• Double Dragon has a long and sordid history. After being initially released as an Arcade game, the series was ported to the Famicom/NES, and in many ways was it’s own series apart from the Arcade versions. It would eventually branch out to the Super Famicom/SNES with Return of the Double Dragon/Super Double Dragon, and oddly having a fifth game that was a fighter, based on the terrible Western cartoon. Even odder was the Neo-Geo Fighter that was somewhat based on the even more terrible live-action Hollywood film. Even years later, the series would shift hands to various development and publishing companies, seeing a great beat em’ up with Double Dragon Neon, and a not so great Chinese made remake to the original. But none of these games were good enough to fill that missing link of Double Dragon IV. Until now, that is. However, what was actually produced is also not worthy of that distinction. Double Dragon IV is among one of the worst efforts at the series’ revival to date, although it isn’t without some charms.

    The game seems to be a direct sequel to Double Dragon II for the Famicom/NES. I guess we are supposed to forget about Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones ever happened despite this game’s title. It’s probably for the best. The game even apes the visual aesthetic of the NES ports, although thanks to the PS4, there are more combat functions that are mapped to other buttons. Although if you want to go old-school, you can press two face buttons to produce the same effect. You can punch, kick, do a back elbow strike or a roundhouse kick. Grappling also a combat option as well. Jimmy and Billy also seem to have developed a few new tricks, as they can do a spin kick without gaining levels or from some complex maneuver. They also have recovery uppercut and flying knee attacks to use to mop up punks. As for what little story that exists in the game, it seems to involve a pair of sisters that want to rule the world, because of course. All this story is told through lazy text boxes with character portraits instead of anything being done in the engine or Ninja Gaiden style cut-scenes.

    If you were really hankering for more Double Dragon, this game will likely fail to satisfy, though. The whole effort seems half-baked. The 8-bit aesthetic is garish when sidled alongside a new terrible midi-based soundtrack. You’ll want to switch to the chiptune version, as it’s immensely better. A lot of the new sprites also look terribly designed. It’s like an amateur ROM hack that was sold to the public. In a way it’s a bit charming, but the fact that Double Dragon Neon exists and did a way better job with the franchise in terms of functionality speaks volumes to the amount of effort put into this. Oh, and it doesn’t look good when your NES styled game has screen tearing. That is completely unacceptable in this day and age, for a game with this kind of visual style. It’s retro look also means that the game still has some cheap deaths and limited continues. At least the game has a level select, even if it only goes up to the last level you completed. There is a battle mode and a horde mode in the form of the Battle Tower, and you can unlock characters to play as in Story mode if you don’t care for the Double Dragons. But this game is yet another failed attempt to revive the franchise and it’s not even of particularly great caliber. My suggestion is to just buy Double Dragon Neon instead. Arc System Works needed to do a lot better.

    Double Dragon IV - Review
    A mediocre effort to revive this old franchise, although it has a bit of charm to it.
    Our Score5
    Positives
    • There is a somewhat decent level select option to keep going after you have seen the game over screen.
    Negatives
    • Cheap death spots are annoying to deal with.
    • The awful screen tearing which is totally unacceptable in this day and age.
    5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
    0.0

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