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Title: Double Dragon II
Rom Player: NESticle
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie

Synopsis: When discussing the classics, one cannot help but the mention the Double Dragon series. As the story goes for this, the second installment, it is some time in the year “19XX,” after a big nuclear war. After a previously unsuccessful attempt at kidnapping Marian, the girlfriend of the twin martial arts masters known as the Double Dragons, the Shadow Warriors instead decide to simply kill her. Not a smart move on their part, as the brothers then decide to make a kung fu beeline for the mysterious leader of the Shadow Warriors, the aptly titled Shadow Master. A beeline which, in this case, runs right through slums, hidden islands, and evil fortresses, but a beeline nevertheless.

As a departure from the first, you start this game with full knowledge of all your moves, rather than having to earn them by beating them out of people. To that end, the attack buttons also work in a different fashion, as now, the A button makes you attack left, and the B button makes you attack right. To put it simply, attacking in the direction you’re facing will cause you to punch, while attacking in the other direction will cause you to kick backwards. It takes fewer kicks than punches to knock someone down, but having your back turned to them will generally put you at a disadvantage, for after a few punches, you can either deal one last uppercut to your foe, or you can grapple with them. This opens up a whole new set of options, ranging from a simple knee in the face to hurling the person over your shoulder.

Ah, but those are only the most basic maneuvers. The real treat comes with the addition of three super moves that really help clean house. The first of such moves is the relatively easy to perform move called the “Spinning Cyclone.” This move causes your character to do a nifty little spinning kick in the air, bashing the crap out of anyone who wanders too close. The second is the slightly more difficult move known as the “Hyper Uppercut.” I don’t see what’s so hyper about it, as it is just a normal uppercut than can be executed without first punching the enemy. The last, most deadly, and also the trickiest to pull off, is the “High Jump Kick.” I’d say that it’s more of a jumping knee bash, but whatever. Hitting someone with this maneuver will fling them across the screen and, in most cases, leave them quite dead. You can use these moves as often as you like, but the catch is that the Spinning Cyclone and High Jump Kick can be dodge by the enemy if they crouch in time.

Of course, the Double Dragon series has not been one to leave out little extras like weapons and such. You’ll be treated to throwing knives, lead pipes, grenades, chains, and more to assist you in your conquest of the evil empire. The weapons that you can throw, with the exception of the lead pipe, disappear once they hit someone or explode. The rest of the weapons can be used to club, whip, or punt your opponents multiple times. Unfortunately, once the group from which you stole the weapon from is all defeated, the weapon, like the dead body, will vanish.

Who will you be taking said weapons from, you ask? Why, an army of clones that the Shadow Master has cooked up to slow you down. From the very beginning of the game, you will be attacked by sets of enemies, each member of the set being indistinguishable from the other members. Essentially, they all look like gang members, and extras from Mad Max. Most of them possess a fighting skill that pales in comparison to yours and instead choose to use weapons. On occasion, however, you will run into two types of skilled enemies: guys in kung fu robes, and guys with twin swords. They require a bit more care to overcome, and unfortunately, you cannot steal the swords from the latter.

The bosses are also an interesting bunch. The very first boss is what I can only describe as a fat man with an enchanted mask that lets him pop back to life once. After that, the rest of the bosses are either fast or strong, with the final boss being a combination of the two. Even more interesting than the last boss, however, is the one before him. There, you have to verse a mirror image of yourself, two if there are two players. They know all yours moves, plus they can duck just like normal enemies. But perhaps I’ve said too much…

The sound effects for this game are fairly limited, as every impact is accentuated by a scrap sound, and every big hit is announced by what sounds like a two-by-four splintering. Plus, every door, even the most simple, hinged, wooden door, gives off a loud humming sound when it opens.

The music is not too shabby either. Each level has its own little ditty, plus a boss theme at the end. It is an improvement from the first, but it isn’t a huge one.

In summation, I feel that Double Dragon II best represents the entire series. It has the easiest, yet most impressive fighting. It holds on to all those crazy impact noises. Plus, it touches you first and foremost that if you kill a man with your bare hands, his body will simply disappear. I only wish I had known that in Kindergarten.

Best Cheats: Extra lives (single player only) - To start your game with eight lives instead of the usual four, just start the game in two player mode B. Then, beat the other player to death until all their lives are gone. Each time you kill the other one, his life will be transferred to you.

Game Play: 10
Graphics: 8
Music/Sound: 8
Originality: 9
Overall Rating: 9

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