[#042] Holy shit, a brand new Double Dragon game in 2017! This came out of nowhere! I accidentally found out about this game on release day (January 31st, 2017) and gladly spent $6.99 on it through Steam. It's also on Playstation 4.
Yep, Double Dragon IV. Before you scratch your head in confusion about the title, there's an explanation why this game is numerically titled with "IV" even though a "V" was released on the SNES back in the 16-bit era.
while we're on the subject of numbering, it should be noted that blog #041 is still in an editing phase since august 2016, which is why the previous blog to this one is #040. okay, back to the topic.
The original Double Dragon by Taito was a smash hit in the arcades when released in 1987. It was ported to multiple consoles and then Technos released Double Dragon II: The Revenge to the arcades a year later. This sequel was the exact same game with reskinned levels, reskinned characters, and an altered move-set. Enter Acclaim (or Akklaim), who rebuilt DD2: The Revenge from the ground up and fleshed it out with a killer story and "bonus content" that is Mission 9, the Final Confrontation. Anyone who keeps the Double Dragon series close to them knows that the NES version is the definitive version of DD2: The Revenge.
In 1990, Technos released Double Dragon III:The Rosetta Stone to the arcade world. The same NES publisher loosely ported this game as Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones in 8-bit fashion.
Two years after that, the Super Nintendo saw a fourth installment of the series. It had two titles, depending on region/localization. Super Double Dragon was also known as Return of Double Dragon. It did not have "4" or "IV" anywhere in the title. Ever.
However, that didn't stop developer Leland Interactive Media, who coded a one-on-one versus fighter that was released on the SNES in 1994 as Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls. This game was based off the 1990s TV cartoon series, which in case you haven't heard about, it's a good thing. A year later, a second fighting game, simple titled Double Dragon, made it's way to the NeoGeo.
Then, nothing for nine solid years until developer Atlus acquired the rights to various Technos properties and starting unleashing fantastic games on the Gameboy Advance, such as River City Ransom EX, Super Dodge Ball Advance, and the stellar revival/reboot Double Dragon Advance in 2003.
Fast-forwarding through remakes like the great Double Dragon on iOS and the shitty Double Dragon II: Wanderer of the Dragons on Xbox Live, there was one more somewhat-major release in 2012's Double Dragon Neon, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the series and doesn't take itself too seriously.
So now that we've got all the major releases out of the way, I'm going to edit that down to exclude reboots and games that are not canon (I'm looking at you, The Shadow Falls).
That leaves us with Double Dragon, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Double Dragon III: Something About Stones and Return of Double Dragon.
Now we have Double Dragon IV, an official 2017 sequel brought to us by Arc System Works (ASW). From the company's own website, "Billy and Jimmy Lee are back and they’ve brought the 80’s with them except the battlefield has moved to Japan! Key team members involved in the 1987 arcade version including Original Planner, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, Designer, Koji Ogata, and Composer, Kazunaka Yamane, have teamed up to recreate the next chapter in the Double Dragon saga."
Look at that shit! Three original members from the original 1987 team!
If you haven't played the game yet or seen screen shots, you'll be surprised to find out that the ASW team decided to go the route of using character models (sprites, if you will) and music from the NES era, specifically the masterpiece that is the NES Double Dragon II: The Revenge.
I couldn't find the exact source, but I read that the events in DD3 take place before DD2, which essentially makes Double Dragon IV a direct sequel to DD2. This is the smartest thing they could have possibly done, and I have dreamed about this for decades, as DD2 has always been in my Top 3 NES games since the dawn of time (Mega Man 3 and Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight are my other favorites).
If the above information is true, then the timeline of the series is as follows:
Double Dragon III: Some Stones and Shit
Double Dragon II: The Revenge
Double Dragon IV: No Subtitle
Return of Double Dragon
DOUBLE DRAGON IV - THOUGHTS
Thoughts.... I'm thinking I should be playing the game instead of writing this ridiculously long blog. But I'm already here so...
Double Dragon IV is not without its faults. The story-line is the typical Marian gets kidnapped again (why??) and the the ending is kinda crap like it was written for all the snowflakes out there. This series was never about the story, it's about kicking ASS.
Most of your favorite moves are there, such as the headbutt, the cyclone spin kick, the hyper knee, the uppercut & jumpkick along with regular punches and forward kicks. The handy back kick is no longer there but there's a reverse punch that does the same thing just doesn't have the same reach. There's a few new moves too like the quick jumping roundhouse and this weird 45-degree angle screw attack thing that would be better suited in a Battletoads game.
You've got most of the cast from the NES Double Dragon II there, minus Abore or the ninja, plus some people from DD1 like
Linda & Abobo, and the bald guy from DD3. There are some new characters as well, I think four, not including the final battle which takes place on what looks like a beach of all places.
The music comes in two flavors, "Modern" which recycles music from the GBA title (and maybe something else, I don't remember), or "Retro" which recycles the NES 8-bit classic chiptunes. I went with "Retro", since it fits the visual style. The experience sends me on a time warp the the early 90s when I played the shit out of my NES all the time.
The game is 12 Missions long, the first few are short and easy, then the swarms come. You get a set of lives and a set of continues to get as far as you can. If you get a Game Over, you can continue from the last mission you completed. So if you died on Mission 10, you can start a new game on Mission 9.
There's also a two-player Duel Mode, just like the one you remember from the first NES port. You unlock additional characters by completing missions in the main game. And then once you complete the main game, a third mode called Tower is unlocked. In Tower, you have one life only to fight through as many floors as possible until you die. Series fans will be reminded of Survival Mode in the GBA Double Dragon Advance title. Same concept. Tower has rewards, though. Every few floors you complete, you'll unlock a new character who will then be available to play as in the Tower mode. Use those characters to get to certain floors and you'll unlock achievements, if you're into that stuff.
So that's more than enough to write on the topic. Double Dragon IV. Or Double Dragon II-2, or 2.5. It's awesome. No, it's beatiful. It makes me want to shed a tear. A literal tear. Yes. Eff yes. Buy it.
Also coming soon from ASW is River City Ransom: Underground. Look it up on Kickstarter. I backed it years ago. It's still not out yet, but it's coming at the end of February!
Pro Tip: Steam says the game is only compatible with Windows 7,8, and 10, but I installed it on Vista anyway and I've had no problems.