By Steve Baltimore / June 24th, 2017
|Title||Double Dragon IV|
|Developer||Arc System Works|
|Publisher||Arc System Works|
|Release Date||January 30th, 2017|
|Genre||Beat ‘Em Up|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, Xbone, Steam|
Double Dragon IV is an attempt by Arc System Works to return the series back to its arcade glory days. They purchased the franchise back in 2015 and several of the series developers continued on to the project. This includes the original director, character designer, composer, and programmer with production led by Arc System Works designer Takaomi Kaneko. This game was created to be more like the original arcade games and NES versions of Double Dragon rather than the more recent Double Dragon: Neon. Did this one bring back fond memories of pumping quarters into an arcade machine as a kid, or remind me of how frustrating these older style games can be? Let’s find out!
This story is about as paper thin as you would expect from a game mimicking a classic arcade game. Billy and Jimmy Lee want to establish their brand of Sōsetsuken martial arts by working at dojos all around the country. Things do not go as planned however when the Black Warriors, whom the brothers beat up in Double Dragon II, team up with an all new group of bad guys calling themselves the Renegades. The two groups working together have sworn to get rid of the brothers for good!
The graphics look more like an 80s arcade game than an NES port. The sprite work looks great and the environments, such as back streets, jungles, and mechanical factories, are all well represented here. The character and enemy sprites are all high quality as well and as you would expect, there are plenty of palette swapped baddies to contend with. Though I still don’t understand why the red baddies were meaner than the blue ones.
The soundtrack is updated chiptunes of your favorite Double Dragon classics. They took the most iconic songs from the arcade game and enhanced them for a more modern sound. These are all quite catchy and I caught myself humming along while beating up baddies several times during my playthrough. You can also choose the classic soundtrack from the options menu if you want to feel like an 80s kid again. The in-game sound effects are also updated versions of what you heard back in the day in the arcade. This is perfectly acceptable and I feel it works well with the overall design of the game.
The gameplay is basically the classic beat-em-up we knew back in the day. You have a punch, kick and jump button. You can press some of these together to pull off some special moves like the elbow and a jumping spinning kick. You beat up every multi-colored baddie you run across for 12 stages to clear the game. The levels are retro inspired and you can tell lots of love was put into giving them this authentic feel, however that comes with a price. They put some of the platform style jumping the arcade games were infamous for in this title as well. Jumping accurately in a Double Dragon game is like winning the lottery twice in one week; it could happen, but it’s not likely. Some of the later stages get annoying very quickly. Thankfully even though the game only gives you five credits to complete it, you can press the options button on the title screen and start a new game with five more credits on the last stage you finished. Completing the game will unlock Tower Mode, which is basically survival mode, and you unlock new characters for the 2 Player VS. Mode as you complete the story stages and some of the tower missions.
I have to say I have mixed feelings about Double Dragon IV. I like that they tried to bring back the feel of the classic arcade game, but I think they took it too far by putting things in here that made those games annoying to play 30 years ago. You can complete the 12 stages in just a few hours and 2 Player VS. Mode is pretty and about as unbalanced as you’d expect. I feel like you need to be a fan of the series to really enjoy this one at the $6.99 price tag. I personally think there are better classic style arcade games at the price point with more unlockables, but if you have an itch for some classic Double Dragon this will certainly scratch it.
Review copy was provided by the publisher for review purpose.
Arc System WorksarcadeDouble DragonPlayStation 4