Double Dragon 2 Review


Double Dragon 2 is the third and final NES game to be added to the Nintendo Switch Online service for the month of June. Unlike Volleyball and City Connection, I was familiar with this game from my days as an 80s child. You could say that I carry a nostalgia for the game. However, I won’t let rose-coloured glasses cloud my judgement as there are a couple small issues with the game. We do start on a strong note, so let’s not waste any more time and get on with the joys and cons of Double Dragon 2.

Interesting Story Elements

Stories in the early days of gaming were often ignored in favour of gameplay, and that is true of a lot of NES games. Sure, instruction manuals did include some tidbits of information, as was true of City Connection, however, some games went beyond those pages. Games such as Double Dragon 2, which included story elements in between stages through the means of what we now call a cutscene. It was primitive, but it worked and helped to engage the player. Double Dragon 2 does this quite well and doesn’t take too much time away from actually playing the game. The game makes sure you know what is happening as you battle from stage to stage. There is even a satisfying ending to the game, but remember to play on the Supreme Master difficulty to get the entire experience.


Solid Beat-em Up Action

Double Dragon 2 has two-player co-op, which is a big plus, but it also provides solid beat-em up action, as well. You have plenty of moves at your disposal, which includes my favourite, the elbow strike! You can also pick up and use weapons dropped by the enemy, which is a staple of the genre. There is a decent variety of enemies you will defeat along your journey, none of which put up too much of a fight. The bosses are a little tougher, however, some of them will become regular enemies as you continue to play, which can make the journey tough at times.

Controls are Tough to Master

Not my biggest complaint, however, the controls did cause some issues throughout my time with the game. First, the way you attack can be confusing, at least during the early stages of the game. You will punch toward the enemy by pressing A if you are facing right, and kick behind you with the B button. This is reversed when you are facing left. The way the controls are setup left me open to attack at times, which then led to unwanted deaths. You try to punch the approaching enemy and start wildly kicking behind yourself, forgetting that you’re not currently facing that direction at the moment. It takes some practice and can be mastered, but I can see it putting off some people. Jumping is also weird and accomplished by pressing both the A and B buttons simultaneously. It isn’t an issue for the majority of the game, however, there is platforming.

Some Unfair Moments

Double Dragon 2 mostly delivers in the gameplay department, however, it has its fair share of difficult and/or unfair moments. Most of which are encountered during the platforming sections. There are disappearing platforms, gears, and conveyor belts to conquer late in the game. This normally wouldn’t be an issue in platforming games, but this isn’t a platforming game. The characters movements are a bit stiff, so jumping can feel a tad awkward during these challenging moments. Luckily, you can utilize (abuse) the save slot function to overcome these segments. However, this isn’t a luxury if you’re playing on original hardware.

There is one particular moment in the game that must be highlighted. This occurs in claustrophobic corridors with spikes directly overhead. This setup makes it difficult to execute special attacks, which makes the Abobo with hair (aka Bolo) near impossible to defeat.

Stylish Pixel Art

I wouldn’t say that Double Dragon 2 is one of the prettiest NES games, however, where it lacks in beauty, it exudes in style. There is a futuristic, gritty, punk style found throughout the game that is a perfect fit for the game’s story. Double Dragon in general also has some of the coolest, and most iconic enemy designs in the genre. There were moments when I stopped and thought, dang, this looks pretty cool.

Fantastic Soundtrack

Rounding out Double Dragon 2 is its fantastic soundtrack. To match the game’s setting, the soundtrack has a futuristic dance vibe that is a perfect fit for the series. It also has that certain Technos Japan sound that makes it easily recognizable as a game from that developer. NES composers had a knack for creating music that fits its series, and Technos Japan joins the greats, most notably Nintendo, Capcom, and Konami.

Conclusion

Double Dragon 2 delivers in just about every aspect. It is far from the perfect beat-em up, and perfect NES game for that matter, but it is without a doubt a classic. The frustrating moments come late in the game and can stop you in your tracks, but you can succeed if you keep pushing forward. Multiplayer also keeps this game feeling fresh today, which is something the likes of Final Fight on Super Nintendo couldn’t say today.

Final Score: +2

No comments