When Double Dragon first hit the arcade scene back in 1987, it was immediately lauded for its intense beat 'em up gameplay and slick visuals and soundtrack. After making pit stops on a number of platforms, the NES included, the game only grew in popularity. So it was only natural that a sequel, Double Dragon II: The Revenge would come along. And while many die-hard NES fans will still claim the original was the best, its sequel has some solid additions too.
Since Double Dragon II is still basically a beat 'em up, you're still going to spend the majority of your time taking down a never-ending barrage of enemy fighters bent on knocking your block off. But unlike the original Double Dragon, the controls have been tweaked a bit to make close quarter combat a bit more fair and balanced this time around. Now when you press the "A" or "B" buttons, your fighter will kick in that particular direction of the screen, allowing you to pull off some killer combos and at the same time be better prepared for those times when you're under attack from both the front and behind. Performing a jump or special move, depending on your proximity to enemies, is as easy as pressing both buttons simultaneously.
Whereas the original NES port only entertained a single player, the follow-up lets two players fight side by side in either cooperative or competitive play. Two friends playing as a Lee brother each is still some of the best co-op fun the 8-bit days had to offer, and a marked improvement over the original port.
Even though we're talking about 8-bit NES visuals, there's a lot to be said about the attention to detail afforded the various scenery and characters in the game. Not only are the backdrops extremely details and colourful, the characters are equally well-designed and animated as well.
Double Dragon II basically takes everything that was great about the original title and then adds in a few much-needed fixes. The gameplay is smoother and less cheap and there's quite a bit more variety in not only how the gameplay functions, but also the visual and musical presentations. The game is a tad bit easy, but considering it's still so much fun, it's a small gripe. It's basically a no-brainer for fans of Double Dragon to pick this title up and if for some reason you've never been a fan of the series, this Virtual Console release could very well change that.