Blast from the Past: Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NES)
Hear the word ‘Double Dragon’ and the 30-something generation lose their minds as you’re told about their glorious arcade days. The sequel also headed to arcades and was later ported to various other consoles. The NES (or Famicom) version was a port, in name, but in fact a completely different game.
Other than the first level, made up of nine, there’s nothing that ties this game with the arcade version. Thankfully this reworked title NES game was a much improved game over the original Double Dragon port. This time you could play through the game with a buddy by your side in co-op mode where you played as either Jimmy Lee or Billy Lee. To tie in with the early 90s release date they included a typical 90s plot in that they were revenging the death of their girlfriend who had been killed by The Shadow Warriors. Yup, that’s a good enough reason to beat the crap out of anything that looks like a threat.
Like the original game you’d walk from left to right and beat up all foes that stepped in your way. It’s the control setup that changed most and took some getting used to. Face a goon to your left and you’d use the B button to punch him or her. Press the A button and you’d kick any foe who walked up from behind you. Turn around and the controls reverse in that the A button now changes into a punch and kick moves to the B button. It’s more a case of mentally understanding that if someone is on your right press the ‘right button’ to punch and, if on the left, press the left button to punch. Press the two together and you’d perform a jump. Combine it with a direction and a spinning cyclone will see enemies on either side getting knocked down, but master the thumping ‘knee’ move and they’d quite literally fly off the screen.
Revenge of the bros.
The controls were not quite perfect, but after the first level you’d get the hang of it. Like before you’d be able to pick up various weapons dropped by enemies you’ve encountered and could use it against them. The stage design was also much better than the original. In one stage you’re in a chopper fighting off hordes of enemies while keeping an eye on a door that opens up every so often and sucks you and the foes towards it. Time your punches and kicks right and you can use it to your advantage. There are also stages later on that require good platforming skills, and it’s here where it’s obvious that the jumping mechanic is a little flawed. You’d lose your lives in seconds and before you know it you would have finished all your continues and stare at the Game Over screen. Fall off a ledge and you lose an entire life – something that’s costly in this game where a health bar is made up of eight chunks of health. So that’s eight ‘hits’ down the drain if you fall off a platform.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge gets much tougher later on. Should you make it to the last two levels you will be tested and, should you not have a buddy to couch co-op with you, you’re going to have a tough time beating this game by yourself. Your eyes are constantly on your health meter. Once it drops you’ll reappear as a flashing character. As with most of these older games it’s the best time to take advantage of your invincibility for a few seconds and beat up the tougher enemies. While doing so you’re at least bopping to the music.
Enter the Dragon
This NES classic had a fantastic soundtrack. Play it today and it’s got that typical legendary third-party NES quality to the music. The music for each theme is really spectacular and if you played it in your childhood it’ll have the memories streaming back in seconds.
The Double Dragon series has defined a generation of arcade gamers for years. This port to console was proof that it had legs, but unfortunately nostalgia is also an ugly thing. What you and a friend enjoyed for hours and hours years ago can now be completed in 1-2 hours. This sequel is definitely still a classic in its own right, just don’t expect it to last very long.