There are a huge amount of beat-em-ups in both the NES and SNES libraries. So many in fact that even some of the better titles can feel somewhat boring due to the sheer number of them there is to play. For me, it was never my favorite genre either so maybe I find them a bit harder to get into. Double Dragon II: The Revenge is one of the better known beat-em-ups on the NES and is another title featured on the NES Classic Mini which I highly recommend as the majority of the titles are fantastic. Originally an arcade game, this is not actually port and is more it’s own game but features the same storyline wherein the heroes Billy and Jimmy Lee seek revenge for the death of Billy’s girlfriend at the hand of the Black Warriors who are the main antagonists in the game. Pretty standard stuff really, but Technos Japan developed the title and I’ve had some good experiences with them so far, so fingers crossed this game has something special about it.
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect from a beat-em-up from this era with a limited amount of enemies taking to the screen at a time and usually all of the same variety, due to the system limitations. There’s a good variety of moves available to take the Black Warriors down with including the ability to punch normally, uppercut, throw enemies, jump kick and best of all the gravity defying spin kick in the air where you hover for a short time. There was another move I couldn’t quite get to grips with where you can make your character leap knee first at the opponents which always seemed to do a much larger amount of damage than your standard attacks. Alongside this you can pick up enemies weapons to use against but these disappear after defeating that particular type of enemy, again due to limitations. Some of the enemies use bombs to throw at you or occasionally drop them upon death and these can be thrown back at other enemies or the remain foes can be lured towards these and defeated quickly by the fallen comrades weapon which is always particularly satisfying. The only real issues I had with the gameplay is that jumping is awkward and the potential for the game to get stuck in a loop when taking on enemies. A good example of this was during one level I was thrown overhead down a drop which caused instant death by an enemy and every time I respawned he would instantly do the same thing with seemingly obvious way to retaliate, resulting in a game over.
The game is visually quite nice to look at and although not as pleasing to the eye as Street Gangs to me, I still think it has a great look. As has come up previously there is only so much that can be done with the NES in terms of visuals but Technos have done a lot to make the game appealing. The sprites are varied and although you only get to fight one type of enemy at a time they all feel unique and well designed with a different attack for each character. The bosses are all designed well and feel like more of a challenge than the regular foes and look more impressive too. They have done a brilliant job with the music as well with every track being catchy. It’s always important in a game where you have the potential to need to replay levels multiple times that the music doesn’t feel repetitive or boring and in my whole time playing through I never found the music to be anything but fitting and enjoyable.
Overall I would definitely recommend this game and it’s a great way to kill some time and the two-player optional mode only makes the experience better with the downside being some slowdown issues and a generally easier game, The game can at times feel a little frustrating and unfair when you get caught in a bad loop with enemy attacks, but at the same time you can exploit similar tactics so it’s a minor gripe replay. The only other real issue is that the plot is thin but that’s not the primary function of the genre and the gameplay is generally so fun and oddly addictive that it won’t make enough of a difference to the overall experience and isn’t enough of a reason to not try this game out.