August 5, 2023

Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons (Steam) Review

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Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons (Steam) Review

By Joel | August 5, 2023
Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons (Steam) Review

As the familiar pixelated glow of my TV screen throws me back to the nostalgia-laden corridors of the 1980s, the memories flood in. The cacophonous symphony of arcade machines, the metallic scent of tokens clutched tightly in sweaty palms, and the viscerally tangible tension of waiting for a turn at the hallowed joystick.

The game of honor, you ask? Double Dragon. The brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee, represented everything we wanted to be: fearless, defiant, and empowered to take on the world in the face of insurmountable odds. It was an era when the bleeps and bloops of 8-bit soundtracks were the hymns of our youth.

Nostalgia Meets Innovation

Now, fast forward to today, the return of the dragon brothers in Secret Base Pte Ltd's release, Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons, echoes that same sentiment, invigorating the beat 'em up genre and reigniting the flame of our youth.

This is a game that reminds us why we fell in love with video games in the first place. In many ways, it's a love letter to the beat 'em up classics of yesteryear, but it’s also a creative leap forward that embraces the roguelite mechanisms of today.

Every playthrough of Rise of the Dragons is an endeavor in delightful discovery. The roguelite elements ensure that each journey is unique, forcing players to adapt on the fly to ever-changing obstacles and enemy formations. The world never quite feels the same, lending the game an exhilarating freshness with each coin spent.

Old Heroes, New Battles

Its character roster is expansive and filled with characterful variety. A delightful ensemble of 4 starter characters are at your disposal with the potential to unlock 9 more.

Each character's distinct style and abilities add depth and strategy to the beat 'em up mechanics, leaving room for player preference and tactics. Every punch, kick, and special move feels weighty, satisfying, and true to its arcade roots.

Although Rise of the Dragons has its charms, there are times when it falls short. Certain characters seem overpowered, which can make some playthroughs challenging. Additionally, while the game's rogue-lite elements offer replayability, the lack of a more meaningful storyline can leave players feeling unfulfilled after multiple runs. Furthermore, the pacing in this sequel is slower than the original, causing fight scenes to feel more like a tedious task than an exhilarating beat'em up.

Dragon Rising

But in the grand scheme of gaming, these are minor nitpicks in an otherwise stunningly executed homage to the beat 'em up genre. Rise of the Dragon does what few games of its kind do: it thrills with its action, tantalizes with its rogue-lite unpredictability, and, above all else, it reminds us of the pure, unadulterated joy of standing shoulder to shoulder with a friend, facing down an army of pixelated foes.

In the end however, veterans of the arcade era, and to the new generation ready to etch their own memories, let the call of the dragons beckon you once more. With a heart beating in 8-bit and a spirit forged in the fiery crucibles of arcades past, I give Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons a hearty recommendation.

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