Game Review: Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NES)

They say a man who desires revenge should dig two graves. In case of Double Dragon II: The Revenge, there will be countless more graves to dig.

From the moment I punched my first opponent in Double Dragon II, I knew I had a true gem in my possession. While many people consider the first game the best in the series, this one stuck with me the most. This probably had to do with the fact that I had a very memorable time with the included option to play with a buddy, an option that was lacking in the first game.

Unfortunately I don’t own a NES anymore but the ability to play it on PC through an emulator was a great chance to experience this awesome title once more. Now, more than 20 years later, I feel it’s about time I take a closer look at one of the games that defined my childhood and write an article about what it is exactly that made this game into one of the best beat-em-ups of the NES library.

The story, as the subtitle implies, is all about revenge. The two brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee are on a mission to avenge the death of Marian, Billy’s girlfriend. Marian was killed by the hand of the Shadow Warriors. As with most NES titles, the story is fairly simple. It is something I can live with. After all, revenge isn’t very often a complex matter.

There’s an interesting enemy roster and some of them have quite some neat tricks up their sleeves that will keep you busy. Luckily, you can pick up some of their weapons and turn the tables on them.

The game looks very slick, colorful and has a great set of different levels with rather unique locations You start off fighting scum in their own territory only to end up in a flying chopper, a forest, a temple and a haunted mansion, just to name a few. Each level comes with it’s own challenges and platforming sections.

Now about that platforming… it can be fun at times but also very frustrating. The controls are a little bit too clunky and jumping isn’t very precise, causing me to lose quite a few lives because I kept missing jumps and ended up drowning of falling to my death. You start the game with 3 lives but if you’re having a hard time with some platforming sections, there’s a way to increase that number. If you’re going solo, all you have to do is start a 2-player game with “friendly fire” enabled and kill your brother. His lives will transfer to you. Is it cheating? Technically not. Is it honorable? Definitely not!

The soundtrack for me personally is one of the most memorable of all the NES games I played, especially the final boss battle. Truly epic, that’s all I can say. It still amazes me that they were able to produce such awesomeness with limited resources.

My recent journey back into the world of Double Dragon II left a smile on my face and I definitely remembered the great (and not so great) moments I experienced when I was younger. I have no idea why I waited this long to play this wonderful game again but you know what they say, revenge is a dish best served cold.

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