Growing up, Double Dragon has always had a significant influence towards my gaming experience. To play as either Billy or Jimmy Lee as they fight their way to save the girl and then at the end where you fight each other has been very memorable. So it brings me great joy to learn that Double Dragon IV has been released for both the PC and PS4, all in its 8-bit glory!
As stated earlier, you play as either Billy or Jimmy Lee as they fight their way against hordes of enemies using either their fists, kicks, and/or objects. There are even oversized objects that can be picked up, which is something that you won’t see in the previous Double Dragon titles. The modes you have access to from the start will be limited. But as you progress further, you’ll unlock additional content, thereby prolonging the game’s replay value. You can initially choose to play through the campaign on your own or with a buddy (as well as an option to be able to hurt each other or not).
I would strongly recommend playing Double Dragon IV with a controller if you are on the PC. You get the separate punch and kick buttons like before. However, there is also a single button associated for jumping by default. You can also remap your character’s spin and knee kick. Overall, I did like how smooth and easy it was to execute special attacks, which is done via certain button presses and timing.
There is a great mix of new and old when it comes to the enemies in Double Dragon IV. You get the original characters, like Williams, Rowper and Chin, making their appearances. Some may even surprise you with a new attack move or two. There are also new characters I have not seen before or don’t remember seeing such as Mason or Cody.
Essentially, you get pretty much the excitement and challenge of a classic 8-bit beat-em-up game. While the earlier are a lot easier to get through very quickly, the later levels do offer the difficulty that will quickly use up your lives and continues. The levels themselves do offer a variety, including some pitfalls and obstacles that require you to perfectly time your jump from a certain pixel within the platform.
The unlockables in Double Dragon IV is where you’ll get yourself revisiting this game. Each time you pass a stage, you get a character that can be accessed in the two-player dual mode. In addition, when you complete the whole game, you get access to the Tower mode. In this particular mode, you will find yourself battling in a number of single-screen arenas, with the hidden boss waiting for you in the end of this tower. What’s also worth mentioning is that each level you get through in this Tower will unlock a new character accessible in all game modes.
Graphically, Double Dragon IV remains true to its predecessors with its 8-bit classic retro look. The characters are consistent and recognizable; however the levels could use some variety and uniqueness. There are some levels that feel a bit short and thus the designs turn out uninspired and unmemorable. The audio does also keep with its 8-bit roots. Nonetheless, the soundtrack is forgettable.
It is great to see Double Dragon IV keep to its retro classic spirit. While the gameplay does bring about this nostalgia, there are elements that prevent this title to achieving perfection. Some of the levels were a bit too easy to complete within a short period of time. Furthermore, a few aspects of the presentation prevent it from providing a truly memorable experience. Nevertheless, the additional content and the familiar parts of the game does make Double Dragon IV a worthy title to get, especially for fans.