I remember first playing Double Dragons in the arcade, popping quarter after quarter in the machine. I remember how my dad used to try and play, too, and I’d get frustrated and knock him into pits. I also remember how crazy my dad went looking for a copy of the NES version of Double Dragon when it was released for the home console.
Fast forward and I had the same excitement for Double Dragon II and Double Dragon III. I loved the series as a kid. When I found out Double Dragon IV was coming out, and it looked exactly the same as the older titles? Aw, man. I was really excited.
That excitement waned pretty quickly.
If you’re familiar with the Double Dragon series there’s not much new here. It’s a side-scrolling beat’em up where you punch and kick your way through the bad guys until you reach the end of the level. There are a few special moves you can use, like uppercuts, jump kicks, roundhouses, grabs, and throws. There’s also the occasional whip, bat, knife, wheel, or barrel to pick up and throw. Double Dragon IV is identical to the older games in almost every way.
Including terrible dialog in Story Mode.
Also included in Double Dragon IV is the 2-player Battle Mode where you can fight against another player using characters, including enemies, unlocked during Story Mode. Along with 2-player Battle Mode is Tower Mode. Fight your way up each level of the tower with no continues to unlock more characters.
The PS4 version of the game includes Share Play so your friends can join in the action even if they don’t own the game. Both players must be Playstation Plus members and play sessions are limited to 1 hour.
Double Dragon IV’s visuals are on par with Double Dragon III. Attention to detail is this aspect is amazing. Even the soundtrack sounds just like older games. It’s a complete retro throwback. Characters look just as cool, or as strange, as they did on the NES.
Being such a fan of the Double Dragon series I was really looking forward to playing IV. After playing for a few hours I walked away from the experience a bit disappointed. With all the excellent retro-style games I’ve been playing lately I thought it would be awesome to play a classic series developed just like the older games in the series were. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t true.
Double Dragon IV feels a bit … stale. There was barely a challenge to playing the game, some of the level design felt really poor and rushed, and there just wasn’t enough diversity to keep me entertained. I fell back into the same old patterns of fighting bad guys that I used in my youth, and it just didn’t feel fun at all.
It’s a shame, really.
A Steam copy of Double Dragon IV was provided free for review by Arc System Works.
Media personality Rob “Devar-TTY” Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of Devar-TTY’s Pawns Perspective, Dev now focuses mostly on video games and TTRPGs. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.