Hey gang, Valkor here. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my local arcade and my usual go-to machines was usually the beat-em-ups such as Double Dragon, Ninja Turtles, Final Fight, The Simpsons and even X-Men. And that trend continued when it came to the consoles (Streets of Rage 2 is my all time favorite). Thanks to the folks at Arc System Works, we get a taste of the old on a newer platform as the 8-bit journey of Billy and Jimmy Lee continue in “Double Dragon IV”.
"Double Dragon IV" is the direct sequel to "Double Dragon II", though I would have preferred it take place after III. Regardless, Jimmy and Billy Lee face off against a new threat called “The Renegades”, who have teamed up with DD2 baddies, the “Black Warriors”, to take down the Lee Brothers once and for all. And if you’re familiar with the series, yes Marion is also tossed into the mix with the classic scene where she’s punched in the gut and taken away. There are plenty of bad guys that look to get in your way but the Lee brothers are equipped with a variety of moves that’ll help get them through even the roughest of patches. And while you can tackle the game head on by yourself, it’s always good when you can bring along a friend for some co-op.
"Double Dragon IV" is heavily inspired by the 8-bit NES days of old, and while there are many titles (especially indie games) that attempt to match the look of a classic game, only Double Dragon IV looks to have lifted character sprites direct from the NES versions, onto modern equipment. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the game also brings along some of the negative game mechanics that came with it. And I’ll dig into it further as we delve into the TOV Breakdown.
When "Double Dragon Neon" was released back in 2012, I fell in love with everything about it and I was looking forward to a follow-up of some kind. Now that Arc System Works has the license, they took things way back with "Double Dragon IV", playing off of nostalgia rather than focusing on a modern update. And in that sense, it is a success because DD4 perfectly captures the NES experience from the sprites and sound effects, while the music has been given a bit of a boost. If you’re familiar with 8-bit Double Dragon, then you’ll be in familiar territory, while newcomers might not enjoy the experience overall. The graphics are the same as they would appear on the NES, though they’ve been given an HD bump in clarity – the everything is sharper and clearer with brighter brights and darker darks. The controls are also exactly that of the NES games, a bit sluggish but the moves you’ll need to win aren’t difficult to pull off. While there are better beat em ups out there, Double Dragon IV is an achievement in and of itself as it’s able to bring something old to a newer generation.
As I mentioned above, the controls are a bit sluggish and it doesn’t help that the bad guys are mad cheap! As soon as their assault begins, it then becomes an all-out, non-stop pummeling, giving you little room to counter. When you die and return, you’re given a few seconds of invincibility, which helps but not in the long run. Some of the environments are cheap too, such as the spikes in one area that come from the ground and ceiling; timing your movement just right to get past them is too much of a chore. Overall, the game is not unplayable or unbeatable, but there’s a ton of frustration packed in such a short run.
Double Dragon IV is available now and if you’re a fan of the classic NES titles, then this is one title you’ll want to pick up. Newcomers, however, might want to tread lightly. However, I’d recommend giving the game a shot, since it doesn’t cost that much and it’s way more fun with two players. So, out of TOV 5 stars, I’m gonna meet Double Dragon IV half way and give it a 2.5.