STAFF REVIEW of Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Thursday, May 16, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons Box art Revenge is a motive that can poison a soul and ultimately leave one worse off than before. This emotion is the backbone of one of the most iconic sequels in video games, Double Dragon II. The original Double Dragon starred two brothers, Jimmy and Billy Lee who were on a quest to rescue Billy's girlfriend Marian who had been kidnapped by the Shadow Warrior gang and their leader Willy. Seeking payback for losing the girl, the stage is set for this sequel as in the opening moments you bear witness to Marian's ultimate fate at what appears to be the Shadow Warriors attempting to have their revenge on the Lee brothers. While normally opening up with such a revelation is a bad thing, in this case you will thank us for doing so because that is ultimately the best part of the game. What was expected was a successful adaptation from classic and iconic retro gaming into current gen gaming bliss with eye popping graphics, intense music, and fluid gameplay that keeps you hooked for hours. Sadly you find none of this in this 800MS point game. Now before you rage off in disbelief, let us tell you why this is quite possibly one of the worst games available on the Xbox Live Arcade.

What was mentioned in the story above is pretty much the entire plot of the game, so any attempt to extract some form of meaningful information down the road is pointless given that this game is plagued with so many faults that you may not even want to finish the game. With that being said, let us explain in further detail. When you have a side scrolling action game it is without question and absolutely critical to have a fluid and responsive control scheme. Now in Double Dragon II what you find could easily be described as one of the most frustrating and anger inducing control scheme ever invented. You have just as much success and fun trying to play the game with your feet while blindfolded. This pathetic attempt is incredibly sad when you think that games back in the 16 bit era could somehow manage phenomenal side scrolling action games. It gets even sadder when you consider how this iconic series started back in the arcades and was such a monumental success.

If you thought that was the last of the abysmal faults of gameplay, sadly you're very mistaken. The core to the whole side scrolling action gameplay rests in the combat of the game itself, and we're sorry to say that Double Dragon II provides arguably one of the worst combat systems ever to be found on a console, arcade, or planet earth, you get the idea. It's not complex by any means. You have a punch combo or a kick combo and if you want to try and perform a more powerful move, then hold down the RT. Holding RT apparently creates this sort of super special power move, which ultimately is just the same move in slow motion and with no apparent dramatic benefit, thus making this move completely worthless. This combat system is tied hand in hand with the monumentally idiotic stamina system. Think of this system as a rechargeable bank of energy that allows you to pull off combos, sort of super moves, provided you have the amount of stamina to pull it off. What this means is that in the middle of a fight of, let's say three, enemies you may run out of stamina and the next thing you know you're getting banged from all sides in a nightmarish way.

It's not like you're without any form of defense though because if you hold LT you can perform a block which if timed right to the opponents attack will create what’s called a Perfect Guard that in theory will open up your enemy to a counter attack. While this may prove to be an opening for an attack, performing a Perfect Guard will also drain stamina, so if you do perform a Perfect Guard then your opportunity to perform a counter combo is dashed because you already have lost stamina by not throwing any sort of blow. When this stamina runs out it needs to recharge and thus opens you up to attacks from multiple enemies and multiple sides without any hope of recovery and the only outcome is your demise. If you can sit and play through Double Dragon II then you have the forgiveness, and patience of the Pope.

While yes the graphics do look a lot better than what we have seen in the 16bit era, or on the arcades, that doesn't really boost Double Dragon II's credibility. You could have golden 3D dragons flying out of the screen, and massive explosions going on all around you with scantily clad women draped everywhere and none of that would matter because you still have such a phenomenal steaming pile in your hands. Now that we have touched on the only good part of Double Dragon II, we thought it would be nice to come back to reality and deal with the issue of no online multiplayer. This is a game where the fun rests in going through missions with a friend, and while there is local co-op support, there is nothing outside of leaderboard support for the game's online capabilities. We find this appalling given the fact that the next generation console is rumored to be months away and thousands of titles with some from over half a decade ago providing fantastic online multiplayer support. This is completely inexcusable and yet another blow below Double Dragon's belt.

While we could go on about other issues such as the voice in the training area not saying the words indicated by the subtitles, the dumbed down computer AI, or the pathetic attempt to recreate some of the iconic music from yesteryear, but we won't. In fact there's nothing else to say really except that there is no logical reason on this planet, or in any physical plane of existence that would justify the reasoning of why you would ever consider not just playing, but purchasing this thunderous showcase of pure gaming trash. There are two words that describe what developer Gravity and publisher Cyberfront Korea Corporation have done to Double Dragon II by pricing it at 800MS points, blatant robbery. Please heed our warning dear gamers. This game needs to be avoided at all costs as cherished memories from the past will forever be bastardized with irrevocable and unrelenting pain and torment.

May the failures of this game give you the knowledge of what not to do in the future.

Overall: 1.8 / 10
Gameplay: 0.1 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 0.1 / 10


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