Double Dragon IV

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Double Dragon IV Game Poster Image
Dated sequel is ugly, annoying, full of mindless violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Suggests fighting is a valid means of solving many problems.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two main fighters obviously the "good guys," fighting to save those they care about. But they never attempt to work out grievances by talking, preferring instead to leap into battle, which they clearly enjoy.

Ease of Play

Outdated controls, limited lives make for a frustrating experience.

Violence

Players fight male, female humans using martial arts moves -- punches, kicks, elbows, head butts -- and found weapons, including knives, whips. Boxes, rocks can be thrown at enemies; characters can fall, drown in molten metal. Characters shout out when struck, then fall, disappear once defeated. Small amount of blood shown from attacks on certain characters.

Sex

Some female characters have clearly oversized breasts, though rudimentary graphics, small character models prohibit detail.

Language

"Bastard" appears in text between missions.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Double Dragon IV is a downloadable sequel to an old brawling franchise. One or two players will punch and kick their way through a series of short side-scrolling levels filled with human villains, both male and female. Defeated enemies cry out, then flash a couple of times before disappearing. Certain characters bleed a small amount. The story is limited to a few lines of text dialogue between missions and provides just enough information for the heroes to know where to go and whom to beat up next. The protagonists never try to resolve situations with anything other than violence.

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What's it about?

Designed to emulate its classic predecessors, DOUBLE DRAGON IV is a side-scrolling brawler where the famous Lee brothers -- a pair of experts in the fictional martial art of Sosetsuken -- continue their fight against evil gangs. Aside from the music, not much has been updated from the original franchise. The graphics have the same blocky, pixelated appearance as that in the original games, and the controls emulate the three-button arcade cabinet experience of the 1980s. The story is also told in era-appropriate fashion, with a couple of still images accompanied by a few lines of text filling the short space between missions. Finishing the main campaign provides access to a single-life tower mode that allows players to fight floors of enemies using a variety of characters unlocked during the story.

Is it any good?

There's next to no value in this curious rehash of an old and nearly forgotten series to anyone except those who played the original games -- and probably not even them. Arc System Works has stayed unflinchingly true to the series, crafting a new game that recreates the look and feel of its predecessors almost perfectly. But the effort is a little too sincere. There's no sly wink in its poorly written dialogue, no subtle updates to the interface or action to acknowledge that there's a reason why games have evolved. Players are going to die endless times trying to make simple platformer-style jumps, and they're going to wonder in frustration why some of their punches and kicks connect with characters on a slightly higher plane while others do not.

Sadly, the one truly novel addition to the series -- the nearly endless Tower mode, which lets players choose from a wide variety of playable characters -- isn't available until you've finished the game, and that's a feat that's far from guaranteed. The story mode is short, but players have limited lives. There's a pretty good chance many people will give up on the brawling monotony after dying during the ninth mission two or three times in a row. Even those with fond memories spending quarters playing Double Dragon IV's precursors in the arcade aren't likely to get much enjoyment from this poorly planned sequel beyond its soothingly familiar theme song. Bottom line? Don't waste your time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in the media. Double Dragon IV plays a lot like a mindless 1980s action movie, providing little understanding of the conflict and even less opportunity for peaceful resolution, but has this changed in more modern games?

  • Talk about differences between older books and movies compared with older games. Do you think games age well compared with other media? The best movies and books from decades past stand the test of time to be enjoyed by contemporary audiences; will this be the case with video games?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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