You may or may not be surprised to learn that Double Dragon on the C64 could have been very different – or at least a lot better than it was!
We don’t know that for sure though – but we do know that the game was originally being developed by another team at Binary Design, but the developers had gone AWOL apparently.
It left Virgin Mastertronic with no game to market, having already paid for all the marketing. With a very good reputation, Virgin went to Ash and Dave to see if they could help them salvage the conversion. After making them an offer they couldn’t refuse, they were snapped up to do a conversion.
However, Ash and Dave were only given a crazy 6 week deadline to complete the entire game – but the publisher told them that they just needed something to put in a box and sell. Regardless of that statement, Ash and Dave did their utmost best given the time-frame – but unfortunately it showed and the conversion was universally panned.
Knowing this was likely going to happen, they did not add their credits to the game – as it could well have affected future work contracts at the time. Can you blame them?
But what of the game that was originally in development? How far did it get? Why was it abandoned?
Double Dragon Dojo did an interview with Nick Speakman, who was the project manager at Binary Design during the home conversions of Double Dragon in 1988 at the age of just 19.
At the start, it seemed things were going well, and graphics were being initially being drawn by hand before being ported via screen grabbing from the JAMMA boards. A team of programmers who were set to do the developments apparently “made a mess of it” and Binary Design were told by Virgin Mastertronic to “do it again” and even change all the graphics.
Apparently many of the “old guard” Binary Design had left, and it was mostly graduate programmers who had come in and were given the game as their first assignment. It all needed to be done in time for Christmas sales. Originally their team had about 3 months to do everything, but now with the re-write it was just several weeks now available to get it all done.
Contributions: Ashley Routledge, Akkroid
12/12/22 – Details added to main piece thanks to Akkroid (sorry for the delay!)