Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is a side-scrolling beat-em-up released on 27th July 2023 and is available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. The game follows the continuing adventures of the Double Dragon brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee who we are familiar with from Double Dragon games going back to their first appearance in 1987 Double Dragon.
Two heads are better than one!
I absolutely loved Double Dragon when I had a chance to get my hands on it following its release. I was drawn into the story as you took control of one of the brothers battling your way through the streets. Playing it with friends was just as rewarding. What are your favorite side-scrolling fighting games similar to this? Let us know in the comments!
I went into this game not knowing what to expect from this game and I was worried it would be a lackluster attempt. It turns out I needn’t have been worried. The blue and red brothers are back with a bang with the help of some new characters added to their roster. A quick animated story to set the scene introduces you to the game. “It’s the year 199X, and nuclear war has devastated New York City leaving its citizens to fight for survival as riots and crime engulf the streets”. You also learn it’s a prequel depicting the origins of the Double Dragon brothers.
Ready for action I take to the streets after choosing a duo of fighters from the choices given. The game gives you thirteen characters from the start. For the first time playing it, I chose Billy and Jimmy. Both have their own abilities and can be used for different situations. Billy Lee (blue) traverses across the screen quickly and lays in quick attacks with finesse whereas Jimmy is more of a slow brawler. Unlike the original, you can tag in the second character you chose which quickly swaps them out. While one is in action the other will regain health over time.
You are introduced to regions of the city each with their own boss. As you work through the regions each other region gets wind of the brothers and increases their defences and also increases the amount of levels. There are four bosses in total each with their own theme and backdrop. For example, there’s a modern-day Egyptian god who has made a home in the city making a pyramid out of compressed cars. After each level, you are given the option to spend any cash you earn on skills. Cash can be squired by smashing up objects or performing combos and crowd control moves. Crowd control is where you despatch many enemies in one go.
Soon after starting the game, I got into a routine of mashing the attack button. I also fell back into the age-old routine of moving into another horizontal line to easily avoid enemy attacks. The enemies were varied and always proved a challenge. There were some which shot you with machine guns, some had sharp claws and some pounded the ground creating shockwaves. Just as you get used to one form of attack the game throws at you a unique and more challenging attack to spice things up. Luckily, food is left on the streets for you to pick up, dust off and eat to regain essential HP lost in these battles. Back to full health, you can lay waste to the enemies which don’t seem to fade away but lie there greyed out somewhat morbidly.
Graphics & Audio
Some effort has been made to give Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons a retro feel giving us a healthy dose of nostalgia. While it does this well, it also is given a fresh overhaul. The characters look more cartoon/comic-like with enlarged heads and action words such as “pow!” and “ka-chuck!” further lend to the theme. Each level seems to have been painstakingly designed with complex backdrops and level furniture. Every new scene is vibrant and eye-catching but not detracting from the characters or enemies on screen.
One of the developer’s aims for Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is replayability. They have offered up many game modes including permadeath and infinite mode. This is so that you can play until either your button-mashing finger gets tired or the controller wears out. The developers state: “Experience endless playthrough possibilities with a dynamic mission select function; the order in which you choose your mission will affect mission length, number of enemies, and overall difficulty”. I completed the four main boss areas of the city in just over an hour but felt I could easily go back into it and be entertained by the variety on offer. The game also boasts a local split screen. I may convince my son to walk down memory lane as a Dragon brother playing it with me.
A solid side-scrolling action adventure beat-em-up. I loved being reunited with Double Dragon in all its revamped glory and enjoyed my time playing it. I’ll no doubt dip into the game from time to time or even play it split-screen with friends and family. There’s tons of replayability and it’s challenging enough especially with the various difficulty modes for it not to get boring quickly. I’d recommend this game to anyone who enjoys these types of beat-em-up games.
I award Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons Thumb Cultures Silver Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.