Hands up anyone who remembers the first Double Dragon on the Speccy then? Ah, good, quite a lot of you. Now, who gets a 'nice, warm, friendly glow' when they think about it? Hmm. Just as I thought. Not so many. Yes, it was a little bit of a disappointment (or at least, I thought it was).
Anyway, here's the sequel, and I'm pleased to be able to tell you it's loads better. Virgin has spared no effort in the ol' 'pad it out with a scenario' stakes so even those of you who missed the first game will know what it's all about. Thus we are informed that our heroes Billy and Jimmy killed all the members of the Black Warrior gang, then rescued their hostage, Marion. But, hold on a minute, that's not all! Yes, one girlie member of the Black Warriors (with the deceptively innocent name of Linda) survived, and vowed vengeance on the Double Dragon twins! Dan dan dan daaaah!!
Now, being the only surviving member of a gang that's now shuffled off its collective mortal coil, what would you do? Retire to Bridlington for a quiet life? See the light and hand out leaflets on your chosen cause in town centres? Blimey no!! You'd travel east, learn lots of magic tricks, suss out how to raise the dead (neat trick, that one) and get the Black Warriors back together again so they can all take a stab at bashing up Billy and Jimmy one more time. And that, in a rather large nutshell, is exactly what our Linda has done.
Now, being dead didn't do much for the cunning nature of the Black Warriors, 'cos the first thing they did when Linda brought them back to life was kidnap Marion back again. Predictable or what? But wait, there's more! They also killed her this time! Yikes! Fortunately though, Billy and Jimmy don't let this deter them, and set out once more to give the nasty Black Warriors a good whipping, hoping to 'rescue' (ie bring back to life) Marion before she gets too smelly.
Yup, it's horizontally scrolling beat-'em-up time, livened up by a brilliant two player option. Billy and Jimmy have got all the usual moves, kicking and punching, leaping and cartwheeling, singing and dancing - you name it, the lads do it. They make the London Boys look like they've got wooden feet! Their figures are well drawn and smoothly animated too, and look kind of cartoony with their slightly exaggerated proportions.
Virgin has wisely gone for a monochrome screen display, and, although it sometimes gets a little cluttered and difficult for you to establish what's going on (like when about four bad guys bundle in at once, for instance), for most of the time it works pretty well. Something which sets it apart from most beat-'em-ups is that boxes, rocks, and just about anything else that's lying around can be picked up along the way and thrown at the bad guys. What a brilliant lark! The bad news is that they tend to throw them back at you pretty ruddy sharpish (so I often adopted the reasonably effective 'chuck it and scarper' approach). But on the whole it's a brilliant addition to your standard beat-'em-up fare. There are also 'natural' hazards to be negotiated, such as holes, and a fair amount of leaping, diving and climbing is required if you want to avoid dying, which (let's face it) you probably will.
The sound is alright, the usual sort of kicky, punchy, spring-aroundy types of noises, with some good crunchy bashing sounds on the 128. My only worry is that we've seen too much of this sort of thing already, and (throwing option aside) it isn't different enough to distinguish itself from all the rest. I've already typed 'Dragon Ninja' in twice by mistake when writing this review, so you see the problem! It's perfectly fine for passing the time in an arcade, but I doubt it'll get anyone massively excited in its Speccy incarnation.
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