Double Dragon IV was an announcement that came out of nowhere and yet it made sense seeing as this year marks the series’ 30th anniversary. Instead of creating a new game in the vein of the last entry, Double Dragon Neon, Arc System Works decided to go the Mega Man 9 route by making a NES style sequel to Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones. Unfortunately unlike Mega Man 9, Double Dragon IV leaves a lot to be desired.
The best way I can describe this game is slow. Players will scroll across the screen fighting baddies that take their sweet time getting to you in either tiny numbers, or overwhelming ones. Snail pace aside even fighting enemies isn’t satisfying. Like classic Double Dragons of yore Billy and Jimmy Lee can punch, kick, or use objects and weapons to ward off foes. If you get knocked down hitting one of the action buttons will produce a powerful counter, but animations are sluggish so falling down, counter or not, dampens the flow of the game. It’s boring and not fun to venture through even with a buddy. It feels too safe and uninspired as if this a beta of a game produced over a weekend.
On top of the ho-hum combat, there are platforming segments that are difficult due to the controls being unresponsive plus there are other bugs as well. One instance produced an invisible wall preventing me from jumping a gap and costing me valuable lives. What I will give the game praise for is its 8-bit, widescreen aesthetic. It looks and sounds good thanks to the remixed tracks. Aside from the main campaign there’s a 2-player fighting arena with a good cast to choose from, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it fun. It’s, I guess, a nice inclusion in an otherwise soulless package.
To hammer it home one last time Double Dragon IV is a shell of a game that lacks inspiration. I shouldn’t be surprised though as I wrote a retrospective earlier last month and was underwhelmed by the series as whole so another dud in the system was logically expected, but I had hoped for the best. A little more time in the oven with a dose of wackiness, could have made this game special, but even at $7 it’s hard to recommend.
Score: 2/5 Stars
Special Notes: I received a review code for Double Dragon IV.