There are games that divide player opinion, and these types of games become more apparent when arguing about two games that are very similar to one another. Well, this is what this opinion piece is all about. But some games that are highly regarded within their respective genre are often pitted against each other in a never-ending duel to showcase which is greater. There have been age-old debates to determine which is the better fighting game, Double Dragon or Streets of Rage?
Why is each game important?
Both games are landmarks for the genre, and amid the Sega and Nintendo battle, they proved themselves to be worthy titles, with clear signs that Sega had the upper hand over Nintendo. Both games have their loyal fan bases, with each side taking a firm place in their rightful camp. You might see that there’s strong affection on each side, and those who love either game do so with merciless passion and huge dislike for the other.
Both games have their own styles and method for executing pacing when it comes to gameplay. These were really the most renowned side scrolling fighters compared to others such as Golden Axe. In many ways, they refined the genre for others to follow and aspire to. But, dare I ask which game did it better?
Fighting words (plot, or lack thereof ).
Well, they’re retro fighting games. You never really needed a story to get a bunch of guys and girls to beat the crap out of one another. But in terms of “thrilling” narratives, let’s explore each game.
Double Dragon is just a pretty typical save-the-damsel-in-distress-while-beating-up-a-bunch-of-guys-in-the-process kind of affair. That’s it really, nothing more. Just a pair of generic guys saving a girl from the hands of fiendish punks, Hulk rip-offs, and typical ’80s-dressed clubbers with machine guns.
Streets of Rage spins a tale with a few more layers and depth. We have a bunch of tough-as-nails cops who’ve had enough of the crime wave and the villains owning the streets, so they take matters into their own hands. With plenty of violence! Oh yeah! So, again, nothing special, but at least this story involves a mysterious Big Boss with a magic stick that sets back time–if you screw up–and a decent trio of protagonists who feature Adam, an African American who specialises in boxing and round housing scumbags, and British badass Blaze who can hold her own in an environment of macho male fighters, and a pretty campy, yet brilliant, opposition in the form of a wolverine-like character. The game even had a campy Captain Boomerang and a really campy oiled-up wrestler guy! Very campy, but brilliant.
Double Dragon had some green dude and a bunch of ’80s dancers. Yeah, menacing.
Streets of Rage holds a little better compared to Double Dragon for having a better cast of characters and a diverse lineup of players. But above all, you get a female character to fight with instead of the typical fighting games that had you only playing as men. Besides, we had this weird image at the start of Double Dragon where your sweetheart is knock out and carried off by a bunch of seedy looking guys with her panties visibly showing. Tasteless.
Ok, that’s rather unpleasant. I know Streets of Rage players where keen to make Blaze do the flips to catch a cheeky flash, but she was awesome. she kicked ass and was actually a playable character rather than one who needed rescuing.
Beatdown . . . soundtrack.
Streets of Rage, hands down.
No question about it. No Double Dragon fan can deny the amazing soundtrack in Streets of Rage compared to the monotone Double Dragon. Streets of Rage showcases a brilliant composition of techno-, electro-, and house-music bringing forth an energetic collection of beats and tunes that perfectly accompany beating the crap out of dudes. It’s like the Doom 2016 soundtrack of that era. It’s memorable, enjoyable, and just suits the game perfectly.
Both games are similar in some ways: the basic design of moving from left to right, beating up various NPCs, taking on bosses, and interacting with the environment to obtain weapons and health pickups. You have boss fights, various environments, and awesome manoeuvres to take down your opponents.
Both games are fairly similar on the outside, but both games did certain things slightly differently. Double Dragon was indeed the game that cemented a lot of mechanics into the genre, and Streets of Rage wouldn’t necessarily be the game it is without the influence. Double Dragon did have great pacing and involved tactical elements via interacting with the game world to fight opponents, while Streets of Rage proved to be more engaging with an expanded and more interesting roster of villains, environments, and level designs, including set pieces and the much-loved elevator stage.
Streets of Rage proved yet again to be the grander experience and one with excellent fighting mechanics and gameplay.
There’s one defining winner here and it’s Streets of Rage.
But, in the end, both games are important. They’re both classics that have created two loyal and devoted fan bases. Indeed, many DD fans argue SoR is nothing more than a shallow clone. But the case with Streets of Rage and Double Dragon is very similar to that of the survival horror genre. Alone in the Dark, back in 1994, set the bar for the genre and helped shape the path for others to follow. It was certainly rough around the edges but had heart and was inspiring. Resident Evil came along and refined it until it was perfect. And here it’s the same–Double Dragon came along to set the standard and Streets of Rage surpassed it.
It’s higher quality of gameplay, design, and soundtrack is above Double Dragon in every way. But Double Dragon is owed thanks from any fan of Streets of Rage.
That is, unless you like Golden Axe and consider that to be the ultimate 2D fighting game. In that case, you’re wrong–it’s pretty good, but it isn’t no Streets of Rage!