the English version he dies before he can identify his killer, setting up a mystery for the rest of the game.

English Japanese Translation
HIRUKO:I'M SORRY ABOUT YOUR
YOUR FRIEND BRETT. WE MUST WORK
TOGETHER TO AVENGE HIM AND
ひるこ
"ジムは 3ねんまえに たおした
ウイリーのあに なのじゃ。"
Jim was the older brother of Willy,
whom you defeated three years ago.
RESCUE MARION.
HURRY! WE MUST GO BEFORE
IT IS TOO LATE.
ひるこ
"しかし、 ほんとうの たたかいは
これからに なろうて…"
However, the true battle
is about to begin.
WE HAVE A LONG JOURNEY.
I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT THE
FIRST STONE IS IN CHINA.
ひるこ
"ちゅうごくに ロセッタ・ストーンをもつ
おとこが おる。 いきなされ!"
A man in China is in possession
of a Rosetta Stone. Hurry!

Willy was the machine gun-toting antagonist of the original Double Dragon. Jim's name, along with his relation to Willy, are left unmentioned in the English localization and the game simply treats him as just a bad guy that must be dealt with.

Mission 2

English Japanese Translation
CHIN:I HAVE WAITED FOR THIS
THIS MOMENT FOR A LONG TIME
LEE BROTHERS
チン
"ダブル・ドラゴンよ、ついに きたか!"
You're finally here,
Double Dragons!
WHAT'S WRONG? DON'T YOU
REMEMBER ME? I'LL REMIND
YOU... BEFORE I DESTROY YOU.
チン
"わしのなは、チン・セイメイ!"
My name is Chin Seimei!
YOU KILLED MY BROTHER IN
YOUR BATTLE WITH THE
SHADOW WARRIORS.
チン
"あにのチン・タイメイは
そうせつけんの まえに たおれた。"
My older brother Chin Taimei
felled before your Sousetsuken style.
NOW GET READY TO FEEL THE
FORCE OF MY REVENGE.
MY KUNG FU IS WITHOUT EQUAL.
チン
"しかし、わしが モウコ・ガザンケンの
おうぎを みせてやろう。"
But now I will show you
the secret technique of my
Mouko Gazanken style.

Chin Taimei was an enemy character featured in both of the previous NES Double Dragon games. His name was omitted in the English script, likely due to the fact that Acclaim localized the second NES game but not the first and they probably felt that most players might not recognize the name, since the English manual for the second NES game left out the enemy character descriptions present in the Japanese manual.

Mouko Gazanken (猛虎雅山拳), is a fictional martial art style which roughly translates to "Fierce Tiger Splendid Mountain Fist".

English Japanese Translation
CHIN:I AM BEATEN! YOU ARE
THE GREATEST MARTIAL ARTISTS
IN THE WORLD.
チン
"わしの けんぽうを やぶるとは…
ロセッタ・ストーンは もっていけ。"
You've overcame my style...
You can take the Rosetta Stone with you.
HERE IS THE FIRST STONE.
PLEASE ALLOW ME TO JOIN YOU
ON YOUR TRIP TO JAPAN.
チン
"だが、わしを つれていけ! もういっかい
たたかうまえに しなれては こまるからな。"
But I'm coming along too. I'm mustn't
let you die before our rematch.
Japanese Translation
ひるこ
"1つめの ロセッタ・ストーンを てに
いれたか。 では、にほんに いくとよい。
So you got the first Rosetta Stone?
Then we must go to Japan.

In the Japanese version Hiruko appears after Chin is defeated in order to tell the Lee brothers the whereabouts of the second stone, rather than having Chin himself reveal this information.

Mission 3

English Japanese Translation
RANZOU:WELCOME DOUBLE
DRAGONS. YOU MAY HAVE
GOTTEN PAST MY MEN....
らんぞう
"せっしゃの でしを たおしてくるとは
おぬし、なにものだ!?"
Who is the one that has dared to
come here and beat my disciples!?
BUT THEY FIGHT LIKE CHILDREN
COMPARED TO ME. MY NINPOU IS
UNBEATABLE.
らんぞう
"なを なのらねば きりすてて、
かたなの サビに してくれる!"
If you do not identify yourself,
I will cut you down and turn
you into the rust of my blade!
English Japanese Translation
RANZOU:I AM DISGRACED.
I HAVE TASTED DEFEAT
FOR THE FIRST TIME.
らんぞう
"いしは、おわたし することに しよう。
せっしゃ まだまだ みじゅくもの ゆえ"
I shall hand over the stone to you.
I'm still immature.
YOU'VE EARNED THE SECOND
STONE AND ALSO MY RESPECT.
MAY I JOIN YOU?
らんぞう
"せっしゃも つれていって もらえぬか?
おねがい つかまる!"
Would you mind joining you?
I beg of you!
English Japanese Translation
HIRUKO:IT CAN NOW BE TOLD.
I HAVE ALWAYS HAD THE THIRD
STONE.
ひるこ
"ロセッタ・ストーンを 2つも あつめるとは
わしの みこんだ とおりじゃ。"
I'm impressed that you've
already acquired two stones.
WE MUST NOW TRAVEL TO
EGYPT TO FREE MARION.
ひるこ
"エジプトのなぞを とく てがかりは
ローマに あるそうじゃ。"
It seems there's a clue in Rome
that will unravel the mystery in Egypt.
BUT BEFORE WE DO, WE MUST
SPEND TIME IN ITALY,
PRACTISING FOR THE BIG BATTLE.

