Review: Double Dragon IV

If any of you were reading reviews here in 2012 and you cared about reboots of classic games, then you might recall how I bitched about Double Dragon Neon for various reasons, but said that it was basically alright.

My main point of contention was the developer at the time, WayForward Technologies, took out some of my favourite moves and added in a really out of place “magic move” system. Well it turns out that at some point, the license passed to Arc System Works, of all studios, the creators of Guilty Gear, and the game they recently released might have been a step too far in the other direction.

Game info
Genre: Action
Platform/s: PC, PS4
Reviewed on: PS4
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Arc System Works
Distributor: Digital

By that I mean that they didn’t change anything. Anything. They even used the same pixel-art graphics style of the original trilogy – the 8-bit NES trilogy, not the arcade one. Okay? Kind of an odd choice. They even brought back the clunky and annoying platforming sections over spike pits and deadly drops. Yeah, we could have done without those, Arc. Nobody liked those. Oh, and the game only gives you five credits. If you die enough times and use them all up, it’s game over – start again. The game is also presumably back in canon with the original trilogy, being titled Double Dragon IV – but then, “punch bad dudes, rescue girlfriend” isn’t much of a canon to work with, so I don’t think anyone cared, really.

I’ll get this out of the way now. I like it. I like it more than Double Dragon Neon for sure. For starters, it has my favourite moves from Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones, including the ability to grapple enemies and knee them face, elbow them in the back of the head, and judo throw over your shoulder – the moves I missed the most in Neon. It also has that ridiculous jumping spinning kick that we basically relied on in Double Dragon II and III – which would never work when we needed it to. Now it’s easy to pull off – so much so that it’s actually pretty hard not to do it. I kept accidentally pulling it off while attempting a mere flying kick. It is weaker than it used to be though, and doesn’t hit as many times, so it’s no longer the exploitable fix-all it used to be.

It also has some newly animated moves, including a jumping roundhouse and a ridiculous 45 degree, upward-angled… drill attack? I don’t even know what they were thinking when they animated that. It is powerful, though. The only problem with these new moves is that they’re finnicky to pull off, requiring you to press and hold the punch or kick button and then quickly press forward on the d-pad. Why? There are many other tried and trusted ways – double taps, quarter-circles, quick-presses/hold-downs. Luckily, you can assign these finicky moves to other buttons and bypass this weird command system.

So Double Dragon IV is a bit janky and quite tough, but it’s true to its roots in that regard. Although now that Arc System Works owns the license, I wouldn’t mind seeing a future Double Dragon game with Guilty Gear quality graphics and fighting mechanics.

70 A bite-sized dose of pixel-pummeling nostalgia, only for real fans of the NES trilogy.

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