The Greatest Justification For Messed-Up Video Game Graphics I Ever Saw

The Greatest Justification For Messed-Up Video Game Graphics I Ever Saw

I’ve forgotten most of the things I read in video game instruction manuals when I was a kid. But one thing I read in the instruction manual for the Commodore 64 version of Double Dragon stuck with me.

It taught me something about the reality of video games.

I’m talking about a note in the Double Dragon manual from the developers (see above; click it to enlarge it). In the note, the game’s programmers explained why the two main characters of this C64 port of this brawling instant-classic had transparent waistlines. It was weird that they did, after all. Their justification was as bizarre as it was reasonable: they cut the heroes in half to enable multiplayer.

Here’s how the game looked on the C64, transparent waistlines and all… the price for co-op play.

That instruction manual note was a lesson for me — young gamer that I was back then — about how game designers work within constraints. They will sometimes have to cut here to add there. As a gamer and a fan, I should appreciate that and celebrate the people who make the smart choices. Lesson learned. I think the Double Dragon C64 team made the right choices. I thought so then, and I think so now.

(Scan of the manual via the 60 Four Origins Database. Watch the game in action here.)


  • I love the insight into the development issues! I wish more developers were this transparent (at the waist or otherwise)

  • I seem to remember the disc based version had another version on flip-side of the disc that used a different approch, or it may have been the original streetfighter, my memory is hazy as it was over 2o years ago.

  • Similar to how GTA IV’s draw distance/trees-haze looked like absolute crap, and Rockstar tried to tell us it was deliberate, that it was for ‘artistic’ purposes.

  • I was always amazed at how as the C64 got older they crammed more and more into each game. 1 trick I remember noting in an article in Zzap 64 was regarding a way to increase the colours available in the pallet. The programes simply flipped between 2 so quickly it looked like a single colour somewhere in between. Now if I can only remember the game.

  • I remember reading the manual for TMNT on the NES and in the bio section it listed Donatello’s weapon as “Bo (not to be confused with everybody’s favourite ’10’).

    My 9 year old brain didn’t appreciate this very adult reference.

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