Review by Raiden

"I've NOW decided: DD 2's HARDER than DD 3, and not just more fun..."

As suggested by the title of my review, I have formed a slightly different opinion of Double Dragon 2, in relation to Double Dragon 3 on NES. I can now safely say (w/o reservations) that I'm a bigger fan of DD 2 than DD 3, like most game players who care about the DD games.

Double Dragon 2 is one of the best side-scrolling beat-em-ups I've played (esp. given the limitations of the system on which it plays), because it offers more challenge than most, while staying fun. I admit I had to get more used to the graphical limitations of the nes than I thought, since I didn't grow up with that particular system, but I certainly warmed up to it.

My only regret is that I might even change my mind about this game later on, as I get better at it, but I suppose all reviewers feel that way about games as time passes, so I SHOULDN'T really have any regrets. Now then--ON to the review!

Plot (6): The plot isn't so exciting, because it's so typical: hero fights bad gang of thugs (with his fraternal-twin brother) to protect his town/homeland from ruin AND to rescue his g/f who was kidnapped (either to be mean or as a warning to him not to interfere); hero rescues g/f and defeats the baddies in crazy street fights, and all seems well. Yet as this is the sequel, there had to be SOMEthing to make it different from the 1st DD game, plotwise, and thankfully that didn't mean someone ELSE being kidnapped. Rather, now it seems the evil Shadow Warriors have KILLED Billy Lee's g/f, and he's simply out for REVENGE this time. It was kinda surprising to me that such a realistic edge--involving gangs and the results of their incessant violence and citywide destruction--would be put in the game...and that's why the plot gets a 6, even though NO ONE's g/f should be killed :(

Graphics (8): At first glance, I looked at this game and thought YIIIIIIGH, this'll take some getting accustomed to, as I recently bought this game and an nes for the first time, despite already having seen pics of this game. I think the graphics are pretty nice, though. Characters are overall well-detailed for an nes game, colorful, and LARGER than in DD 3, for sure. I esp. (especially) like the way the larger bosses look, although, saying that makes me wish your own character looked as cool as the bosses. I guess the bigger enemies are just really tall and buff? :P
Moves look cool too: esp. the Cyclone kick!

Music/Sound (7): I wish I commented more on the sound effects in DD 3 when I JUST reviewed it the day before (roughly), because they are overall better than in this game, I suppose. I just couldn't remember them that well lol. I can't remember who said this, but in DD 2, here, the punches don't sound like punches, and the same goes for the kicks (maybe that was even said by more than one person), and I can agree with that. Yet the sound effects are a bit cooler for the special moves, and esp. when you connect with them--impressive impact sounds for an 8-bit game. I think even the Cyclone kick sounds a tad better in this game than in DD 3.

The music, on the other hand, isn't memorable and not as enjoyable as in DD 3, but I like it ok. I personally seldom find reasons to complain about the music in ANY game, except in my Peace Keepers review (which even then wasn't a major complaint).

Control (8): I have also decided that dashing isn't as big a deal in DD 3 as I had thought, so perhaps the control problems in that game aren't that serious, yet the control in DD 2 is still a little better here, overall. You might wonder why I'm comparing the games like crazy, but I guess that's because the similarities and differences between the 2 games fascinate me, in a sense.

Control is also one of the best aspects for making a comparison between the different DD games, since special moves are executed similarly in both. The Cyclone kick is a little harder to do, and so are the Hyper Uppercut and ESP. the Hyper Knee (whatever) move, but practice makes perfect, and dashing wasn't needed in this game to avoid being surrounded by cheap enemies, such as in DD 3, although the Hyper Knee is practically mandatory for beating some bosses, later in the game. This means that the controls itself aren't bad, but just that the controls can't afford to be 'clumsy'.

Finally, to correct a typo from my DD 3 review (as well as a parenthesis typo since I HATE making typos!), I mentioned the ATTACK scheme in this game, in which you have to use the B button to punch or kick to the left, or the A button to do the same, but in the other/right direction. This may seem awkward at first, and some gamers don't like having to turn around to kick someone in the same direction that they can punch someone, but I like this original idea, even if it's silly. Furthermore, there are a few times when kicks in this game are USEFUL, as some enemies get faked out by Billy's/Jimmy's back-kicks; not expecting your hero to attack them when their back is turned to them.

I guess the main reason I like to compare the two games is because if you like one, you might like the other :) Or maybe I just like comparing different games in the same series (so I hope I'm not making many unnecessary comparisons).

Gameplay (8): Billy and Jimmy have more moves in this game than in DD 3, even though they can't do dashing versions of their moves. Dashing isn't needed in this game to get around, as most enemies are considerably slower than the Dragon twins in terms of walking speed, and thus won't so easily be able to trap you between them. On the other hand, you can't do team-up moves like in DD 3 (which might be really useful, if I had a friend to play with!), which can add a nice level of depth not found in most beat-em-ups, and you don't automatically get weapons to use (albeit limited in use), either, which could have been useful against some of the CHEAPER bosses in this game.

I shoulda seen this coming, but this game is actually overall HARDER than DD 3. Sure: you get more lives and you have codes like the extra-lives trick, but the last boss is actually CHEAPER than in DD 3, so I now have to eat my words for thinking I couldn't beat DD 3, and I can thank WLau for reminding me that the 'up-and-down' strategy DOES work somewhat well against even the toughest foes in DD 3 (although I felt the need to use a slightly different strategy than his to beat the game). I don't see a good pattern for beating the last boss this time...

The other reason this game is harder is because you have to deal with traps and beds of nails that you can land on if not careful, and which spell instant death. I've NEVER been a big fan of adding weird levels and parts of levels like these in side-scrolling beat-em-ups (or racing levels, for that matter), because they're usually too hard for me to handle! In the DD games I have played, however, I have so far been able to deal with these potential predicaments with mere practice, even though it's VERY easy to mess up and see all your extra lives go down the drain...but I wish more beat-em-ups had fun challenges like the ones I've encountered in the DD series :)

Replay Value (7): This game is pretty fun and certainly LONGER than its sequel, so whether you find this game harder or not will not detract from its overall greater complexity and greater variety of challenges. Sure: you only get basically one character to play as, with one set of moves to use, as opposed to 3 fighters in DD 3, but you have to use a greater percentage of your moves repertoire cleverly in order to defeat your foes and overcome all literal obstacles.

Overall (8): This is certainly one of the better beat-em-ups I've encountered, and I can tell you, I've played a LOT of them. This game takes more skill to navigate through, making it more than just a side-scroller with cool moves and pleasant video and audio characteristics. If you don't enjoy this game because you find the somewhat Super-Deformed (SD) graphics nauseating; the music uninspiring; the controls too quirky; etc., granted, but I can point to few games in its genre--other than Streets of Rage 3 and maybe Guardian Heroes on Saturn--that surpass it in overall beat-em-up bliss. ~Raiden/Nick


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/07/03, Updated 01/07/03


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