I love beat em ups. They have always been one of my favorite genres since I was little. I’m not sure why but I’ve always loved mindlessly beating the crap out of tons of enemies. Almost relaxing. Perhaps I have some weird anger issues but that’s beside the point. When I found there was a version of Double Dragon 2 for the PC-Engine CD I knew I had to play it. I absolutely love the NES version and upon playing, I discovered this version is based off of the NES release. Only a lot better.
Now before you come at me with pitchforks, as I stated I love the NES version. It was the version I grew up with, the one I mastered. The reason I say the PC-E CD is better is because of the controls. They are so much smoother than on the NES. You can actually clear the platforming parts with ease. I lost so many lives on the NES Double Dragon 2. Those conveyor belts were damn near impossible. You had to be precise. Not here thankfully, they fixed those issues. I didn’t lose one life on any platforming part.
Of course the graphics are much better than the NES version, but that doesn’t really mean squat. We retro and smart folks know graphics don’t make the game. But they are nice to look at and this version gets points for that. The music is completely different from what we know and love on the NES. Instead you get CD quality early 90’s rap. If you grew up back then it’ll put a smile on your face. It’s not horrible, it’s more funny than anything and I enjoyed it. I’m sure you could find some of the music on YouTube if you’re curious.
Other than that it remains basically the same. game. The controls other than being smoother are the same as the NES. When you face right button 1 punches and button 2 kicks behind you. If you’re facing left the buttons are reversed. Pressing both buttons at the same time lets you jump and perform various jump kicks. The type of kick seemed random. I couldn’t figure out how to perform each individual kick. The sound effects deliver and are on point. You feel like a badass punching baddies in the face hearing those action movie sound effects.
There are also fully animated cutscenes between each stage. While the dialogue is all in Japanese it’s pretty easy to understand what is going on. It seems to follow the same Double Dragon plot: Maria got kidnapped and must be rescued. I’m not sure if you have to fight your brother to the death in this version. I didn’t have a friend to play with sadly. I played the game on easy and surprisingly it lets you play through the whole game. It doesn’t stop you and tell you to raise the difficulty after a couple of levels, which was pretty awesome. Be sure to raise your lives and continues in the options as well!
Overall, if you enjoyed the NES version be sure to give this a try. The PC-E CD version brings everything you love about the NES version (other than the music) and improves it. The controls are so much smoother, I honestly can’t get over it. All those years of playing on the NES and then playing on this…it’s just amazing. Even if you haven’t played Double Dragon 2 but love beat em ups you need to give this a try. It’s a shame and honestly baffling why this version never made it outside of Japan. At least there are ways to play it today. My the times we live in!
- Nice big colorful sprites
- Early 90’s rap music
- Smoother controls compared to the NES version
- Nice Anime cutscenes
- Platforming areas are much easier to do than on the NES