Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons Review – BRINGING THE WOW WITH KU-POW!

It’s been 6 years since Double Dragon IV launched to a not-so-great reception, but fans have still been clamouring for a return to the glory days of the original two games. Even though the series has been on the slipperiest of slopes for some time now, Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons has promised to deliver a tip-top return to form. Has it achieved this goal? Will Billy and Jimmy become household names like peanut butter and jelly? Probably not! However, there’s still an awesome fighting game to sink (smash) your teeth into here.

Our mini VIDEO REVIEW of Double Dragon Gaiden!

The Way of the Fist

Bringing back that old-school, beat ‘em up flavour with some slick sprite-work, unlockable characters and classic 90’s typos, the game features 4 levels of varying length—depending on the order you choose—that can be kicked to the curb in about an hour and a half, which is a tad too short for my tastes. Albeit, Double Dragon Gaiden still delivers some chunky punches, roundhouse kicks and abilities that Chuck Norris could only dream of. Setting up a mine and grenade-launching foes from afar as Marian? Oh, yeah! Flying across the screen as Billy with a glowing dragon foot of justice? A-Booyah!

The game’s juggle, crowd control and special KOs are awesome. How it works is that when players knock down 3 or more enemies in one combo or use a special move to finish off a foe, they’ll frequently be rewarded with health pick-ups and cash they can spend on upgrades and tokens for extra continues. A fair amount of said upgrades are stackable too, like 2x more melee damage when pushed under 50% health, for example. On the other hand, you can forego upgrading entirely to focus on increasing your cash for reviving later on, so this cool rogue-lite element encourages players to experiment or play it safe depending on their play style. Especially since the cost of being revived increases every time they get knocked down during each run.

The best part is that the difficulty is completely customisable.

The best part is that the difficulty is completely customisable. Not only can players choose between infinite continues, 3 continue tokens and permadeath for higher stakes, but the devs have also included sliders for revival costs, enemy aggression, upgrade expenses and more to tailor the game to their skill level. Friends can even tackle the campaign together in 2-player local co-op for extra assistance, with an online mode coming later in the year. But solo fighters, fret not. They can tag in one of several characters to continue a combo or bail their partner out of a sticky stun-lock situation. Perfect for those late-game boss encounters who really pack on the pressure with tricky-to-deal-with, wide-reaching moves and an overwhelming amount of goons to dispatch.

Almost Non-Stop Action

Throughout the four levels of Double Dragon Gaiden, fighters will also have to engage in a bit of lite platforming and try to avoid stage hazards like falling debris, spikes or explosions which can cause some serious damage. Conversely, these hazards can utterly destroy your opponents as well. So you could potentially bust out a devastating combo, then let the environment finish someone off like a 90’s action movie star casually strolling away from an explosion. Ka-Blam!

This guy’s in for a world of hurt.

That same old-school action style of presentation applies to the story. In other words, it’s bare-bones at best. Yet for some reason, it contains multiple endings. Big question mark there… In all seriousness though, I know people aren’t expecting this narrative to be anything but filler, though it would be nice if there was slightly more effort put in. I keep wondering whether that huge typo I alluded to before was intentional however, because it immediately dials up the camp up to 11, which is truly what this game thrives on. Then again, it could just be a simple typo at the end of the day, but you never know!

I honestly can’t get the main theme out of my head, it’s so good!

Regardless, the rocking electrical guitars and drums from the game’s soundtrack more than make up for the story’s shortcomings, with classic eighth-note melodies and power chords that will forcibly demand your head to start banging on repeat. I honestly can’t get the main theme out of my head, it’s so good!


After all has been said and done, this game has carefully evaded the same fate as Double Dragon IV. Even though this side story is quite short in length and doesn’t bring anything particularly unique or special to the table, Double Dragon Gaiden is still one knock-out punch of a good time. Since the game is fairly approachable and straightforward to control, it actively encourages players to try out different special moves and fighters, alongside being able to adjust five separate difficulty sliders and choose between a continue-based system or a permadeath option found in traditional rogue-likes. Unlockable characters, stackable upgrades and varying level designs based on player preference also form a sizeable chunk of the game’s replay value.

By Anthony Culinas


Double Dragon Gaiden is a short, yet very sweaty experience. The fast and furious combos and special moves make smacking goons feel very satisfying, while the pumping music and tag-team mechanics add in several layers of excitement. The story is as filler as it gets, but the 90’s style presentation, silky sprite-work and smooth performance on Nintendo Switch are surprisingly impressive.

This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Modus Games. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.

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