Written by  :  ET2600 (16)
Written on  :  May 31, 2005
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Brawler Heaven

The Good

I remember this game not really impressing me when I was 8 years old; to me, Double Dragon II appeared to be the same punching, kicking and throwing action reprised with a some new graphics and new enemy sprites.

I was such a young, naive fool.

To put it quite simply, this game is the absolute benchmark and template for all 2D side-scrolling brawlers to follow. It's hard to comment on this game as an Arcade Port since the entire layout was redone for the NES: new levels, new enemies, new moves, new bosses. All these additions and tweaks elevated Double Dragon II from a simple arcade port to a unique, extensive and deeply executed brawler.

To anyone who might not be familiar with the gameplay, you play as Billy and/or Jimmy: two guys who need to save Billy's girlfriend and who are willing to beat a lot of ass to do so. Between you and Billy's girl is an endless gang of thugs, strongmen, hazardous obstacles and perilous locales. Anything that moves wants a piece of you. This includes dynamite-throwing Ropers, mace-swinging Lindas, purple ninjas, helicopters armed with machine guns, spike-filled pits and Arnold Schwarzenegger: it's your job as Billy and Jimmy Lee to beat the piss out of them.

Luckily enough, both Billy and Jimmy are brimming with moves; Technos manages to milk a hefty arsenal of punches, kicks, throws and aerial attacks from just the A and B buttons. Depending on whether you are jumping, running, walking, rising from your knees, you will perform a different kick/punch/throw; it's best to utilize the most devastating moves, such as the uppercut, flying roundhouse kick and super-knee, to make quick work of whoever gets in your way.

In addition to basic and advanced striking moves, Billy and Jimmy can put enemies in a world of headlock where they can be thrown, kneed in the face or simply booted into the air with a field-goal kick. If that wasn't enough, you can pick up any of the sharp, blunt and explosive weapons dropped by downed foes. These include knives, pipes, maces, grenades and short sticks of dynamite.

I would highly recommend that this game be played in its 2-player mode if being played for the first time. Playing solo is still a fun and challenging romp, but one would be missing a whole other dimension the game has to offer. Technos has graciously gone through the effort of including two 2-player modes: one where the players are impervious to each other's blows and one where the players can intentionally/unintentionally beat the crap out of each other.

The Bad

The most tiresome segments of this game involve platform jumping. The jumping is reliant of the jump-kick moves (A+B simultaneously) and it isn't the most precise affair; this wouldn't be as much of a problem if the platform jumping segments themselves weren't sudden death affairs. For example, imagine having to jump from one conveyor belt (inclined on throwing you off into a bottomless pit behind you) across a bottomless pit onto another conveyor belt (directed to throw you back into the pit you just spanned).

If a player isn't prepared for these platform jumping segments, the adventure typically comes to a halting stop, or at the very least, precious lives are wasted on the least fun part of the game.

The Bottom Line

The best brawler ever to grace the 8-bit generation, and the standard to which all console brawlers should be judged upon.