By Johnny Undaunted
With the huge success of Double Dragon at the arcades and the popularity of the home versions, a sequel was inevitable. Double Dragon II came a year later after the original arcade hit. The arcade version came first (which was released in America by Technos itself, not Taito) and then Technos' 8-bit Famicom/NES version (which was released worldwide by Acclaim instead of Tradewest). Both of them have their similarities, but they're diverse enough to be considered two different games on their own.
In the arcade version, Marian is murdered by Big Boss Willy right in the very beginning. As either Billy or Jimmy Lee, you're on a quest to avenge your lost girlfriend. This time you're out to take no prisoners. However, the Lee brothers' greatest enemy won't be Willy, but themselves.
While the game's sprites are mostly recycled from the original, DD II has a much cleaner look than the original. Everything is more colorful. All of the characters are redesigned one way or another. Billy, Jimmy, Willie and Marian are given new palettes (Marian in particular has a much nicer and younger-looking face than she does in the original, too bad she dies in the beginning). Jeff is the only one of the regular enemies left. Williams, Roper, Linda, Abobo and Bolo are given total makeover with their heads. Most of the older characters are given new frames of animation too. The new bosses are huge and well-designed, except the second boss (Abore), who looks like a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hank Hill (from Fox's King of the Hill); he has a much better look in the home versions. My real gripe is that some of the backgrounds lack the detail that the original DD had, although some stages look better too.
A huge improvement over the original Double Dragon. All the characters have their own individual grunts and yells. The sound effects are much better and louder too (Willie's gun sounds like a real machine gun). The new music fits pretty well with each mission's theme and each boss (including Willy) has his own awesome theme music. Overall, an improvement over DD I.
All the enemies from DD I appear in this sequel. While some of them have new weapons and attacks, they're all the pretty much the same as they were in the original. However, each of the four missions has a new boss. The first mission has Burnov, a fat slob who wears a mask. He's not very skillful, but he grabs you by the hair and punches you several times in the face. Abore, the second boss, is a sunglass-wearing giant with suspenders. His attacks are very damaging, but he is incredibly slow. Chin Taimei is the third boss. He now wields two Kali sticks that allow him to quickly drain your energy. After defeating Willy, who is much tougher in this installment, you'll fight an evil shadow version of your character, except he can throw fireballs and posses people from the inside. The enemy AI has increased since the last game, so that they can't be fooled by the elbow smash.
The same weapons from DD I, except they just have different graphics. The baseball bat has been changed to a shovel (carried by Williams and Roper). Whips are now ball and chains (carried by Linda). Knives are still knives (now carried by Williams and Linda). The oil drums, cardboard box and rocks have been replaced by a wooden box, steel ball and logs (all used by Roper, Abobo and Bolo). The dynamite has been replaced by the more useful hand-grenade (carried by Linda and Jeff), which explodes on contact.
Controls and Moves: A
The controls are generally similar to those in DD I, but there are still many differences. The punch/kick scheme has been replaced by the Renegade-style left attack/right attack control scheme. While your character is facing right, right attack does a punch and left attack does a back kick (and vice versa). The elbow smash is still here and is done in a similar way, but there is a new jumping sidekick move by pressing jump and the button of the direction you're facing. Some people don't like this control scheme at all, but I think it's not bad (it takes some getting used to though). The head butt has been removed and a cyclone kick was added. The cyclone kick takes some timing to pull off, but it does great damage. The game play in general is much faster-paced than the original.
Again, no modes besides one or two players. However, unlike the first game, you can't gain extra lives during the middle of the game, which is another reason why it is so hard.
Double Dragon II is basically an enhanced remake of the original instead of a full sequel. Some may argue whether the NES version is better or not. Personally, I prefer the NES version (it's the more complete of the two), but this one is not half bad.