Double Dragon II: Wander Of The Dragons Review
It loads properly. You press start on Double Dragon II’s title screen and the game begins. It may embark on a LOLsome tutorial that tries to tie mysticism into the mundane controls (“Vice meets virtue” croaks a bored voice actor, as a prompt tells you to press X, X, X) but it loads. So there is that. Is that worth 0.5? Let’s say that’s worth 0.5, for the sake of argument.
There is nothing else of in Double Dragon II that deserves even 0.5. Nothing. Not the visuals, not the controls, not the music, the level design, the co-op, anything.
Double Dragon II: Wander Of The Dragons is the worst game on Xbox 360.
Double Dragon II And The Hands Made Of Ham
It begins with that tutorial and then puts you in the shoes of Billy or Jimmy, both of whom have stretched arms and giant hands that look like they’ve been chiselled out of ham. We don’t think it’s a deliberate cartoon look because this has the same pungent ‘make everything gritty’ vibe that infiltrated Bomberman: Act Zero. And if it is deliberate, then well. Look at it. Has it worked? Does it look like it’s worked? No.
Instead of saying “the controls are awful” and leaving it that, here’s how movement works. There’s no auto-lock but a soft-lock of sorts when you’re near an enemy. When you tap any direction, you’ll do a quick dash that way. That sounds like a great idea until you actually want to run, as the recovery following the dash means it’s not that useful for evading, and to run backwards, you have to hold that direction.
So how do you dodge? You have to hold block, tap the direction, then let go of block and hope it works because if it doesn’t, you’ll stand there and take the full attack in the face.
Why. WHY. Why does this have to be so needlessly complicated? It doesn’t add anything to the game. All it does is make you stagger about like a drunk trying to make it to the nearest taxi rank while balancing a kebab and chips. All it does it reinforce why so many developers put dodge on the right analogue stick.
Double Dragon II On The Offensive
Your actual attacks are limited to mashing X (punch!), mashing B (kick!) or mashing the two (a combination of punches and kicks!). No combination unlocks any new animations and holding RT just gives you an enhanced version of your ending move – again, with the same animation. There are also special moves to clear out enemies. Attacking is dull and the controls don’t have the snappy response you need in this genre but they just, just about work.
Because attacking isn’t quite as awful as the rest of the game, attacks are also tied into a stamina bar, which completely ruins it. Stamina recharges but performing any attacks drain it, and when you’re surrounded by enemies, it’s not long before your stamina is gone and you’re left helpess. The only thing a stamina bar adds is an absurb amount of frustration.
This is because Double Dragon II is also stupidly hard. Not hard in the sense that you won’t complete it, because Double Dragon II tucks 20 credits in your back pocket before it boots you into the first level. You’ll just have no idea how to avoid being caught in an endless loop of being knocked to the ground until you die.
Every enemy here has gone to the Playground Bully School Of Combat, where they crowd round you and kick you until you fall over. Get back up and they’ll batter you until you fall down again. Get knocked down, get up again. Get knocked down, get up again. It’s that god-awful Chumbawamba song in game form.
Double Dragon II And Imperfect Guard
Perfect Guard should have been the solution to this, a parry move that offers your only real defensive response to the barrage of attacks you’re subjected to. It doesn’t work. Not only does a successful Perfect Guard drain stamina but it offers no invincibility as a reward while you recover from the animation before launching a counterattack. Perfect Guard one enemy and
In short – it’s absolutely useless when surrounded and that’s the only time you really need it.
The levels see you go from left to right, with some vertical movement allowed That’s fine – it’s what the originals did – except the originals also ensured this restriction made sense with the design of the levels themselves. Narrow streets, narrow construction sites, narrow rooftops and so on.
This lesson has been lost on Double Dragon II circa 2013, which throws invisible walls around you to stop you exploring. Worse still, there’s an invisible wall on the far left and right of the screen where enemies can attack you but you can’t fight back. Unbelievably annoying.
And the levels themselves! Level 1 sees you running past a helicopter, which then pops up again on Level 3 even though you’re in a new area. One level has a lever that throws a winch across a walkway, knocking the enemies off, except they can (and will) attack you during the cutscene that shows the winch moving. You can’t defend yourself while this happens.
Our favourite level is one that takes place inside a plane, which tilts in a cutscene, has you hammering B to hold on for dear life, then another cutscene shows the plane levelling out, at which point you fight more enemies. Again – WHY.
This all plays out at a sludgy frame-rate while a musical loop waltzed straight from hell churns over and over, pushing you a few steps closer to early dementia.
Double Dragon II Co-Op
It’s better with friends! No, it’s not. ‘Better with friends’ may be the usual copout for games with a co-op mode but not here. Firstly, it doesn’t have online co-op. The inevitable comeback to this might be that the original Double Dragon II only had local co-op but it’s 2013 now, not 1988.
Secondly, if you try to put any of your friends through this – inviting them round, forcing them to cancel whatever plans they had that not, forcing them to make the trip to yours, forcing them to suffer this in silence while they wonder why the both of you ever became – they will never play games with you ever again.
It’s just bad on every level. Bomberman: Act Zero, AMY, Hour Of Victoy, Yaris, Kengo: Zero, Discs Of Tron, your new champion is here. Double Dragon II: Wander Of The Dragon is truly the worst game on Xbox 360 and it will take something apocalyptically bad to knock it from its new throne.
Version Tested: Xbox Live Arcade