Double Dragon 2 is a beat-em up / brawling game starring Billy and Jimmy Lee as they brawl their way through waves of gang members to avenge the death of Marian. The two use their fists, feet, spinning tornado kicks and weapons like whips, barrels, bats, grenades and knives. You start with all of the moves unlike the original game and there is also a two player cooperative mode that was sorely missing from the first game. Double Dragon 2 took everything fun about the previous game, amplified it, added some good challenge, more characters and better graphics.
The game controls somewhat differently than the previous. One button is for a right attack and the other is for a left attack. If an enemy is behind you on the left and you hit the B button, you’ll kick the enemy. If you’re facing left and the enemy is on the left, you’ll punch them. Its an uncommon control scheme, but its better for when you are pinched by enemies. It just takes less time than pushing one direction and then attacking. Now you can just attack.
The enemies are more interesting than the original. You’ll see enemies cartwheel. They have different attacks and there are even a variety of big bosses. There is a teleporting boss that wears a welder’s mask. A giant blonde commando and even what looks like Abbobo with a wig that you’ll fight in a helicopter. You’ll even face off against a pair of ninjas that flip around and throw stars in your direction. While these bosses appear a few times, they’re interesting.
If you want to jump, you’ll press both buttons at the same time. You’ll need to master jumping if you want to make it through the entire game. At some point you’ll be jumping across rivers which is easy enough. Later on you’ll need to jump gaps on moving gears or convener belts over spikes all while timing it so you don’t get hit by falling spikes. There are different jumping moves too, such as a flying knee and a hurricane kick. The flying knee lands in a crouched position, which matters when you land at the end of a convener belt, it takes that extra split second to stand.
Between the action, you’re greeted with short NES style cut scenes with great over the top photos. These cut scenes definitely help break up the game, and they do feel like a reward.
The action goes all over the place in this game to keep it fresh and interesting. You will climb up ladders, jump down steps, leap across rivers. You’ll ride across the treads of a bulldozer that spawns enemies, its all insane fun.
A real joy to the game is its diverse array of settings and different areas. The first place is a construction site that turns from 3D area to a 2D side scroller as you climb the building. The 2D feels better for platforming, while the 3D lets you dodge enemies better. It prevents you from being pinched by two foes.
The second level is completely 2D as you brawl your way across rooftops to a helipad. You can always kick, punch and even throw enemies off buildings, just as you can, so you’ll need to be careful here. Each of the levels presents new enemies and bosses that really make for an enjoyable game that feels fresher than the original.
There’s a brief third area that takes place completely inside of a helicopter. The pilot door opens up to let in more enemies for you to fight, while the exit door opens. When that door opens everything gets pulled toward the exit and potentially sucked out into the night sky.
The forth level is a dangerous and challenging underwater fortress. After brawling your way in, the game turns 2D again and with a spiked ceiling, every jump lands you back on the floor. You can still throw enemies up into the spikes. Its all a lot of fun, even if it keeps you from jumping. The lack of jump does add to the challenge though and this fortress might be brief, but it also uses traps.
While I could cover all of the levels, you should play them for yourself. The final level turns into a real pain when it comes to platforming. Think gears, death spikes and falling ceiling spikes. If you want to complete the full game, you’ll need to take on the toughest of the three difficulties. After a few times through the game, you’ll be ready for it!
Double Dragon 2 is a great game to play with a friend with 2 player mode A where you can’t hurt one another and its even more challenging with 2 player mode B where the players can injure each other. This game is a classic and either the #1 or #2 game of the franchise. Probably one of the top 3 beat-em ups for the NES in general.