QuickView: Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons
So I’ve obsessed over the disappointingly cancelled Korean made remake of Double Dragon II and its surprise un-cancelling. I understand that the game does not look good but I truly felt there may have been more to the game than what we saw.
So, now that the game is out do I still feel that way? Yes.
Also, the game’s price was dropped to a more proper 800 MSP.
See, this game is rough. Not particularly visually impressive, lots of inexplicable slowdown, and kinda sluggish controls. Couple that with the absolutely brutal difficulty where screwing up means losing 3 continues to constant near-unstoppable pummellings from foes (which is almost tradition for Double Dragon) and well…this game is destined to get some pretty bad press.
Having said that the game is far from unplayable and certainly not bad so much as rough.
The gameplay is noticeably different from any previous rendition of Double Dragon II with 8-way running and whatnot. Much of it revolves around building chains and not getting hit. That might sound obvious but there’s more to it than that. You see, ever 4 hits you get a Power Blow stock. Consecutive hits also recharge your Specials. You do Power Blows by holding RT and pressing Punch or Kick, resulting in a super strong move that slows time. However, you can only do Power Blows mid-combo. As soon as your combo stops or your chain is broken you lose your Power Blow stock (but not your Special stock). So you could just mash Punch while holding RT and you’d automatically use a Power Blow when you could, or you could stash them up and unleash them in a flurry of powerful hits resulting in ext screaming “Double Strike!” and “Triple Strike!” on screen.
Specials are RT+A and as mentioned earlier, you collect stocks of them. These range from spin-kicks to fireballs to rapid punches. Disappointingly, you can only have one equipped at a time and which one you have is determined by Power Ups collected throughout the game. Still they are a nice touch and add some extra flair to the game.
Darn shame there’s no way to tell how many stocks of Specials you have. Oh there’s a meter for Power Blows, but not Specials. Weird.
As for keeping your chains from being broken, this revolves around paying attention to your enemies and utilizing Perfect Guard and your Back Elbow (RB or LB).
Having said that the controls are still kinda sloppy. It can be hard to move with precision, making trap-based stages (especially the Combine scene in The Killing Field) rather annoying. Jump kicks also don’t come out as easily as they should thanks to the controls.
One thing that is particularly interesting is that the game has been upgraded in the two years since we last saw it. My reviewer friend tells me it controls much better than it used to. More than that, you can see the changes. Watch the old trailer and notice that the on-screen text was much more plain. Also, they added Porings to the game.
It also seems the cleaned up the text translation in the process as well…but did not re-record the voices, resulting in some truly glorious Engrish:
Notice the bit at the end with the gameplay, though? That is what the game should look like if you’re playing “properly” and are on your A-Game.
So not great but not bad, has a definite charm to those willing to tolerate all the rough spots. It is at the very least a respectful remake of Double Dragon II (the guy who runs the Double Dragon Dojo is even credited in the end credits). No, it’s not Double Dragon Neon. It is, in fact, the polar opposite of Double Dragon Neon. That can be a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing depending on your stance.
But overall? Not too bad.
Currently at the final boss fight on Normal difficulty. Shoot at this rate I’ll probably just clean this up and make it a Review in a few days if I don’t get lazy!
(Spoilers: I’m gonna get lazy.)
Forgot to ballpark a score:
Not great but not awful. Having spent a little more time with it though, the bosses have issues and do kinda wreck the game. Fighting the grunts works great though with the right amount of skill and strategy to the action.