Review by MMcPhun
"The high point of a series that is greatly missed..."
The Double Dragon games have run the gamut from addicting to abysmal, and this second installment ranks at the high end of the spectrum. For the first time allowing two player simultaneous action, both cooperative and competitive, The Revenge does something for the action genre that nothing else, save for Final Fight, has been able to do since. You might call this game the definition of a short-lived subgroup of action titles.
Like the original, DD2 pits you and a friend against an army of eighties punks that have done you wrong. This is basically a remake of the first one, with one important difference: Marion's not just in captivity; she's dead, and it's all your fault since you took down the Shadow Warriors a few years back. Just how do you feel about that?
Naturally, it's up to Billy Lee and his brother Jimmy (who, luckily for those programmers, happens to look EXACTLY like his sibling) to avenge and make the city a safer place for everybody. So, here's the question. Just why the hell is Billy's brother so intent on helping him track down his girlfriend's murderers? There can only be one answer: she was cheating on Billy! Yes! Drama in an action game! Time to start filming the second movie.
This game has so much going for it that it's actually kind of sad. You'll be so spoiled from playing this game that you'll never enjoy another fighting adventure like this one. Gone is the experience system of the first game, but that's compensated by an array of new moves, all of which are available at the start. Unfortunately, some moves, like the headbutt and ground pin, are missing, but replacements like the Cyclone Spin Kick and Super Uppercut are here to make you forget them.
In the graphics department, you'll be shocked. Everything is so much neater and prettier than its predecessor (and the game that follows, actually). Vibrant, colorful backgrounds are displayed throughout your quest. Battles take place in unique locations, like a heliport, a steam locomotive, and even a haunted mansion where you'll witness some paranormal activity. Bad guys are well-designed, too. Several new folks have joined the gang to get a chance to kick your ass, like a musclebound Marine and a short, annoying fellow that looks like Rob Lowe at about three o'clock in the morning. The returning cast has changed as well; Abobo now has hair and can bodyslam you; Chintai is much, much faster and comes with a healthy assortment of throwing knives; Williams is a bit more athletic, but still weak.
The Double Dragon II soundtrack is nothing short of fantastic. This is the NES at its techno/rave best. Each stage has its own individual tune, and they all rock. Also notable is the incredible assortment of sound effects. You'll be hearing things from the realistic (the meaty smacking sounds when you pop somebody in the gut) to the comical (the small explosion when you land a heavy move) to the just plain weird (the rusty spring sound when you execute the Knee Bazooka).
The only slight problems experienced during use of your Double Dragon II game pak will be encountered with the control. It's a bit slow to respond and the jumping is just plain awful (you'll be dying in the Trap Room stage quite often), but adapting to these flaws is easy. You'll soon grow accustomed to the frightful lack of control as you soar over a bed of spikes only to land on a spinning gear. Luckily, the moves can be executed reliably for the most part, which makes beating the unnamed (but still cool as hell) final boss a challenge but not impossible.
Veterans of the first game need not fear; this game is a hundred times easier. While the original was seemingly unbeatable without a Game Genie (and even then you needed mad skills), this time around it's quite possible to win on your first night. With an awesome final battle and an ending that actually provides some closure, Double Dragon II deserves some dust-free space on your shelf.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/18/00, Updated 02/22/01
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