Dark Light
Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons

Gameffine presents Double Dragon: Rise of the Dragons Review. Jay from Gameffine take an in-depth look at Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons, the newest sequel/spin-off to the long-running IP

Product Brand: Modus Games

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: $21.24

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:

The last few years have been particularly kind to fans of the Beat ’em up/brawler genre. Streets of Rage 4, River City Girls, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, etc. managed to rejuvenate the genre which has been flying under the radar since the glory days of the XBLA. The newest member to join this list of throwback brawlers is also one of its pioneers. Double Dragon is a household name for people who grew up with Arcades, NES or Famiclones in particular. Thanks to poor decisions and rushed projects, the series stagnated before it could reach the height of popularity enjoyed by its peers. Nevertheless, Double Dragon enjoys a loyal cult following to this day. Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is the newest entry in the long-running franchise in an effort to breathe new life into Bimmy ‘n’ Jammy. Let’s see how it fares. Presenting Gameffine’s Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons review.

Return of the Dragons

Like the name suggests, Double Dragon Gaiden is sort-of-an alternate timeline prequel to the series. Set in the ’90s, a Nuclear Holocaust has left the city of New York ripe for crime and corruption. With the help of the mayor of NYC, Billy, Jimmy, Marian and Uncle Matin set out to clean up the streets, one crime boss at a time.

The storyline is as basic as it gets and for a game of its kind and, that’s completely fine. Each level in the game is governed by a boss thug, and there are four of them to take on. From the get-go, you are given the opportunity to tackle the levels in the order of your liking. This is where the “Roguelite” elements of the game comes into play. The order in which you choose missions will affect mission length, number of enemies, and overall difficulty. Earlier levels will be shorter with fewer mini-bosses, while latter levels are divided into multiple parts with multiple mini-bosses, traps and more.

While this mechanic really spruces up the replayability, there are only like five levels in the entire game and even at their longest variation, they’re pretty short. You can run through the whole game in about 2–3 hours and while the subsequent playthroughs can vary a bit depending on the order you do the missions, there still isn’t enough variety to warrant more than two playthroughs. 

Fury of the Dragons

At its core, Double Dragon Gaiden plays similar to any other side scrolling Beat ’em ups out there. While most modern Brawlers choose to go in a fast-paced direction, the combat of Double Dragon Gaiden is comparatively slower. The characters move very slowly, and button presses feels as if there’s a tiny amount of input lag associated with them. The combat is a mix between Double Dragon II and Super Double Dragon. While the combat is far flashier than the second entry, it lacks the grounded nuances of the SNES sequel. The gameplay took me a good while to get the hang of, as I’m used to a faster gameplay style. But once you get the hang of things, Double Dragon Gaiden becomes quite fun to play. Simple, but fun.

I’ve mentioned above that Double Dragon Gaiden lacks the combat complexity of Super Double Dragon. While that is generally true, Double Dragon Gaiden makes up with its HUGE roster of playable characters, each with their own unique movesets and attributes. The game features a whopping 13 playable characters, with 9 of them being unlockables using the in-game tokens. From the way they move to their basic attacks to specials, each character looks, feel and control totally different to each other. For example, Billy and Jimmy retain many of their classic moves, while Marian is literally armed with a pistol and can even pull out a rocker launcher out of her skirt.

Another standout feature of the game is the Tag system. What this means is that you can essentially pick two characters and switch between them seamlessly during gameplay. This system can be used in times of an emergency, to take a wounded character out of the action, or two spruce up your combos. When a character is tagged out and resting, they can recover some of their lost health and get back in the action sooner rather than later. A welcome addition to the genre!

The aforementioned Roguelite elements also makes their way into the gameplay of Double Dragon Gaiden. Whenever you clear a level (or a sub-sector if the level is large), each of the characters in action is given an option to pick an upgrade from a pool of random passives, abilities and bonuses. Stuff like flat damage increase, cash bonuses, special bar increase rate etc., once bought will remain active till the end of the run. On top of this, players are also given random challenges in exchange for cash, which in turn can be used to buy the tokens necessary for unlocking bonus materials and more playable characters. 

Budget Dragons

Double Dragon Gaiden is made by a very small team of people, and it shows. For one, the game currently lacks an online co-op mode, and it hurts the game a lot. Sure, there is a 2P local co-op mode available but imagine having no real-life friends. The developers have said that they are working on an online component, but not having it at launch sucks. Then, as I mentioned, aside from playing through the same levels to grind tokens to unlock new characters, there’s nothing much to do in the game. No arcade mode, no boss rush, no survival mode, nothing. Granted, you can tweak the difficulty and other modifiers to spice up subsequent playthroughs, but it just isn’t the same.

One other thing that might not appeal to all fans of the series is the new art design. Double Dragon Gaiden goes for a Mighty Final Fight/ Scott Pilgrim look with chonky character models and a cartoonish black outline on objects. It didn’t bother me much, and I even found it pretty appealing (YMMV). The levels have enough variety and detail packed within them, and the music is pretty cool as well. There are very few platforming sections (we all know everyone “loves” platforming in DD) and the game also maintains a tight pace throughout. 

I did run into a few bugs here and there, forcing me to restart entire levels. The game crashed twice on me and there were instances I got completely cockblocked, unable to progress past certain level triggers. The game also doesn’t have a combo list menu. You have to figure out most of the combos and attacks through trial and error. 

Real Talk

Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is an appreciable attempt from a small team of devs who are well-versed in its legacy. Huge character variety, Tag system and the Roguelite elements are welcome additions to the long-stagnant IP, and it can be a genuinely fun game at times. However, it does not always hit the right notes. A criminally short campaign, the lack of additional gameplay modes and the TBA online co-op makes it a tough sell when SoR and TMNT have offer so much more at a cheaper price point. If I were you, I’d wait for some content updates before taking the plunge.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts