Many years ago, when I still didn't have my own NES since my parents were cold-hearted
Nazis from a demon netherworld, I had to rely on a friend to play exciting games on those rainy or sunny afternoons. One of the most awesome games he had was Double Dragon II. Walk around playing together, at the same time, beating up baddies and bosses on the road to revenge. Playing "Game A" you could play team-style, helping the other once he's pressed into a corner. More interesting was "Game B", where you could actually hurt your teammate. Naturally any "B" game ended up with you and your friend kicking the crap out of each other. An arsenal of deadly moves allowed loads of manners to beat up your foes. A variety of kicks, punches, special jump kicks and grappling moves, not to mention the ability to pick up and use certain weapons your enemies dropped. Few things are more satisfying than landing the oddly named "High Jump Kick" (which was really more of a Super Knee Kick) against a boss and sending him hurtling off a ledge. This is the game that someone chose to make a "Blood Hack" out of... sort of.
Nothing on the start screen reveals that this is a Blood Hack, but that doesn't say anything... I'm sure it's on purpose to shock you more when the gore suddenly kicks in. Time to recap the storyline of DD2.
You've got your martial arts-expert twin brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee. Billy is significantly more successful with the ladies than his brother, because he has a girlfriend named Marion. Too bad for him that the Lee brothers happen to be the famous Double Dragons, because the nefarious Black Shadow Warriors don't seem to like competition, and thus killed Marion. Don't question why they didn't kill the Lee brothers instead. Videogame bosses always want the heroes to come to them.
When selecting a 1-player game I always cheated... in the manner that I selected a two-player Game B with the intent to steal all my teammate's lives. Hey, it's a sure way to survive long enough to meet the last boss... And DD2 has plenty of those 'die-three-times-in-a-row' spots. So, time to get re-aquainted with the Lee brothers in this "Blood Hack"...
Holy shit! Can you believe this? The guy took off Billy and Jimmy's heads and replaced them with what appears to be bloody stumps! Too bad he wasn't very thorough, because the heads seem to pop back up during certain moves. Well, no time to dwell on all this bloodshed, because enemies are advancing... Steal Jimmy's lives and continue on your own!
What the... apparently, our rom hacker got bored halfway through, because little bloodiness has happened to the street punk characters... unless you would count the mangling of their hairdo. They appear to have been turned into Keith Flint from the group Prodigy. Does this serve to the good of this hack? I can't really tell.
A little further, I'm relieved to find that the thug characters have undergone the same treatment as Billy and Jimmy. On the other hand, this leads me to the conclusion that this hacker was extremely lazy. He didn't add any graphics to this game, he only removed some - and doing that, he wasn't even thorough enough to do it properly. Alright, the one thing he added is more red pixels to some characters, but I'm not going to applaud him for that.
...and the female punk characters, who I used to just call "bitches", are no different. Head removed in a number of (but not all) frames, and more red pixels to simulate blood. I'm starting to realize that this is a very, very poorly made hack.
Luckily, I soon meet up with my favorite character from the game - let's name him "Helmet Man". This mofo dons a weird metal helmet and, despite his obesity, deals fast punches like you wouldn't believe. Aside from that he has a kick-ass move in which he grabs you by the head and punches you in the stomach three times. But the real fun begins once you've dealt him with enough punishment... he spreads his arms and disappears. The single most exciting moment in the entire game. All that remains is his helmet... and just when you think you've gotten him, he re-appears to deal you more pain. After a second clobbering he vanishes again, this time taking his helmet with him... Now, why wasn't this guy the final boss of the game? Oh well. On we go.
You then pursue the Black Shadow warriors over rooftops, ending up at a helicopter landing platform. After beating up more thugs, you meet with a surprise attack from characters which are nearly a match for Helmet Man's coolness... the ninjas. These guys move and jump with blinding speed, toss knives and ninja stars and do awesome backflips. First time you meet them is guaranteed panic. Their weakness is that they'll run right into your Spinning Cyclone kick, so you can beat them off and grab hold of the chopper for an interesting new stage.
