Format reviewed: Game Boy
Developer: Technos Japan
Submitted by: Hereward Proops
Now this is an interesting one… Whilst the NES sequel to Double Dragon largely stuck to the plot of the arcade machine, Gameboy owners were treated to a very different experience. Double Dragon 2 on the Gameboy is set after the events of Double Dragon 2: The Revenge and sees Billy Lee accused of a crime he didn't commit and going up against a gang called the Scorpions.
The game is essentially a port of Japanese title Nekketsu Koha Kunio Kun: Bangai Ranto Hen with a graphical facelift. Billy and Jimmy Lee look similar to their previous incarnations but the bosses stand out as being very different to those seen in other DD games, in particular the chainsaw-wielding Jason Vorhees-alike.
Most side-scrolling beat 'em ups either sink or swim on the range of moves. Double Dragon 2 has a decent enough set but bizarrely omits a horizontal jump kick. This can make a lot of the combat feel curiously static. However, the addition of a rising uppercut and a brutal ground attack (jumping on your fallen opponents) go some way to redressing the balance.
Compared to the combat in the original Double Dragon, the game moves as fluidly but lacks the same level of difficulty. Once players have figured out a decent combo (one kick, grab, two face-smashes, throw, ground stomp) most opponents can be dispatched with ease. Only a handful of the bosses are likely to cause you any harm and most lives are lost when being knocked off the platform in the subway levels. Unlike the previous game, you are unable to pick up any of the weapons held by your opponents and this is a big loss – imagine how cool it would be to pick up the chainsaw and turn it against the boss!
Side-scrolling beat 'em ups are rarely particularly deep games and Double Dragon 2 is no exception. Despite it's low level of difficulty, it does offer a shortened easy mode and a hard mode for those in search of more of a challenge. Aside from a few subway rides and a couple of trips in a lift, there's not a huge variety to the levels. A two player mode is available which will add a little to the games longevity. Although not as great a sequel as NES owners were treated to, it stands out as one of the more curious additions in Technos' popular franchise.