The second and third stones are obtained at the same time after completing Mission 3 in the English version, whereas in the Japanese version Hiruko holds on to her stone until completing Mission 4. The Japanese version also gives a different motive for having the heroes travel to Italy, as revealed during the additional conversation with Hiruko added to the end of that stage.

Mission 4

Japanese Translation
ひるこ
"やつが、ピラミッドの ちずを もっておた。
ストーンの のこりの 1つは…"
That man was in possession of
the map to the pyramid.
As for the remaining stone...
ひるこ
"じつは… わしが もっておっのじゃ。
よし、 わたしも なかまに なってやろう。"
The truth is...
I had it with me all this time.
I will now join you.
ひるこ
"ピラミッドの とびらは わしにしか
あけられない からのう。 ヒッ ヒッ ヒッ"
You cannot open the door
to the pyramid without me.
Hee hee hee.

Mission 5

English Japanese Translation
HIRUKO:MARION IS BEING HELD
BEHIND THAT DOOR. I MUST PUT
THE STONES IN PLACE.
ひるこ
"4つめの ロセッタ・ストーンが
このおくに かくされて おる。"
The fourth Rosetta Stone is
hidden behind that door.
THEY WILL OPEN THE DOOR AND
ALLOW YOU TO FREE HER.
ひるこ
"それを てに いれないと わしらの
くろうは むだに なってしまう!"
If we don't get it then our
efforts will be in vain!
THERE IS LITTLE TIME TO LOSE.
LET US ENTER THE ROOM
QUICKLY.
ひるこ
"さぁ、がんばってきて おくれ!"
Go and good luck!
English Japanese Translation
HIRUKO:I LIED TO YOU! YOUR
FRIEND BRETT TRIED TO WARN
YOU, BUT I SILENCED HIM.
ひるこ
"わしに だまされて たたかわされるとは、
おぬしら どうしようもない バカ よのう。"
I couldn't help but to trick you
gullible idiots into
fighting for me.
I HAVE THREE SACRED STONES
OF POWER, I MUST GET THE
FOURTH TO CONTROL THE WORLD.
ひるこ
"バカな おぬしらに たすけられて
ずいぶんと らくなたびに  なったわい。"
This was a pleasant trip
thanks to you fools.
ひるこ
"ここに ねむる クレオパトラのざいほうは、
ぜんぶ わしの ものさ。 ヒッ ヒッ ヒッ"
Now the treasures of Cleopatra,
who rests here, will
be all mine. Hee hee hee.

The English version allows the player to enter the final room before Hiruko falls into the floor and disintegrates, whereas in the Japanese version the player does not regain control of their character until Hiruko gives the following last line of dialogue and then dies.

Japanese Translation
ひるこ
"そ、そんな… ばかな…
わしのざいほう……"
It... can't be...
My treasure...

The English version instead has this additional screen of text explaining Hiruko's cause of death, which does not exists in the Japanese version.

English
BUT HIRUKO DIDN'T KNOW THE
ENTIRE LEGEND OF THE SACRED
STONES OF POWER. IT SAYS:
"SHE WHO ENTERS THE TOMB
CARRYING LESS THAN ALL FOUR
STONES WILL BE TURNED TO
DUST." YOU SEE, IN HER HASTE
TO OBTAIN POWER, HIRUKO
MADE A MISTAKE THAT COST
HER HER LIFE.

Ending

English Japanese Translation
Dd3nes ending pyramid.png Dd3fc ending pyramid.png Our heroes decided to use Cleopatra's
treasure to help impoverished
children around the world.
Dd3nes ending billy.png Dd3fc ending billy.png Billy Lee
With his older brother Jimmy,
he continues to spread the teachings of
Sousetsuken to students around the world.
Dd3nes ending chin.png Dd3fc ending chin.png Chin Seimei
Returned to his homeland China
to train in Shorinji Kempo.
Dd3nes ending ranzou.png Dd3fc ending ranzou.png Yagyu Ranzou
Returned to Japan to challenge
his old rivals, the Koga Ninjas.
Dd3nes ending jimmy.png Dd3fc ending jimmy.png Jimmy Lee
With his younger brother Billy,
he continues to spread the teachings of
Sousetsuken to students around the world.
Dd3nes ending hiruko.png Dd3fc ending stones.png When the three Rosetta Stones are united,
their great power will change the world...

Other Differences

English Japanese
Dd3NES player select.png Dd3fc player select.png
  • The health for every player character was increased by 10 points each in the Japanese version.
  • The number of enemies that the player must defeat to clear each area is slightly greater in the English version. This applies even in 2-players mode, which increases the number of enemies a bit in order to take into account the presence of a second player.
English Japanese
Dd3nes chin defeated.png Dd3fc Chin defeated.png
  • In the English version, when Chin and Ranzou are defeated, their bodies disappear before they give their concession speech. In the Japanese version, they remain on-screen and only disappear after giving it.
  • After Hiruko dies before the final battle in Mission 5, her portrait gets removed from the character selection screen in the Japanese version, rather than remaining in place like in the English version.
  • The ending is fixed in the English version, whereas in the Japanese version it varies depending on which characters are still alive after defeating the final boss. For example, if Ranzou was the only surviving character after defeating the final boss, then only Ranzou's epilogue will be shown. This also means that in order to see Jimmy's epilogue in the Japanese version, the game must not only be played in 2-players mode, but both players need to keep Jimmy alive until the end (although there's also a trick that allows a single player to have both Lee brothers in their party and switch between them like the other characters).