A few days ago, a friend of mine tweeted me the announcement of Double Dragon IV. I was elated to get my hands on this title. In my childhood, one of my favorite games of all time, Streets of Rage 2, was a beat’em up experience that helped shape the way I look at video games forever. Unfortunately in my youth, I was never really able to play games like Final Fight or Double Dragon due to my family’s financial situation. When I was coming up, games were something of a luxury item. There were only so many my siblings and I would get for Christmas, birthdays, etc. Many of them were hand-me-downs from our cousins or garage sale wins from Grandma. Short life bio aside, I was especially looking forward to Double Dragon IV for this reason – to experience a genre of game that we haven’t really seen since the 8 and 16 bit era – a genre of one of my favorite games that I’ve longed to see a resurgence of.
Luckily for me, I’ve had the honor of receiving Double Dragon IV from Arc Systems for review. Unluckily for you, I’ve got some bad news. Before I tell you all about the things I disliked about the game, let’s start with what I did like!
What Double Dragon IV Does Right
- It’s only $6.99! If you’re a long time Double Dragon fan, this could be enough to reel you in.
- I love the retro artwork. Although there are some areas in the game that look a little uninspired, it begins to get better about halfway through the game. Mission 6’s stage is one that comes to mind.
- When I first booted up Double Dragon IV, I was filled with nostalgic glee. It was just a fancily designed title with “story” and “options”. Pressing start and being greeted by 8-bit graphics just felt so nuanced for me. It reminded me of simpler times when games weren’t trying to be anything but…well…games. Back then, developers only had one shot to impress you. They did this with what little they had to work with and we loved it – flaws and all. It was exciting to walk in someone else’s shoes and beat the pants off people just because. This is how I felt the moment my character punched the first baddy in the face.
- You can pick up where you left off by hovering over the “story” tab in the menu and pressing the “start” or “options” button on your controller. Unlike in the NES days, you don’t have to worry about leaving your PC or console on just to continue the game to completion.
But…(oh no, here it comes…)
- The satisfaction I felt when punching that guy in the face came with some concerns. While I love retro inspired games from an artistic standpoint, I’d rather we at least upgrade animations and physics in these newer renditions. The combat, while arguably authentic, was stiff. I often felt frustrated while playing because there would be times when I died simply due to not being agile enough or from my jump not having enough range causing me to fall into the abyss. I’m not the most skilled player, but I know how to jump over things at least. The physics could definitely be improved.
- The music in normal mode and retro mode is a bit dull and uninspired. I understand they wanted a simplistic design overall, but even in the actual 8-bit era there were more diverse soundtracks in games.
- The enemies were boring and not fun to fight. I felt the game lacked a bit in enemy diversity too. In the olden days, most enemies were copy and paste. Even my favorite, Streets of Rage, did this. Yet again, while trying to be authentic, it came off a little flat.
- The dialogue is…meh. It didn’t make me feel things. I don’t expect a game of this caliber to have the best story, but it had no semblance of interesting plot dynamics.
All in all, I have to be honest. I cannot recommend Double Dragon IV. Although I long for the day beat ’em ups get their shine again, this is not the reboot we need in today’s modern era to kick start the genre. It pains me to say this, but if you’re looking for a game of this fashion, I suggest going to your nearest digital shop and browsing through the indie section. In Double Dragon IV’s attempt at being authentic, it limited the possibilities of how it could modernize or innovate within the genre.
Have you had a chance to play Double Dragon IV? What do you think? Let us know below!