Impressions: Double Dragon IV
The more I played Double Dragon IV, the less I enjoyed it. The game left a good impression on me the first time I played it, but the more I played, the more I wanted to stop playing. I had already struggled trying to beat the game in single player. With my five given credits with three lives each to play with, the hardest part about surviving in the game isn’t the enemies you’ll face, but the platforming sections that are required to progress.
For the most part, the controls are fine. You can jump, kick and punch to defeat your enemies, but the jumping mechanic does not work well at all when platforming. When playing, I felt like the platforming sections were out to get me, like they were there to gobble up my quarters if I were playing in the arcade. If an enemy hits you, you lose a bit of your health meter. If you fall to your death on a platforming section, you lose an entire life. Entire credits can vanish in the blink of an eye if you don’t perform the platforming sections well.
That’s not to say the rest of the game is a cake walk either. In single player, enemies can gang up on you and constantly knock you down if you aren’t careful. Projectile enemies spam their shots and are relentless. I did like the amount of variety of enemies however, as when you complete missions in the story, you’ll unlock the characters to play as in the local co-op duel mode. Each character has their own moveset and they are fun to experiment with. When completing the story, each character unlocked can be played in the story mode. After completing the story mode, a tower mode is unlocked. This is pretty much an endless mode to see how many floors you can play before you’re defeated.
I even tried to complete the game in local co-op, where you are given seven credits instead of five, and the credits are shared. Again, the frustrating platforming sections halted our playthrough, and when we were able to get past these sections, we didn’t have many credits or lives left to get much further. The story mode features 12 missions with very little story bits thrown in between each mission. Missions don’t take much time to get through and it should only take you about an hour to do a full playthrough of the story mode.
The 8 bit looking graphics are great, but screen tearing is very evident, even from the get go. The game seemed to perform well for the most part, but I’m not sure I’d call the experience “smooth”. My favorite part of the entire experience however, was the soundtrack. Music kicks in at just the right moments, and its rock soundtrack is just about the only thing I enjoyed about Double Dragon IV.
In some respects, Double Dragon IV does what it sets out to do. It’s a classic side-scrolling beat’em up made in the style of an old NES game. It looks like an NES game and it plays like an NES game. That kind of experience may have been enjoyable back in the day, but I did not enjoy my time with Double Dragon IV in 2017. However, I do recommend listening to the soundtrack, but it’s certainly not worth buying the game.