Return of Double Dragon is the Japanese version of Super Double Dragon for the SNES.
The Japanese version was actually released after the American one, and surprisingly includes a number of changes and differences, leading to my suspicion that the American release was rushed.
Return includes a few extra character animations and music tracks not featured in the American release. In the case of the music, several tracks are also assigned to different stages.
I had never played Return until I was in college, but thankfully I found that I wasn’t really missing much in terms of extra content.
Although it is fun being able to grab everyone by the hair.
I grew up playing Super Double Dragon across the street at my neighbor’s house.
Early on I was one of those kids who used to invite himself over, that is until their parents told me to start calling ahead.
Consequently, I regard calling my neighbor’s to see if they could “come out and play” as the first phone call I ever made on my own.
The game was crazy awesome, taking full advantage of the increased button count on the SNES controller.
I could jump with one button.
I could block (who the fuck does that?), with just one button.
Hell, I could do the fucking spin kick with just one fucking button!
I won’t get big headed and say I was “good” at Super Double Dragon, but I will say this: I felt like I was good at Super Double Dragon.
The game was undoubtedly an improvement on every game in the series that had come before it, (that’s right, FUCK Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones) with gameplay, sound and graphics that were top notch for the time, and yet something was missing from the experience…
I never owned Super Double Dragon, or Return of Double Dragon until much later in life, although I did borrow it once.
My brother and I made it to the final boss, (a rare feat in gaming for me back then) and just as soon as the battle got really heated, just as soon as the guy started busting out all sorts of spinning wheel kicks an other such bullshit, the game froze.
To this day, it’s the only instance I can recall of such a thing happening on the SNES.
When I bought Return of Double Dragon, I’m pretty sure I bought it not out of being nostalgic for the days and weeks I spent over at my neighbor’s house playing it, but for the half hour or so I spent playing it with my brother.
That being said,
The Best Track in the Game is…
Golden Gate Bridge Stage
Doesn’t this music just make you wanna’ go out and grab somebody by the hair and knee ’em in the face?
Okay, maybe that’s just me, but I always found this track to be a standout in the Return of Double Dragon soundtrack.
Just to clear things up a bit, though I refer to this as the Golden Gate Bridge theme, in Super Double Dragon, this track was actually used as the background music of the opening stage, Las Vegas.
In truth, I believe that this track is much better suited for the Las Vegas stage, as the pace more closely mirrors that of walking the streets, rather than careening down the Golden Gate Bridge atop a semi-truck.
Outside of the Title theme, (which also doubles as the Final Stage theme) this track was the first one I heard in the game.
The music is pulse-pounding and has a weightiness, a harshness to it that comes across as being very aggressive, perfectly appropriate given the main objective of the gameplay.
Though not head and shoulders above the competition in terms of overall quality, it’s this serious tone that makes the Golden Gate Bridge theme a standout amongst many of the more upbeat, and less memorable tracks in the Double Dragon series.
Slum theme, China Town theme
You know those upbeat tracks I just mentioned?
Well, the Slum theme is one of them, however it is by no means forgettable.
In fact the Slum theme was used way back in the original Double Dragon as the Opening Stage theme, though unlike some NES era tunes, it seriously benefited from the increase in audio fidelity that the SNES brought to the table.
Double Dragon has an official theme music.
It’s a truly great theme that’s been used in pretty much every game in the series.
The fact that I hold this remix of the Slum theme in higher regard than the Return version of the Double Dragon theme is a testament to it’s longevity.
If the Slum theme is a prime example of a classic tune made even better, then the China Town theme should serve as a wonderful example of a completely original track taking charge and standing out amongst its more seasoned peers.
Similar in many ways to the Slum theme, in that it is strangely colorful and fast-paced despite the rather grungy subject matter of the game, the China Town theme pushes all the buttons that the former does, albeit in, arguably, more effective fashion.
The China Town theme has an element of carefree fun to it that makes it downright irresistible.
If was to name any one track in the Double Dragon series “The Best Head-Bobbing Track in the Game,” then it would probably have to be this one.
In case you’re wondering why you haven’t heard this track before, that would be because it is exclusive to Return of Double Dragon.
That’s right, bizarre as it may seem, one of the best pieces of music featured in the game wasn’t even featured in the American release.
Oh well, I got my copy, screw the rest ‘ah ya’ll.