'Double Dragon' Creator Yoshihisa Kishimoto Interview: A Retro Classic Returns

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DOTEMU
DotEMU

One of the very best things about modern mobile gaming is the new lease of life it's given to retro classics. And this week one of the true stand-out titles of the 1980s has made a come-back: Double Dragon.

The brilliant side-scrolling beat-em-up will be familiar to anyone who touched a gamepad in the 8- and 16-bit era, and influenced everything from contemporaries like Streets of Rage to modern fighting and brawling games.

The new title (available on iOS and Google Play) is a compilation of all three games from the original trilogy - Double Dragon, Double Dragon 2: The Revenge and Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone.

The game includes arcade and story modes, customisable controls and two soundtracks.

We caught up with the game's original creator, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, to find out how he felt now his classic game is back punching and kicking once again.

Why is Double Dragon still relevant to modern gamers?

"I don’t know if younger generations play and really enjoy the first Double Dragon as we did in the older generations, but I’m sure that Double Dragon is the first of its kind and has brought the basics of what is later called the Beat Em Up. Also known as fighting game as we know it. In this way, it made History, and this licence is fairly known especially because it was a pioneer."

How powerful is nostalgia when it comes to games - and how much does it restrict the development of new ideas?

"I do not think it's restricting for the development of new ideas because there is a place for everyone. In fact, it’s really important to readapt old games because there is an audience for them.

A good game stays indefinitely a good game. Moreover, it’s a very good cultural way to share the heritage of gaming to new generations of players. So, to me, it does not interfere and it is useful."

How important was the limitations in old computer hardware to inspiring creativity? Did the lack of technical power make you more or less creative?

"We only worked with awareness of these limitations, because of the size of the sprites. The size was so limited that we were not free to create characters to the size we really wanted. Same thing for the stage sets: we wanted to create stage sets on several fronts, but it slowed down the game’s speed.

In the same kind of limitations, there was also the problem of the colors number. We were tight, and we had to choose from a palette of limited colors. Graphically, it was quite limited, in terms of data or even in terms of display; we could not see many objects or characters used simultaneously because it slowed the speed of the game. So, we had to create games with important restrictions."

Will people still be playing Double Dragon in 100 years?

"I don’t know if people will play Double Dragon in 100 years but I think that Beat’em up is a timeless kind of game."

Are there any other games you've made that you'd like to rerelease on mobile platforms?

"There are already two of my games (Mega-Cd games) that have been ported on mobiles a few months and years ago, “Cobra Command” (also known as Thunder Storm) and “Road Blaster”. I’d like to see “The Combatribes” and “WWF Superstars”, a wrestling game. And finally “China Gate” an other beat’em up: that could be very nice!"

 
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