By Johnny Undaunted
Double Dragon II for the PC Engine is the latest version of the original sequel to Double Dragon. It was released around 1993 and produced by PC Engine developer Naxat Soft (who did several Kunio-kun games for the PC Engine in Hu-card Super CD-Rom formats). The PCE version takes place in the year 2000. A nuclear strike has left New York City in disaster and law and order have taken a backseat to crime and violence. One of the most powerful crime syndicate in New York is called the Gen-Satsu-Ken (originally the Shadow Warriors), a mysterious organization led by a mysterious warrior who is a master in a wicked style of Kung Fu. However two young men named Billy and Jimmy, masters of a martial art called the Sou-Setsu-Ken, were brave enough to challenge them. One day, during a Gen-Satsu-Ken attack, Billy's girlfriend, Marian, is murdered by the Gen-Satsu-Ken. Billy and Jimmy swore revenge by taking down the Gen-Satsu-Ken once and for all. The game itself is a port of the NES/Famicom version, but has features from the arcade game as well. The cut-scenes have voice-overs and are done in an anime-style format.
Most of the backgrounds are a huge improvement over the NES and arcade versions. Most of the character designs are also well-done, but I think Naxat Soft could have done a better job. The cut-scenes are good, but they could have been animated better in my opinion. At least it's better than that god-awful American Double Dragon cartoon. The life bar is the same one used in the arcade version. The stages are mostly the same as their counterparts from the NES version, but some levels are shorter while others have extra scenes (Mission 5 has a new elevator scene).
The music in this game is awesome, even if most of it is different from the NES/arcade version. The soundtrack mostly consists of tecno-style and is done in Redbook audio, which is a good thing, since you can listen to it anywhere. Mission 9 is a remixed version of the last boss theme in the NES version. The sound effects are the usual punch/kick effects we hear from other games.
This version of DD II combines enemies from the arcade and NES versions. We have the usual henchmen (Williams, Roper and Linda), each of them with a signature move. Then we have Bolo, the tall guy who likes to throw you; Burnov, the big fat guy with a mask; Abore, the Arnold-look-alike and Chin Taimei, the Chinese fighter with two tonfa sticks. Making an appearance is Big Boss Willy (who was noticeably absent in the NES version), the evil clone and the Mysterious Warrior from the NES version, who is actually a bit easier to defeat in this version. My only gripe is that some of the enemies from the NES and arcade version like Abobo, Jeff and that Ninja Warrior are missing in this version, even though their sprites are included in the game's sprite view mode.
The weapons consist of steel balls, ball and chains, knives, grenades and shovels. The difference between this and the NES version is that you can carry a weapon from one fight to another, a definite plus.
Controls and Moves: A+
This is where the PC Engine version of Double Dragon II really shines. The game play is ten times faster than either the arcade or NES version of DD II. While the basic controls are the same as the NES version, everything runs smoother and faster.
Three play modes and difficulty levels. The three play modes are: 1P Play, 2P Play A and 2P Play B. You can play the whole game in all three difficulty levels (just like the Japanese Famicom version), except that the difficulty level affects the ending of the game. You can also select the total numbers of lives and credits, but this feature makes the game a bit easy.
The PC Engine version of Double Dragon II is just as good, if not better, than the NES version. Even if you don't own a PC Engine, you can always play the game on your computer with an emulator like Magic Engine.