We’re continuing our look at beat-em-up games in honor of Adamant Ditto’s Beat-em-up month: the Revengance. Let’s take another look at one of the series that helped popularize the genre with Double Dragon 2: The Revenge (that sounds familiar) for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
There are a lot of changes between Double Dragon 1 and 2 on NES. First off, you’ll notice that in Double Dragon 2 you can play as both Billy and Jimmy Lee, which is confusing since Jimmy was the main antagonist in the first NES game. Double Dragon 2 is a lot more of a straight port, while a lot where a lot of things were changed in the first game. (This might be a result of Acclaim and Technos now handling this instead of Tradewest.) Jimmy becoming a good guy might have been necessary anyways, since you can now play 2 players simultaneously, a big plus on this game over its predecessor. However, this comes at the cost of the leveling up system and though it doesn’t really hinder this game (since you still have all the skills), I do miss it.
One more change I have to mention is the controls: B and A now do the same thing, but in different directions. If you’re facing to the left and press B, you’ll do a regular punch to the left, but if you press A you’ll do a kick towards the right (and vice versa). This can be a good way to prevent enemies from sneaking up on you, but it is odd to have to keep remembering to switch buttons so you don’t start kicking air.
The graphics are weird, as it looks like they were trying too hard. I think “Rob Leifeld like” best describes it: the characters have tiny heads when compared to their massive arms and chests. They got weird bumps all over their bodies, so it’s funny to see them walk on such relatively tiny feet. And that’s the last thing I really have to say about Double Dragon 2, otherwise I think I’d be explaining obvious things, like you beat people up in this beat ‘em up. So, how about I move on to a related game? Here’s Renegade for the NES.
Guru Larry does a better job at explaining how Renegade and Double Dragon are related in his review of it, but basically Renegade could be considered Double Dragon’s father, while the Kunio-Kun series would be the mother. The first Kunio-Kun game was released in May of 1986 in Japan, but when Taito got the western distribution rights, they decided to make a few changes (mostly re-skinning the game) and called it “Renegade”. Technos apparently liked “Renegade” and decided to combine elements from both versions, and so Double Dragon was born.
It’s important to note that Renegade came before a lot of beat-em-ups because it doesn’t seem that impressive. Don’t get me wrong, the game is still fun, but it’s very restrained: you mostly stick to side streets and just punch regular people. The game is also hurt by the fact that the multiplayer is turn style and it also uses the “B attacks left, A right” control scheme. Punching is still satisfying, but a lot of enemies can break your combos and get in cheap hits easily.
The graphics are kind of bad. A lot of backgrounds look flat and most people are really oddly shaped, making their animation frames look weird. However, the music is really good. For most tracks, the rhythm is really up-beat and lets you know to have fun. This might have to do with the fact that this game was possibly inspired by the 1979 movie “The Warriors”, and some of the music from that sound track could easily be compared to the tracks in Renegade.