Review: Double Dragon IV (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Double Dragon IV
Format: PSN (556 MB)
Release Date: January 30, 2017
Publisher: Arc System Works
Developer: Arc System Works
Original MSRP: $6.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
I have a ridiculously soft spot for brawlers. Streets of Rage 2 is still one of my favorite games of all time and I probably replay it once every couple of months. Double Dragon holds a similar spot, but in terms of its console port, I find that it has aged less gracefully than others.

So the decision to release this sequel to that old franchise with the same visual aesthetic and limitations of the console port versus, say, the arcade version was a risk. Sure, I could see situations where this type of thing would work well, like Nintendo releasing a new Zelda that emulates the look and feel of Link to the Past.

In that example, we’re dealing with tried and true gameplay that has stood the test of time and is just as playable and enjoyable as it was years ago. With Double Dragon, this is not the case. I know this because I recently purchased the NES Classic and I tried playing Double Dragon II with a friend. We lost interest a few minutes in. The mechanics behind this series just don’t hold up.

Collision detection feels weak and even though you are causing damage, the visual representation of such is so underwhelming that you may as well be punching nothing at all. Of course, the “cheaty” nature of these games made it through untouched. Enemies knock you on your ass the moment you recover from being knocked down, causing you to scramble on the controller in order to try and break the endless loop of ass-kicking before you lose a life.

While I did not find the gameplay engaging, I will say that if the nostalgic bug in you considers this series and its gameplay a classic, then you might find some level of enjoyment here. I simply believe that time has not looked favorably upon this version of the brawler. At least there is a dedicated jump button so you don’t have to mash two buttons at the same time in order to do a jump kick.

Visuals:
Apart from the 1080p resolution, the game looks and moves just as you remember it, which is great if you are looking for that authenticity. The animation is just as crude and limited as you recall. Again, if you were considering this sequel because of its attention to the evocation of the warm fuzzies of nostalgia, then this will be blissfully appropriate for those anticipations.

In fact, there is even some screen tearing and I never quite figured out whether or not it was by design. The problem here lies in the above gameplay aspect where an uglier older game also plays like it used to, which is not great. But to fault a game aiming to look like its ancient self would be an unfair judgment since the visual style was consciously decided upon.

… co-op should be the sole reason for your purchasing consideration …
Audio:
There’s not much to say here. The style does not match the visual era of the game. It’s much more akin to the 16-bit generation. There are some catchy tunes accompanying your short journey and some of the effects are appropriately executed, but nothing stands out as particularly outstanding or noteworthy. Connecting with your enemy’s face doesn’t quite sound like a punch.

Online/Multiplayer:
Playing this game with a friend certainly adds a semblance of fun to the experience and alleviates some of the annoyances with ruthless enemies pouncing you since your buddy can come to the rescue. In fact, I would say that playing this co-op should be the sole reason for your purchasing consideration.

Conclusion:
I’m going to score this game right down the middle. If I were to judge it based on its own merits, the score might be considerably lower, but I’m going to factor in that some of you might be interested in this because of what it represents: a sequel to a classic game, for some anyway, that emulates the style and look of its predecessors for better or worse.

If you are among that group, then you may enjoy this trip down memory lane, particularly with that same friend that you shared those experiences with when you were a kid. If you are, however, one of those younger gamers that likes to see what all the “fuss” was about with these otherwise “classic” titles, then this is one that you may want to pass on. There’s really nothing to see here and it might make some of us older gamers seem senile and completely delusional when we talk about the good old days.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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