Double Dragon IIAlright, so the first Double Dragon game on the NES wasn't that good. That doesn't mean that it can't redeem itself, because with sequels, comes some inevitable improvements! Enter Double Dragon 2, a game that improves on some things, but doesn't quite fix some of the bullshit from the first game. So what's improved and what is consistent? Let's find out!
Story: The streets are constantly filling up with gangs, though two brave warriors, Billy and Jimmy Lee, are quick to challenge and kick them out of town. Unfortunately, one gang decided to challenge them to a fight, but instead of politely asking, they kidnap Billy's girlfriend, and now they have to get her back by going through this gang. This time, the story is told through a few shots of text describing the events, as opposed to a gang member punching a woman in the stomach and heading away, so it's told a bit better this time around, and the backstory is a nice little addition, so thumbs up there.
Gameplay: Just like in the first game, the aim is to proceed through levels while beating the piss out of random thugs. Unlike the first game, you'll be given all of your attacks straight away instead of having to deal with some interesting-yet-somewhat-pointless RPG level up system to gain each attack slowly upon progression. Enemies and bosses will provide you with some sort of challenge, well, except that against bigger enemies, it turns from a fight to a one sided brawl as, although you're hitting them, they can just sneak in a punch and combo your ass to the ground. This gets a bit annoying, though with persistence, you can fight back and deliver the smackdown on their asses! So yeah, the combat engine works finely, and a fair bit better than in the first game. Not to mention - 2 player simultaneous play! YAY! Now you can gang up on bigger enemies and give them knuckle sandwiches! This manages to buff the problem with them hardly staggering! Plus... it's FUN playing with friends, because friendship is power!
You'll still be given some pain in the ass platforming segments, though they've been trimmed down a bit and they're not so poorly implemented - rather, they actually feel like a part of the game! With that said, while they're not that poor, they're still frustrating. For instance, there are segments with disappearing blocks. Instead of jumping with the grace and agility of Spiderman, you jump more like a fat and retarded Simon Belmont. What... FUN!
Not much to say, really. Double Dragon 2 is as bare bones as the first game. The only reason that review has more is because there were more flaws to point out. I mean, yeah, there is a glitch where if you go to 2 player mode B and constantly kill your partner, you can get more lives, but that's about it, and it's a helpful glitch because there are some parts that'll be tricky as hell, and like before, you have no continues, so... I'd say "drink up"... on the blood of your inanimate partner!
Controls: What I've said about the controls in the first Double Dragon most applies here. The jumping still feels awkward at first as you have to press A and B at the same time (though it - being the timing - ends up feeling natural after a while), and it still feels like they crammed in as many moves as possible onto just two buttons, making it tough to do specific moves, and I swear, the spinning kick only works about 3/4's of the time, so don't start thinking that you can spam possibly one of the best moves in the game - you can't rely on it working 100% of the time. There's an interesting control quirk to take note of as well - the kick and punch buttons attack different sides, depending on where you're facing. You'll always perform a forward punch and a backwards kick. This will take some time to get used to, but after some time, you'll probably find it hard to go back to traditional controls! Regardless, the controls still aren't that good, though they're not terrible, either.
Graphics: It looks like the graphics have stepped up a notch. The colors are bold and the environments have a decent amount of detail in them, almost SNES quality! The characters are also more detailed, given some different shades of color where appropriate, though their faces still feel a little disfigured... eh, screw the nitpicking, because there's a character that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, which equals awesome! In other words, the graphics look good for 8-bit, and that's all I ask out of the NES for graphics...
Audio: Unlike the first Double Dragon, the soundtrack is a lot more consistent. Each song sounds just as good as the last, and the songs manage to sound pretty good, too. They manage to fit the pace of each level, managing to enhance the atmosphere and make combat more interesting, which is always applaudable. Oh, and each of the sound effects are just right. The lesser effects are low key and barely noticeable, while the effects for weapons and special attacks sound nice and stick out for a brief period of time - usually, the NES can't pull off decent sound effects, but Double Dragon 2 proves us wrong here!
Replay Value: With a two player mode that works the way it should, it manages to entice some replay value, since you and a friend can have fun cursing each other out, fighting, pisstaking, and generally having fun while kicking the asses of gang members as Billy and Jimmy Lee! It's games like this that makes times like that more enjoyable. There isn't much else to tide you over, though, so if you want to keep this game alive, make sure your friends want to play it with you!
Overall: Double Dragon 2 is a lot better. There are still some segments that piss me off, but it's all refined, mostly enjoyable and technically sound. It shows people just what the Double Dragon console ports can really do. Now, if there was a sequel, it'd really be able to show us just how well this series can do outside of the arcades... I mean, if you can notice the pattern, that is... At any rate, if you have an NES and you can find the cartridge anywhere, I suggest that you buy it, because it's certainly worth it!