In the chopper you're in for another nice surprise - the door opens every now and then, causing you and your enemies to be sucked outside. Luckily, there's another way to cheat so that enemies are sucked out and you aren't. When you pause the game, the timer that sets off the door runs through. So when you're being sucked outside, pause the game for a moment and continue - and when an enemy's close to the door while it's closed, insert a pause to cause him to fall to his death. Notice that the brass knuckle-sporting guys have also had their heads removed... astonishing.
Time to meet the chopper boss. As you may have noticed, the DD2 characters are not named in the manual and therefore receive whatever names I make up for them. We'll call this one Blank Man, as he has an eerie blank stare in his eyes that would suit a psychopath. Too bad that the hacker removed his head as well (neglecting to put bloody pixels in its place this time), so he's just Man now. Man can either punch or kick you, and when you come close enough he'll even grab you and toss you over his head. Which can be very dangerous in a game full of ledges. Once you've beaten Man the first time (by tossing him out of the chopper... the easiest way), another will emerge from the cockpit (how many people fit in there anyway?) to kick your ass. The next moment, you land on a hidden island with an elevator to an undersea base.
In the undersea base you soon meet another boss character - it appears to be Tin Tin. Tin Tin got a tan tan and took up Tae Bo to gain a more muscular physique, but aside from some heavy-duty punches he's relatively harmless. Take him out with some Hyper Uppercuts and be on your way.
You then find your way blocked by razor-sharp claws on arms that extend from the ceiling. Rarely you'll get through unscathed - most likely you will be slashed two or three times at least, losing one unit of health every time. Hate those things.
Somehow your journey brings you into a dark forest where more thugs and bitches try to end your life. The real problems begin when you're forced to cross a river by jumping on logs. Everyone knows that you die when you jump in water, so this is a sure way to lose another two or three lives every time. What? Yeah, only in video games, duh. What did I say?
Pressing on across the river I'm disappointed to find that the thug characters got their heads back. Apparently there's two different kinds of sprite sets for this character, but the hacker thought you wouldn't keep this game on long enough to find out. Screw you, deadbeat! Well,
After a battle with two more Man characters who are eager to toss you off a cliff, and a couple of swordfighters you end up in a part of the game that makes very little sense.
A giant bulldozer rages at you. You're supposed to leap on it, avoid the smoke (we all know exhaust gases are very lethal), reach the top and thereby cause the bulldozer to stop. Then characters start emerging from the control cabin... uh-huh.
After that, things start to make more sense again. You find yourself in the Palace of Evil, which is littered with traps and hard-to-make jumps. After a long and hard road past enemies and nailbeds, an armada of bosses and the return of Helmet Man, you end up at the second coolest confrontation of the game - the Double Illusion.
That's right, you face a copy of yourself in purple hue, with all your abilities and moves, plus a few extra! This guy can toss energy balls at you and vanish only to take over your body and hurt you with a few punches. The only way to avoid this is jumping a lot. This battle is even better in a two-player game, as you'll have your characters fighting two shadow copies. Once you have this menace defeated you're in for a big surprise...
Marion, standing apparently alive in some arena. Naturally you rush over to grab her and ravish her like an animal, but then she disappears - and the true, final boss shows up.
I'll never understand why green hair on boss characters appears to be such a fad in these types of games. Either way, you're up against some guy in drag who of course moves fast, has high-damage attacks and can make himself invisible. Deal him enough damage and the scenery changes into a throne room of sorts. You've significantly weakened the boss, because he can no longer become invisible - which is very relieving. One thing that's cool is that, in the pre-fight story scene, there's a different picture and text when you happen to have made the end as Jimmy instead of Billy. Well, time to kick this guy's ass for the last time.
With the final kick or punch, the screen flashes and the boss falls to the floor in a slowmo scene that's a match for the Matrix' special effects... well, no. But it's nice to see after all that work. Accompanied by some nice pictures, the story ending commences... the boss mumbles some shit that nobody cares about and chokes on his own blood. Well, the revenge is fulfilled, this is the late 80s, so we couldn't do without a happy end...
Yup, Marion's alive and well.
Well, that's the end to yet another pathetic hack of a classic game. Good thing this game is perfect for getting rid of pent-up frustration, as hacks like these leave me with some. One more thing about Double Dragon II itself bothers me though - it has to do with the manual. We all know that Billy Lee dresses in blue and Jimmy Lee dresses in red...
...so what exactly is Jimmy doing holding Marion like that?
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