Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is a great time with great ideas

Secret Base, Modus Games
Secret Base, Modus Games /
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Game – Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons
Publisher – Secret Base Pte Ltd
Developer – Modus Games
Platforms – Nintendo Switch (reviewed on), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, PC
Release Date – July 27, 2023

I was honestly really hesitant when I first heard about Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragon. A friend of mine was the first person to show me. They weren’t flattering. I believe the phrase was, “remember how Shredder’s Revenge and Streets of Rage 4 classic beat ’em ups were revived? I think some other company was like, ‘crap those made money, what license was available.'” And, admittedly, at first glance from screen shots and the debut I’ll be honest, it looked like the “we have food at home” version of Streets of Rage 4.

Which is why I’m so happy I was actually given the chance to play it cause I was super-dee-dooper-dee wrong. It’s really good and, in some regards actually better than the recent DotEmu games I’ve been enjoying so much.

Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons starts you off with four characters; B̶i̶m̶m̶y̶ Billy, Jimmy, Marian, and Uncle Matin. Each plays dramatically different. From Billy focusing on kicks to Jimmy focusing on punches. And from Uncle Matin using power attacks with a massive riot shield to Marian…shooting everything (I’m not playing, she has a gun. It’s insane.)

Over time you can unlock other characters as well. Including fan favorite characters like the character I was most excited to unlock: Abobo.

Double-Dragon-Gaiden-Abobo
Double-Dragon-Gaiden-Abobo /

This is, already, a perk that the game kinda has over DotEmu titles is that one of the first things you wonder upon beating one of their games is wondering when the DLC comes out so you can play through with new characters. Double Dragon’s like “nah, if you keep playing you can just unlock them without paying for anything.” It’s a TRUE throw back to yesteryear when you were rewarded for playing the game instead of having disposable income or the patience to wait a year plus for new DLC to drop.

And to keep it even further from going stale you actually pick two characters. Primary and secondary. Your primary is the character you start off with, but lets say an enemy is punching you, tap the tag button to break the enemies combo and switch with your secondary character. Your primary goes and recovers a little bit of health while you beat up the stunned enemies. It’s a cool idea that the game does really well breaking up that obnoxious moment in all beat ’em ups when the enemy or a boss cheeses you into a combo.

Another interesting idea that the game introduces is how its stages are thrown together. You have four main stages to pick from each with wildly different looks to them and their own eccentric mob bosses at the end but there’s a catch.

When you pick the first stage, they have no idea you’re coming for them so you play through the first part of an area, catching enemies unaware and then encounter the boss at the end of the first part of a stage.

Double-Dragon-Gaiden-Bosses
Double-Dragon-Gaiden-Bosses /

Once you beat the first stage, the remaining bosses hear the news and go into hiding while bolstering their forces. So the second stage you pick will have tougher and/or more enemies and the mob boss will be at the end of the second part of a stage instead of the first. This continues where every time you beat a stage the remaining bosses prepare all the way down to the final of the four having a full four part stage with strong enemies and a tough boss fight.

This really changes up things because all stages have their own secret areas and fun gimmicks and you can only see certain stages based off the order you choose so it changes things up a lot and makes different play-throughs unique. Though, I’ll be honest, I would have loved two or three extra bosses in there to occasionally make the selection of four stages change that a bit more. But it’s still a fantastic idea.

The multiplayer is great as well. While it is a bit of a let down that you can’t have more than two players, having two players that each can tag in secondary characters equals a lot of fun variety.

With a total of 13 playable characters and a slew of stages to discover with a slew of interesting ways to play, Double Dragon Gaiden is a fantastic time for those into beat ’em up and couch co-op fun times. Get on it.

Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragon (Switch) Score: 8.5/10

While I didn’t go into this game with high hopes my expectations were shattered as it turned out to be a creative and fun take on the type of game I spent the last several decades somehow never getting bored of. From a return to unlockable characters without microtransactions to a really clever, almost rouge-like stage set up, Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragon is a must have for fans of beat ’em ups.