Co-Op International: Double Dragon II Edition
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Co-Op International: Double Dragon II Edition

Billy and Jimmy bust heads in Japan

PC Engine version

In honor of Double Dragon: Neon’s recent release on XBLA and PSN, this month’s Co-Op International looks at a couple of classic Double Dragon games that never made it out of Japan. Both are ports of Double Dragon II: The Revenge and share a few things in common, but otherwise they could hardly be more different. If you enjoy learning about this slice of beat-em-up history, let us know in the comments below!

Double Dragon II for Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis

Double Dragon II Mega Drive

For more screenshots, check out our gallery here.

Sega Genesis fans, did you ever wonder why the Genny got ports of the original Double Dragon and the abysmal Double Dragon III, but not part II? As it turns out, a little company called Palsoft (whose best known game is Magical Chase for Turbografx-16) actually did bring DDII to the Mega Drive, the Japanese version of the Genesis. Palsoft’s version suffered from several technical shortcomings and thus never got picked up for worldwide distribution.

DDII on MD, despite its rough visuals, is actually closer to the arcade DDII than any other console port. See, the three NES Double Dragons basically used the original arcade games as loose templates but dramatically changed the levels and other elements (especially the second and third installments). But the MD game has all four of the arcade levels plus every arcade enemy and weapon - no more and no less. Thus it stands out for its faithfulness.

That said, DDII deviates from the source material in a few ways. The enemy AI and movement is a bit worse, and enemies don’t remain staggered for long, making it harder to throw them. Most curiously, Mission 2 starts and ends like the arcade level, but the middle is pretty different, with a tall ladder climb and multiple conveyor belts. Given how accurate the other levels are, I wonder why the excursion.

Double Dragon II Mega Drive Mission 2

I don't remember this area...

DDII’s graphics hew closely to the arcade style, but everything is smaller and less colorful than the Genesis is capable of. It looks superior to an NES game and probably falls just below what the Turbografx could do. The low-resolution visuals would be more forgivable if not for the slowdown that bogs down the action whenever more than two characters are on-screen at once. Despite those visual shortcomings, the actual music is great and very close to the arcade.

DDII Mega Drive supports 2-player local co-op. Your enjoyment will come down to both players’ patience with the slowdown. On the plus side, friendly fire can be turned off, unlike the real arcade game. Players share the same pool of five credits, but if you play on easy you’ll have no problem reaching the end together. Speaking of which, the ending is just a black-and-white highlight reel. It doesn’t even mention Marian or roll credits.

Language barrier: None. The game and menus are entirely in English.

Difficulty to import: If you own the original cartridge like me, you can play it in a US Genesis using a converter or by modifying the console’s cartridge slot. Most people nowadays would play this via emulation though, which works just like booting up any other Genesis ROM.