Double Dragon II


Review by Matt Paprocki

Pal Soft


Graphics: 9

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


After the huge success of Double Dragon in the arcades, plenty of companies stepped up to deliver multiple home versions of a game that would go down in history as classic. Not so many were quick to jump on the sequel. In the US, only one system would get a port, the NES. Overseas, the Turbo Duo and Megadrive would both get wildly different versions of the game, both better than the actual arcade game.

There's surprisingly little difference between this Megadrive port and the game it has been ported from. The level layout is the same, save for a small excursion in level two that takes players up and over a section. The intro in which Marion meets her fate is exactly duplicated as is the Dragon's move set. Same goes for the somewhat disorienting control scheme (which requires to press a button corresponding to the direction they are facing).

This is a short title, one that is basically a carbon copy of the original. In the arcades, it was unbearable mess due to intolerable slowdown that ruined the entire experience. Here on the Megadrive, things perform flawlessly. Even with two players slugging it out against the seemingly endless stream of enemies, slowdown is not a problem. Only when advancing to a new screen does the game need a moment to think and then it's not a problem that affects gameplay.

Though it was an issue in the arcades, here it's a slightly bigger one. Players are forced to walk almost to the extreme edge of screen to advance. Stage two in particular has some pitfalls that cannot be seen until the very last second not to mention a somewhat annoying conveyor belt segment. This should have been fixed.

Screen size has been cut a bit here, but it allows for a near carbon copy of the arcade games graphics. Sprites are a bit smaller and a little pixilated, but it's a fair trade for faster gameplay and lack of flicker. A few background details are missing (helicopters in stage one, Willy's platform in the finale), yet this is a bit more intense than the arcade game so you don't have much time to notice.

Along with that comes the disappointing soundtrack. Here it's a bigger focus, coming in front of the sound effects instead of behind them. It's making up for what is a much weaker sound chip compared to the arcade and in the end, it sounds more tolerable. Beyond the title theme though, there's little to remember about the music.

Ok, try and follow this. The Megadrive version of Double Dragon II is the best arcade version, beyond the arcade version itself. The NES and Turbo Duo versions are wild variations, but excellent in their own right. The Duo wins out overall. Basically, if you want to play the arcade game, stick with the Megadrive. If you want the best Double Dragon II, head for the Duo.

Note: The Game Boy version doesn't even come close to following the arcade game. It's slow, boring, and uneventful. Stay away.


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Last updated: Friday, September 23, 2005 11:49 PM