Monday 28 August 2023

Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragon Review (Switch)

The Double Dragon franchise has certainly been trying to get back into the mainstream mindset of gamers during the last few years. We’ve had the awesome Double Dragon Neon and more traditional Double Dragon 4 as well as several Technos carts on the Evercade and a collection on the Switch. Double Dragon Gaiden is the first of these games to try and mix the up the formula though.

As a result, Gaiden has a more cartoon look to it, closer to the recent Teenage Ninja Turtles game or Scott Pilgrim than what you might normally associate with the franchise. Initially, it’s a bit off putting but soon settles into the madness of the game and fits the overall chaotic style well.

Along with the change in how the game looks extra elements have been added into the core gameplay. The first thing you’ll notice is that a tag team system is in play. You pick two from an initial four characters (more can be unlocked with collectable tokens), with each having their own styles and moves. During play your partner can be tagged in to extend combos or simply give your other character a rest from being pummelled. As well as this, each character also has three special moves which can be used when a meter is filled. Hitting enough enemies with these creates health drops and they prove key to getting through the game.

The next big change is the addition of a few rogue-like elements. You initially have four stages to pick from. Each area has a different theme and boss and can be tackled in any order. However, each level you complete adds another section to the next. So, the first area you take on will lead you straight to the boss, but the next will add another stage and mini boss in between, and then the next area will have two stages and two mini bosses etc. It’s an interesting approach and one that adds some variety to multiple play throughs as it’ll take a good few runs to see everything the game has to offer.

At the end of each area you can buy upgrades with the money collected from bashing the various goons along the way. These range from power ups to specific moves, new skills, tokens or simply taking the money. It’s important to consider what best fits your characters needs as the game gets rough late in the day. Any tokens you collect along the way can be sused to unlock extra features and the boss characters as playable as well, each of which dramatically alters your way of playing.

Overall, Double Dragon Gaiden is a departure from the normal format we have come to expect from the franchise but it’s one that works. If there are any small complaints, it’s that the game can become repetitive at times as it takes a while to get through each run. Over use of the special moves is also an issue as really the best way to get through each level is just to spam and recharge them via enemy take downs. That said this is a vibrant and fun take on Double Dragon and it’s certainly worth checking out for scrolling fighter fans or fans of the franchise in general.

Overall 8/10

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