Double Dragon II for PC Engine Super CD/Turbografx
Naxat Soft’s PC Engine version of Double Dragon II is based on the NES DDII instead of the arcade game. Yet it takes so many liberties as to feel unique. Like the 8-bit Nintendo version, Billy and Jimmy still take a ride in a helicopter (and even visit the cockpit here), and there are some challenging platforming sequences and disappearing floors later in the game’s 10 levels. You have to press both attack buttons simultaneously to jump in this one, making the jumping bits that much tougher.
More screenshots of this version here.
Being a CD game, this version features fully-voiced story scenes between each level. These sequences give the game a very eighties-anime feel, and I love them. Depending on the difficulty level, you’ll receive one of three different endings, too. The redbook audio soundtrack during gameplay is all-new (except for the final boss theme) and mostly wonderful. No less than three versions of the classic Double Dragon theme appear during the intro and ending, the credits version sounding especially beautiful.
The graphics during gameplay beat the Mega Drive version’s, hands-down. The backgrounds lack depth like most Turbografx games but they show a lot of colors, as do the sprites. Speaking of which, I wish the sprites’ art style matched the one used in the story scenes. In-game Billy, Jimmy, and the final boss all look much different than their cinematic counterparts. Besides, the sprite style leans slightly towards the ugly side.
DDII PC Engine has 2-player drop-in, drop-out co-op just like the MD game. Again, friendly fire can be toggled, and you’ll definitely want it off if you plan to reach the end. Both players share credits, so if either Lee brother can’t handle the platforming segments you’ll be in trouble. Thankfully level select and level skip cheat codes will get you right back where you left off if things go sour.
With impressive cinematics, fantastic music, and a large selection of levels, the PC Engine version of Double Dragon II bests both the NES and arcade games. Turbo Technologies, the US producer of the Turbo Duo (a Turbografx with built-in CD-ROM), had an awful habit of leaving fine games like this, Dracula X, and Street Fighter II Champion Edition in Japan, much to the dismay of Turbo-loving gamers. Hence Double Dragon II was one of my earliest import purchases - way back in 1993.
Language barrier: Low. Unless you speak Japanese, you’ll lose out on a bit of the story’s charm. But those scenes can be turned off if it bothers you enough, and the menus are in English.
Difficulty to import: The original CD-ROM will play in any Turbo Duo or Turbografx CD system equipped with a Super System Card Version 3.0. The emulation route is a bit harder here due to the game’s large file size (300 MEGs), but it’s worth the effort. Playing on emulators like Ootake even reduces the loading times you’d have to stoically endure on a real Turbo Duo. Check out this guide for full instructions.