Very true to the NES form, the fighting animations and overall pace of the game is also almost straight out of Double Dragon II. Billy and Jimmy have all of the Sosetsuken moves they have demonstrated up to that point in the time line such as Punch, Kick, Headbutt, Jump Kick, Elbow, Spin Kick, Head-Grab, Knee, and Shoulder-Toss. This also includes the moves introduced in Double Dragon II such as the famed Cyclone Kick as well as the moves performed from a crouched state: Hyper Uppercut and High Jump Kick. New moves introduced in Double Dragon IV such as the Spinning HeadButt, Jump Elbow, and Axe Kick add some salt and pepper to moves that are already in place.
This game is built to be nostalgic, and you’ll find that in every aspect of the game. In this case, the pace of NES Double Dragon games may feel slow to the newer gamers of today’s day and age. However, the pace is exactly as it was back on the NES. That said, all of the fun of Double Dragon is still there. Kick baddies in the gut, pull their hair, apply a couple knees, and then toss them over your shoulder in to a pit. The Cyclone Kick is still a great high-risk-high-reward move in that it leaves you VERY open if you miss. The crouched state moves have a lot of priority in that they will almost always interrupt an enemy’s attack if you pull them off when getting up from the ground. You don’t have to be knocked down to pull them off however. You can always trigger them after landing from a jump or the Spin Kick.
As soon as I learned that, Spin Kick into High Jump Kick became the answer to the majority of enemy encounters in Story Mode. Enemy juggling was also newly introduced in Double Dragon IV. So if the Spin Kick connects, the enemy is juggled and left open to receive the High Jump Kick. If the Spin Kick misses but the enemy is still in front of you, the High Jump Kick will probably still hit them. If the High Jump Kick connects, then your enemies are sent flying quite a distance in the opposite direction. Great for clearing people off of a ledge!
Beyond that, the Story Mode is about finding out what each baddie does and how to stay away from whatever their specialty is. At the beginning, you’re eased into the game with most of the same bad guys holding off on pulling off their fancier moves on you. As you progress, those same baddies as well as new ones all of a sudden start to show off their various move sets. This is all fine and par for the course with beat-em-ups, especially ones that came out around the time that this game is trying to emulate.
Where you may find some annoyance is in the higher amount of obstacle courses that this game seems to have over its processors. Obstacle sections, where you have to traverse pits or timed traps, were always a part of the original Double Dragon games. Expanding on that, so were those same trap areas with a sprinkling of bad guys. Whether I was just unlucky or not, this game more than the others did a “good job” at having bad guys stationed at “opportune” areas around the traps.
Timed your jump perfectly over the lava pit? Doesn’t matter. Chin plans to slap you in mid-air so that you land in it anyways.
A minor annoyance given your generous collection of lives and continues; A major one if you’re a maniac that wanted to complete the game on a single life or even a single continue. Happy Jumping!
If you can’t complete the Story Mode in one go, don’t feel too bad. Not hinted by the game at all, I found that pressing your designated “start/pause” button at the main screen toggles between all of the story stages that you’ve fully completed. So just hop back into the last completed stage and power through the story. There, you beat the game. Don’t worry about whether you feel satisfied or not, because here is where Double Dragon IV’s replay value finally presents itself. More on the next page…