Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons from Secret Base, Arc System Works, and Modus Games is a new roguelite take on the beloved beat ‘em up series. Learn more in our Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons review!
Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons from Secret Base, Arc System Works, and Modus Games is a new roguelite take on the beloved beat ‘em up series. The series got its start way back in 1987 with the original release in arcades from Technōs Japan and Taito. The franchise found its way to the Nintendo Entertainment System – a.k.a. the NES – with a port of said arcade game. It was followed by two additional arcade games that were also ported to the NES. The fourth game in the series was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. There were also Double Dragon games on the Game Boy, the Game Gear, the Sega Genesis, and the Game Boy Advance. WayForward then got a chance to take the franchise for a spin with Double Dragon Neon.
Having grown up playing all of the arcade games in the Double Dragon series – and their NES ports – I’ve been more than happy to review many Double Dragon games. I’ve gotten a chance to review Double Dragon on PlayStation 3, a PSN port of a Neo-Geo adaptation of the Double Dragon live-action movie – yes, there was a movie. I reviewed Double Dragon IV, the game that was set as a direct sequel to Double Dragon II, featuring 8-bit graphics straight from that prequel. I even reviewed the Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle, an excellent collection that brings many games in the Double Dragon and Kunio-Kun series, including 11 games that never got a release outside of Japan.
And now, let’s talk about Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons. The game takes place in the year 199X, and nuclear war has devastated New York City. Its citizens must fight to survive the riots as crime engulfs the city. Criminal gangs have taken over each of the four areas of the city as they try to rule everything. It’s up to young Billy and Jimmy Lee, Marian, and the mighty Uncle Marti to act before it’s too late. The new Mayor has contacted them so that they can help put an end to the current situation.
You’ll control your selected character with the left analog stick or the D-Pad. Press and hold down the R1 button to run. You can attack with the Square button, jump – and double jump – with the X button, and jump attack by pressing the Square button after jumping. The Triangle button will activate your special move. When you do this, your special meter will go into a cooldown period. To speed up its recovery, be sure to hit or defeat an enemy! And if you want to tag another character, you can do so by pressing the L1 button once your special meter is full. This can be used to defend yourself or to extend your combo. Pressing the Circle button will allow Billy, Jimmy, and Uncle Matin to grab an enemy. Marian will roll forward to dodge and pick up items.
Each of the different characters will have a special move for defense, range, and one that is unique to them. You can check them out in the move list section from the pause menu. Billy can use the Whirlwind Dragon, Soaring Dragon, and Diving Dragon. Jimmy has the Dragon’s Flame, Dragon’s Rage, and Dragon’s Claw. Marian changes things up and uses a variety of weapons, unleashing the Muon Mine Trap, Rocket Launcher and using a rope for a Police Arrest. Uncle Matin has the Power Bomb, Charging Shield, and Flying Neckbreaker.
By playing through the game’s Story Mode, you’ll be able to earn more and more of the in-game cash, which will be converted into tokens once you get a game over. Tokens can be used at the Token Shop to unlock additional stuff – more on this in a bit. When you start a new game, you can select the difficulty. In general, the easier the difficulty, the more cash you’ll need to be able to get tokens. If you use a special move to defeat an enemy, you’ll get a special KO, which will reward you with bonus cash.
Once you’re ready to go and select your primary and secondary character – that is, if you’re taking on this new adventure on your own – you’ll then be ready to select one of the available missions so that you can take down the leader for each gang. Along with that, each mission will have you aiming at completing bonus objectives so that you can gain additional cash for your efforts. Get a set number of special KO or perform a large Crowd Control and collect that extra cash!
Cash can also be spent to revive yourself or to buy upgrades at the end of each sector. Since you need cash at the end of your run to trade for tokens, you’ll have to be wise about your spending habits! To extend your run, you should work on setting up combos so that you can KO three or more enemies at once. Doing this will allow you to achieve Crowd Control, which will reward you with food to replenish some of your HP. The bigger the Crowd Control, the better the food!
What can you get at the Token Shop with your hard-earned tokens? For starters, there are additional characters you can unlock to play the game! As you can probably tell from the header image and trailer for this Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons review, you start with Billy and Jimmy Lee unlock, as well as with Marian and Uncle Matin. You could spend your tokens to unlock Abobo, Burnov, Chin Tai Mei, Linda, M.G. Willy, Duke, Anubis, Lady Okada, and a final secret character.
There’s also a tips section where you can get some extra information on combo damage, attack types, attack efficiency, enemy stats, range, jump invulnerability, and more. Another section is for art, where you can unlock a variety of design docs for Billy, Jimmy, Marian, the heroes, M.G. Willy, Duke, and the different areas that you’ll be exploring. The last section in the Token Shop is for music, and it’s there that you’ll be able to spend tokens to unlock the game’s soundtrack so that you can listen to them when you want to.
You can tailor your experience as you please, thanks to the different game modifiers at your disposal. Select between single-player tag or two-player co-op, decide if you can continue infinitely or by spending 3 tokens, or if you’ll play with permadeath. You can also change your character’s health between the default option or either lower it twice or increase it twice. Lower or increase the revive cost, upgrade cost, enemy stats, and enemy aggression, and this will directly affect the exchange rate for tokens.
The game has a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy, and since it’s a Cross-Buy release, if you own a PlayStation5 console, you can download both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game. Each trophy list will have 2 Bronze trophies, 9 Silver trophies, and 8 Gold trophies for you to work on unlocking. Trophies will pop as you trigger Crowd Control x3, x4, and x5 for the first time, clear your fist mission, get the different endings that the game has to offer, special KO 3,000 enemies in total, achieve Crowd Control 100 times, have more than 100 tokens a once, perform more than 600 special KO in a single session, earn 10 tokens in a single session, unlock more than 6 playable characters, more than 20 pieces of artwork, and more than 20 songs from the game’s soundtrack.
Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons brings us a new take on the long-running and beloved beat ‘em up series by adding roguelite elements. The gameplay is solid. The game’s Chibi-esque pixel art is an art style that grows on you as you meet new enemies and new bosses after exploring their turfs which grow in power depending on the order in which you decide to explore each major area. There are four characters to choose from, with many more to unlock with the tokens that you can purchase between stages or obtain after a run by cashing in on all of the earnings you managed to collect. There’s also a Platinum trophy to aim for, and since this is a Cross-Buy title, if you own a PS5 console, you can work on trophy runs for both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game. Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is out today with a $24.99 price tag.
This Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Modus Games.