DOUBLE DRAGON 2 / Technos / Arcade

The first Double Dragon was one of the biggest things to ever hit arcades. The second game was, relatively speaking, barely noticed and even kind of hard to find, at least here in America. Initially, this seems inexplicable - the second game has an increased move set, faster and smoother fighting, and the same general style that made the first game a blockbuster arcade attraction. Once you play it a little bit, however, you see what the problem is - Technos got way too greedy with it, making it vastly over-difficult and packed with nearly-unavoidable cheap hits in an attempt to mercilessly drain your pocket of as much cash as possible. And apparently players - who were often quite capable of getting through the original game on a single quarter - didn't feel like taking that shit.

The game opens almost identically to the first one, though Machine Gun Willy doesn't even bother with trying to raep Marian this time, he just guns her down coldly outside the Dragon brothers' garage, which is now inexplicably located in an airstrip. Calling the level design "uninspired" is generous; after clearing the opening airstrip level, you largely re-tread the same terrain the first game took you through, with the exception of the forest level being replaced by some rural town where unmanned wheat threshers periodically come to life in Carrie style and take a run at you.

The sprites are a little bigger, a lot more articulated, and in general the game looks pretty good for the time. The fighting action is smoother and you have more moves at your disposal; the iconic jumping tornado kick makes its first appearance here, as well as a modified low jump kick and a knee to the balls up close. The range of regular punches and kicks has been expanded as well, so they aren't as entirely useless as they were in the first game (the backward elbow that most people spammed to get through the first game has also been toned down in damage, and there's a few enemies it never works on.) Sloppy programming makes the game slow down drastically every time more than two characters are on the screen at once, however, which is most of the time; you'll get adjusted to a somewhat sludgy pace, only to suddenly have the game go into turbo mode when you clear out a crowd of hooligans.

The difficulty - and the cheap hits - are the real issue. The default setting of the game gives you all of one life and the ability to take four, maybe five good hits before you die. The regular enemies aren't overly bad, at least not until you get to the Chinese stick-fighting dudes who constantly spam a Sweep The Leg manuever that out-ranges everything in your arsenal. The bosses are the main problem - they always seem to have a much greater range and hit priority than you do, virtually forcing you to feed quarters to the machine to brute your way by them. There's also a number of cheesy "stuff pops out of the background at you" moments like the wheat threshers, where dodging/jumping requires such incredible precision that it's next to impossible to actually pull off consistently.

The game has great tunes and was the last of the Double Dragon games on any platform to keep the style and format of the original game, but it's just too clunky and cheap to be enjoyable. Outdated and better left in the past.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video