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Double Dragon IV Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . As a fan of the series, this long-overdue follow-up left me completely cold. At best, Double Dragon IV recycles too many elements from previous installments, giving us a product that never feels fresh or original. It's painfully short, hard to control and filled with the frustration of cheap deaths. It's also inexpensive and does feel a lot like those older NES games, so some gamers may get a kick out of it based solely on nostalgia. Personally, I think you're better off replaying Double Dragon Neon. Rating: 40%
Double Dragon IV
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  • Review Score:

  • C-
If you came here to better understand Double Dragon's convoluted timeline, then I'm afraid I can't help you. I've been up and down Double Dragon IV a bunch of times and I'm still utterly baffled by when this game takes place and what's going on. It confusingly mixes up conflicting story elements from the arcade and console ports, while simultaneously pretending Super Double Dragon and Double Dragon V don't exist. As a sequel, I don't even know where to start.

As far as I can tell, this is a follow-up to the Double Dragon trilogy found on the Nintendo Entertainment System. That means that Marian is alive and the Lee brothers have opened a line of successful dojos around the United States. For once, things are starting to look good for Billy and Jimmy. But since this is a Double Dragon game, you already know that things are about to spiral out of control. What starts as a simple car accident in the middle of the desert quickly escalates into yet another kidnapping.


This sends the brothers on a quest to beat up gang members across twelve short stages. This is, for better or worse, an old school brawler, complete with limited moves and an army of clones dogging your every step. You can punch, kick, jump and pull off a few simple attacks as you travel around the world in search of Marian. What you find isn't exactly a revelation, but at least it's better than Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones.

In a lot of ways, what you see is what you get. There are no real surprises in this new Double Dragon game, it plays out exactly as you would expect. Billy and Jimmy will pick up weapons, navigate conveyer belts, avoid massive spikes and even take on an Abobo or two. It's basically a greatest hits of what we saw in the first three games, only this time in glorious HD. And while that may sound like a criticism, I have a hunch there are a lot of people who are looking for a retro throwback like this.

Unfortunately, too much of Double Dragon IV feels like a missed opportunity. They've had a quarter century to come up with new ideas, so it's a little disappointing seeing it go through the same tired beats. I love the idea of taking the series back to its 8-bit roots, but Arc System Works needed to actually do something with the concept. The fact that this devolves into yet another kidnapping story is a sign that this series may be creatively bankrupt.

Double Dragon IV (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The sad truth is that most of the problems I have with Double Dragon IV can also be leveled against the original games. It's a short game with bite-sized levels and not a lot of replay value. The controls are also sluggish to the point of feeling inadequate for certain battles. The enemies like to swarm you on all sides, making it hard to stand up and continue the fight. You'll push away the bag guys on one side of you only to get knocked down by the gang members behind you. And since the controls aren't very responsive, you'll find that even simple things like turning around or jumping out of the way can be a nightmare to pull off.

And then there are the cheap deaths. It's not just that enemies will keep you knocked down, but sometimes they'll send you flying into a pit. This is a 2D beat-em-up with a lot of clumsy platforming sections, something that is only made worse by the sluggish controls. Like I said, this is a complaint that can also be leveled against the earlier Double Dragon games, but developers have had a couple decades to sort some of this out.

On the same note, I was a little surprised by Double Dragon IV's shoddy performance. The graphics look fine and the levels are diverse, but there's an insane amount of screen tearing happening whenever Billy and Jimmy move. I suppose the good news is that this doesn't impact the gameplay in any way, though it's certainly annoying. It's a shame today's powerful hardware has problems properly displaying 8-bit graphics.

Double Dragon IV (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

As a sequel, I'm more than willing to overlook some continuity problems if the game is fun, but Double Dragon IV never adds up to anything interesting. In fact, it has the single most anticlimactic ending I've seen in a good long time. The conclusion is rushed and wholly unsatisfying. It feels out of character and ultimately unimportant, which is certainly not what I expected after all these years. It's almost as if they didn't have a story to tell, but absolutely needed to make a Double Dragon sequel anyway.

As a fan of the series, this long-overdue follow-up left me completely cold. At best, Double Dragon IV recycles too many elements from previous installments, giving us a product that never feels fresh or original. It's painfully short, hard to control and filled with the frustration of cheap deaths. It's also inexpensive and does feel a lot like those older NES games, so some gamers may get a kick out of it based solely on nostalgia. Personally, I think you're better off replaying Double Dragon Neon.
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