Double Dragon IV Review
Arc System Works and Technos Japan have teamed up to bring the classic beat-em-up series Double Dragon to the PlayStation 4 and Steam in Double Dragon IV. Unfortunately, this retro throwback is more of a relic than a revolution.
Double Dragon IV Review
Though it may be a mainline entry, Double Dragon IV does little to differentiate itself from its predecessors. A number of character sprites are lifted verbatim from the NES classics, feeling more like a cost-cutting measure than a tribute. This is made even worse when the same enemies (and even bosses) appear multiple times per stage, with only a slight coloration made to their sprite. Though there are some new assets in place here, it feels more like they were designed as an afterthought. There is a distinct lack of polish here, with rampant screen tearing a literal text screen telling you which level is next and when stages are complete.
The story in Double Dragon IV is told in still screens, with a handful of pixelated images spicing things up. Billy and Jimmy Lee are back, and they are looking to save Marian from the Okada sisters. To do this, they must battle their way through throngs of sumo wrestlers, thugs, ninjas, and other outlandish video game enemies. The story here is basic, lacks a twist, and is just there to move the proceedings along. However, beat-em-ups aren’t really known for their verbose plots, so what is here gets the job done.
However, the entirety of Double Dragon IV is dreadfully short. Even the most inexperienced of players should be able to complete the game’s 12 stages in around an hour. Some parts literally fill an area or two full of enemies and expect you to fight your way through. There is some platforming to spice things up, but the side-scrolling engine wasn’t built for pixel-perfect jumps.
This feeling of cheapness extends to much of the game. The odds are often stacked against you, with enemies ganging up on you and some attacks taking out half of your health. Though there is some variation in the punch, kick, and jump moveset Billy and Jimmy have, most bouts devolve into knocking the enemy down and repeatedly mashing the punch button until they fall down again. Enemies also lack any sort of AI, often running into traps or falling off of cliffs.
There also isn’t much here to keep players playing for long. A Tower mode can be unlocked for completing the main game, which has players clearing an endless wave of enemies to get to the next floor. There is also the ability to play through the main game as one of the enemy characters, though there is not a ton of variety.
Double Dragon IV doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Those looking to scratch that beat-em-up itch are better off playing WayForward’s Double Dragon Neon or waiting for the upcoming River City Ransom: Underground.