Wednesday 17 November 2021

Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NES review)

Developer: Technos Japan
Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment
Released: 1990

Double Dragon II: The Revenge is a beat-em-up that was released two years after the first game (1988, NES).

There's nine missions and the aim is to take revenge on the Black Shadow Warriors gang who have killed your girlfriend Marion. Alongside punches and kicks, enemies can be grabbed which allows further moves such as throws and elbow drops. There are also timing-based attacks which include a Spinning Cyclone (spin in mid-air with one foot extended) and a Hyper Uppercut (mighty punch when landing from a jump). Considering the limited number of buttons on the NES controller it's impressive how many moves are at your disposal; there's always a way out of any situation (even if you're being flanked from both sides) and the ability to smash enemies with weapons and throw them off platform edges feels more akin to a 16-bit title such as Streets of Rage 2 (1992, Sega Genesis). Things don't stop there though, as the special moves are ridiculously fun to execute (while being very powerful) and the fact that they're timing-based adds some skill to a genre that's occasionally thought of as a button masher. The level design sees you traversing in all four directions and having to climb ladders to reach enemies and jump between buildings gives the action an epic feel. There's also a nice mix of wide open environments where you can use your full arsenal and narrow corridors with spiked ceilings that force you to rely exclusively on ground-based attacks. However, the tricky platforming later in the game is a bit finicky control-wise as the jumping is stiff, and it also doesn't help that there's instant death traps everywhere. The inclusion of co-op mode (that was missing from the original) is terrific though.

Double Dragon II: The Revenge is one of the finest beat-em-ups on the system and the sheer variety of attacks at your disposal allows for much more calculated battles. The level design is absorbing too and the inclusion of co-op makes for a game that has tons of replayability whether you're playing alone or with a friend.

Random trivia: A follow-up called Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones was released on the NES in 1991.

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