Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons Review

I admit, I didn’t realize there was still a big market for Double Dragon games. I mean, back in the 80s and 90s, they were all the rage. Then again, side-scrolling beat-em-ups were about as revolutionary as video games got, and Billy and Jimmy Lee were stars. They got their own movie, they got to party and co-star with the Battletoads.

Now, flash-forward 20 years, and they are drowning their sorrows at some dive bar with Axel and Haggar and the only character from that genre still famous is Abobo, because he has a Big Adventure.

At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself, I came here for a video game review, not Double Dragon: Behind the Game. Well, here is my point. Last year, Majesco and WayForward Tech released Double Dragon Neon to solid reviews and a lot of high-fives. Most people old enough to remember Double Dragon thought it was good enough to fix their need for a Double Dragon game. The neon-drenched beat-em-up basically equates to Billy and Jimmy’s heyday. Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons equates to the Billy and Jimmy who had one too many pints, threw on their old uniforms, and pretended to be cool again. Only, everybody laughs at them now – yes, even Skate.

Maybe the retro look was what Gravity Corp was going for in this remake of the original Double Dragon II: The Revenge arcade game. The graphics and environments look ugly at worst and uninspired at best. There is a lot of brown. The ground is brown, the weapons you can pick are brown, and many of the environments are, you guessed it, brown. The character models aren’t anything special, but they are about the most graphically impressive thing here. Even the boob physics are, maybe, Dreamcast-quality, but certainly the original Dead or Alive puts them to shame. The music is really a matter of personal preference, since the grating and repeating tunes will force you to mute the game and use your music player of choice.

Considering the terrible graphics and music, the tutorial level is all serious business. You better listen to it, at least the first two parts, because it teaches the ancient art of spamming the punch button (X) and spamming the kick button (B). You can safely ignore the other parts like Guard or Special, since they never work anyway due to terrible collision detection. You will also begin to see some of the pointless and crudely animated cut-scenes. Luckily, these are skippable.

At this point, you should expect a lack of enemy variety and you would be right. There are the really easy henchman type bad guys with a couple of different uniforms, the bigger mini-boss type, and the really big Bosses.  The henchmen are basically human punching bags who sometimes bring weapons for you to take from them. They also tend to get stuck in walls or off the screen, forcing you to run around the screen until they are available to be punching bags again. The mini-bosses and boss types aren’t too bad unless the henchmen start joining the fight and the game starts glitching because of too many enemies on the screen. When this happens (*spoiler*- this exclusive tip is for godisageek.com readers only), you might as well let yourself die and come back with some special attack that destroys the henchmen and half the health of a mini-boss or boss. Your thumbs will thank you, since your only real option in this case is to spam buttons until you suffer the same fate anyway. The game has local only co-op too, so if you have a buddy crazy enough to trudge through this mess with you, this won’t be an issue.

Wander of the Dragons has the original arcade game’s four environments (the heliport, the storefront, the field, and the boss hideout) and divides them into small sections that will take you about five minutes to complete. Considering all the glitches, I’m not going to complain about that. It would’ve been nice to have more environments, but I was really glad to know the pain was ending soon. The one addition to gameplay is the introduction of the quick-time event. Seriously, QTEs have infected the beat-em-up genre. I admit, I did die a few times when I first encountered one. I just couldn’t wrap my head around who would think QTEs would make a great addition to such a generic brawler. There is also a survival mode in Double Dragon II where your enemies come at you in waves like you would expect, or just run by you in mass numbers like you wouldn’t.  Either way, haven’t you suffered enough at this point?

You know that you’re in for a rough ride just from the title. I would like to consider myself somewhat proficient in English, but I seriously had to look up Wander at dictionary.com to check it didn’t have two meanings. It doesn’t – it literally means to wander off or roam. I questioned whether this was a just some kind of typo or Gravity Corp never took it out because they thought it sounded cool. Wander of the Dragons doesn’t have anything to do with the game. This points to how much effort went into this.

VERDICT:  By now, I think I’ve given you enough reasons to avoid it and save 800 MS Points or 10 bucks.  The only reason Double Dragon II doesn’t get an even lower score is because we haven’t got one. When your 15-stage game peaks at Stage 1, you know your game sucks. And this game does suck. There is no reason to get this over the superior Double Dragon Neon or any other brawler. Ever.

Score 1

DIABOLICAL. An absolute travesty and a crime against video games. This title will have no redeeming qualities whatsoever and doesn’t deserve to be seen by anyone, let alone played. If we’ve score it 1/10, it’s pretty much unplayable and should be avoided like a ticking briefcase.

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