Double Dragon IV
I am certainly not immune to the charms of 80s and 90s game design, but the NES version of Double Dragon wasn’t a great example for Double Dragon 4 to follow. It’s not just that this simplistic beat-em-up formula didn’t age well graphically or mechanically, it’s that it simply isn’t very fun or engaging to play in 2017.
This period study of the arcade's formative beat 'em up has its charms, but the sense that this is a game out of time is not easily shaken.
The ‘80s nostalgia is laid on so thick you could almost choke from it, in this joyless proof that too much nostalgia can be a bad thing.
If you’re looking for a true-to-form Double Dragon title, this is it. However, with decades passing since the original and nothing to propel it forward outside of the ancient IP, you may have difficulty finding the fun
Double Dragon IV isn't a good game in a modern sense, but it certainly is an honest trip back in time that will, if nothing else, offer a heavy dose of nostalgia for anyone with a fondness for the Lee Brothers' 8-bit adventures.
Double Dragon IV feels like the developer Arc System Works discovered an unreleased old NES game and emulated it on PS4. Its graphics, sound, and gameplay are utterly authentic to the period. Unfortunately, so are its cheap shots and frustrating design elements. It's certainly a lot of fun to play for a while, but once its nostalgic novelty wears off, only hardcore retro fans will likely want to come back for more.
Arc System Work's staunch dedication to the retro aesthetic for Double Dragon IV is admirable, but still falls short of the mark even when juxtaposed to several of the series' own entries. Punch and kicking dudes as Billy and Jimmy still works, but many elements of IV just feel a little too off-brand for my liking.
Even for those looking for a nostalgic trip through time, you are just much better off playing the original game and avoiding the mess that is Double Dragon IV.
It's not just an homage to brawlers of a bygone era; it could blend in seamlessly were it to time travel to the past. And that's not good.
Double Dragon 4 plays the nostalgia card harder than most, but its narrow-sighted reliance on this has left it feeling like a relic that perhaps shouldn't have been disturbed. The combat can be simplistic fun but is ruined by cheap AI, and the trio of modes don't offer much to stick around for. The presentation is a cool look back at the 80s school of design, but once the novelty wears off, you're left with a frustrating beat-em-up that inadvertently highlights the leaps in gameplay, animation, and visuals that games have made over the last three decades.