Have you ever wondered what would happen to New York City if a nuclear war were to take place and a bunch of gangs took over as a result of that? Well that’s exactly what you get with Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of The Dragon. A 2D side scroller arcade styled beat’em up that allows up to two players to go around and beat up post apocalyptic gang members in order to restore order to their city. Developed by Secret Base Pte this fun action packed arcade game shows exactly how fun these arcade games can be for average players and fans.
Another element to keep in mind is that this game is a rebooted sequel. This series has had a history of multiple games starting from 1987 to now with each one having a different art style like 2D or 3D CGI with some looking and playing better than others. While it’s difficult to tell how they individually stand out in terms of which games are still playable Double Dragon Gaiden:Rise of the Dragons is definitely a great rebooted sequel that brings fun gameplay that most players and fans of the series will love.
The first Double Dragon game that was released in 1987 spear headed the success of Arcade Beat’em ups and influenced the creation of many games within the genre. While it’s technical difficulties on the NES would be considered problematic by today’s standards of gaming it’s gameplay and presentation still left a very big impression on both the genre and the players who played it both in the arcade and the NES. The same can be said about it’s sequel Double Dragon 2 which released the following year in 1988. This sequel improved upon the original with better technology, gameplay, and even bigger presentation with its level designs. It took what most video game sequels should do take what made the first one successful and improve upon them with better technology. Over the years and decades the Double Dragon series has had a lot of ups and downs but mostly downs. The developers did their best to make this game series as popular as it was in the late 80’s but it wasn’t really generating as big of a buzz as it did with it’s first two games, however with this much recent installment in the series and the many other arcade styled beat’em ups that released this year it’s safe to say that this genre has regained it’s flame along along with this series that inspired their creations.
The story of Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is that in the year 199X a nuclear war has devastated New York City and the destruction has led to complete and total anarchy. The citizens have turned to violence in order to survive the chaos as riots and criminals take over the streets. The chaos has resulted in criminal gangs taking over what remains of New York City who want nothing more than to spread their influence and chaos. Unwilling to cooperate with the chaos of the gangs, young Billy and Jimmy Lee set out to put an end to the gang’s reign of terror. With their police friend Marion and uncle Matin by their side these four fighters will do whatever they can to bring justice back to New York City.
The gameplay of Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is very easy and simple to learn. 1.) The left stick and the D pad both can be used to move your character. 2.) The X button is the main attack button. 3.) The A button is the jump button which when pressed again activates the double jump. 4.)There are three different Super-moves, Y activates the characters the first Super-move, LT activates the second one, and the third ability is activated by pressing RT. 5.) The B button activates a special action ability. 6.) Finally holding RB activates the sprint ability.
What makes Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons stand out from other arcade games I’ve played is how easy the first level is and how the other levels adapt after completing that first level. What I mean by this is that whichever level the player chooses to complete first the other levels adapt to become more challenging by adding more territory and enemies to fight. Each level has three different stages depending on which order the player chooses to complete them. The first one being the shortest and easiest with all the enemies being easy to defeat along with the boss, the second level adds a second stage with more enemies and territory being added for extra difficulty, then with the final level it adds three stages with many stronger enemies and more areas to explore. The boss fight of the final level also becomes more exciting and challenging.
Each level in Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is unique because of their different levels which add more secret rooms to explore, Power ups to discover, secret items to find, and a variety of enemies to fight. Each level has their own unique personality depending on which level the player picks. For instance one level had me go from exploring a casino to traveling through an underground mine. There are also many unique territories that each gang resides in such as one where the gang leader that goes by Anubis has taken over a junkyard in the lower east side and has converted it into an Egyptian pyramid. After completing stages/levels the player can use the coins that they have earned to upgrade their characters or buy tokens once per stage each upgrade either adds more damage to their super moves or gives them a special support ability that keeps them in the fight longer.
While the game does start off with 4 characters the game actually has a total of 13 playable characters with the other 9 being unlockable through a token shop with the tokens being earned by completing levels. The other 9 characters are the villains that can be encountered throughout the game. Each of them have their own unique abilities and animations so none of them are reskins with the same abilities but with different colors or effects but actual fully fleshed out characters.
The soundtrack for the game is very energetic and enjoyable to listen to. It definitely helped to amplify the combat experience and set the tone for some of the dramatic scenes even if there are not many cutscenes in this game.
Overall Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is a really fun game with a large amount of replayability. There are multiple endings for this game and multiple characters to unlock and play as for multiple runs. Despite not having online Co-op on release and instead having couch CO-OP with only one friend I can still safely say that this game is still a great time to play.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed on Xbox One