Double Dragon IV - a reminder of hardware limitations of the 90's
2012's Double Dragon Neon was an ironic and deeply-flawed revival of the classic 90's side-scrolling beat-em-up Double Dragon.
While the ceaseless worship of 80's 'outrun' tropes and horrific gameplay meant that Double Dragon Neon ended up a terrible mess of a game, at least the modern reimagining meant it would never be mistaken for a game that could have been released thirty years ago.
Enter Double Dragon IV: A game that could very easily suffer from such a case of mistaken chronology. Double Dragon IV is a direct sequel to the NES version of Double Dragon II (oddly enough, not Double Dragon III).
This is a very strange incidence of a game being released that could very literally have appeared on the 30-year-old gaming system and felt right at home.
While this might sound great if you have a fondness for the 8-bit era, the reality tells a different and much harsher story.
Granted, the Double Dragon games still hold a special place in the hearts of many gamers, but they are products of their time. Sega's Streets of Rage, for example, will always be remembered as the top brawler of the 90's, so it is odd that Double Dragon would see such an uninspired revival.
Double Dragon IV stubbornly replicates the NES games' graphics and mechanics, complete with incredibly annoying screen tearing and flickering. Characters are crudely drawn, hit detection is ropey, and the gameplay itself wavers between mindless and unfair.
Some enemies stand around senselessly or rush blindly at you, and others start attacking with projectiles before they even appear onscreen.
Compared to a modern brawler, the moveset - though slightly enhanced since the early '90s - is limited. You have a punch, kick, jump kick, and a couple of minor "special" moves like an uppercut.
Double Dragon IV isn't a good game by modern standards, and neither is it a conjurer of teary-eyed nostalgia.
If anything, it is a reminder of how far we have come since the hardware limitations of the 90's and that really is the only credit I can give to this bizzare game.
Double Dragon IV