Double Dragon II for the NES
What’s this? Two gaming features so close to each other? Yeah, I know…I’m trying! I took a look back at Double Dragon a few days ago so it’s only fitting that I continue on with the second installment on the NES: Double Dragon II: The Revenge.
Double Dragon was a hit in the arcade and on the NES. Double Dragon II: The Revenge (once again developed by Technos) was released in the arcades at the end of 1988 with the NES version following in 1990. I never saw or played the arcade version back in the day but it is completely different than the NES version. Only a few of the new characters made the transition over but none of the levels seemed to.
Double Dragon II on the NES took what was successful in the first game and improved on it while taking out the “leveling up” gimmick to unlock moves. Two moves were added to the NES version that made it easier to get through than the first game – the forward thrusting knee and the hurricane kick. The knee would usually knock an enemy off the screen, never to be seen again. The hurricane kick is easier to pull off by pressing the A and B button at the same time and I would use it all the time. I would knock enemies off buildings when I could so they’d instantly die.
One of the most shocking things about the game, although I never thought too much of it back in the day, was how the story started off. In this game, instead of Marian getting captured, she’s killed. I was ignorant at the time about how Nintendo was big on censoring many things on their system and watched many violent and horror movies growing up, so this wasn’t a big deal to me. Now that I’m older, I’m quite surprised this was allowed knowing what I know now about Nintendo’s rules. It’s more subtle for the NES version, but if you were in the know at the time, it was heavy. Perhaps the ending to the game made up for the narrative at the beginning but if you didn’t play it on a certain difficulty, you’d never know.
Getting past all that, the game improves as well in the graphics department. The characters are bigger, the levels are larger, the bosses are plentiful, and some seemed over the top at the time. Remember the time the helicopter appeared, started shooting, and dropped off enemies for you to fight all while not trying to fall off the roof top area? That was intense back in the day.
The new characters in the game were diverse and fun to play against. Some of the more memorable ones to be were the big yellow muscular guy, the disappearing masked and armoured brute, and Abobo WITH hair! I’ll also mention the enemies with the sticks. I used to call them the “Peter Pan” guys.
Other parts of the game that still stick out in my mind to this day are: having to time your jumps precisely on the disappearing platforms, having to watch out for spikes and descending claws in the cavern, and the boss fight at the end.
The music for this game is also an improvement over the first. I used to hum all the tunes off by heart and while I was grabbing some stills for this feature, I couldn’t believe how much I actually missed listening to this soundtrack. While it’s not up there with Ninja Gaiden, it’s still pretty damn good. I hope someone gets on releasing this on vinyl one day.
I’ll confess: it’s been a while since I’ve played through this game. I got so good at it that when I got the game that I could beat it losing no more than one life. I bet if (and when) I finally play it again that won’t be the case but I always looked at it as the game that was too easy for me.
You may be wondering which installment out of the two I think is better. While part one still offered me a challenge (and still does – the last level has always been a pain in the ass for me) and I’ve blown through Part 2 more times than I’d like to admit, I always found Part 2 more engaging. There’s more variety to the game, I like the diversity of the characters and levels more, and the tunes are better. I’d have to say Double Dragon 2: The Revenge would win in my books against the original. Now about Part 3….hmmm. Am I even going to waste my time writing about that piece of shit? Maybe!