The NES version of Double Dragon III (Double Dragon 3: The Sacred Stones) follows the same premise as the arcade version. However, the game’s script was completely rewritten for its English localization, with Billy and Jimmy being given a motive to help out Hiruko search for the Sacred Stones by having Marion (the heroine from previous games) disappear again. The final boss, originally a revived Cleopatra in the arcade and Famicom versions, is now identified as a possessed version of Marion named Queen Noiram.
The NES version features different gameplay than its arcade counterpart. The player can now switch characters through a sub-screen. The player starts out as Billy or Jimmy Lee, but gains two additional characters after …
…defeating them as bosses thorough the course of the game: Chin Seimei (a Chinese martial artist) and Yagyu Ranzou (a Japanese ninja). Each character has a secondary weapon that can be used for a limited time after equipping it from the sub-menu. In addition, the player can also use weapons from enemies like previous Double Dragon games. Each character has only one life and the game ends when all of them die (a single continue is available for the last two missions).
The NES version of Double Dragon III is notable for its typo of Billy’s name as “Bimmy” in the opening intro of the 2 Players Mode. Also, the “America” setting in the first mission of the arcade version was corrected to the more accurate “U.S.A.” setting.