Double Dragon IV, the next installment in the long-running, influential beat-’em-up franchise, is coming to PlayStation 4 and Steam next month.
The game is directed by series creator Yoshihisa Kishimoto, who first directed the original arcade Double Dragon back in 1987. Double Dragon and its subsequent sequels, are regularly listed among the top beat-’em-up games of all time, and the original title helped to popularize the genre. Several other members of the early games’ development teams are also returning to the project, including composer Kazunaka Yamane and character designer Koji Ogata.
Taking place after the events of Double Dragon II — which opened with the character Marian getting shot to death with an assault rifle — Double Dragon IV wears its retro influence on its sleeve, with 8-bit visuals that use the stiff, deliberate animations that made the original game so precise and hard to master. Billy (or “Bimmy“) and Jimmy are back and kicking more ass than ever before. We get a quick glimpse of one of their moves in the teaser trailer, as an enemy is elbowed in the head, thrown into the air, roundhouse kicked, and then kneed so hard that she flies off the screen.
Though this is the first time we’ve seen a truly “retro” game from the Double Dragon series in years, we have seen developers experiment with the formula recently. Double Dragon Neon, released in 2012 and developed by famed 2D studio WayForward Technologies, utilized a more modern visual style that was met with a mixed reception.
And if you’re asking yourself, “Wasn’t there already already a Double Dragon IV?” that’s understandable. Technically, the answer is “no,” as the series went from Double Dragon 3 to Super Double Dragon before releasing Double Dragon V. Yes, the “fourth” game is coming out 23 years after the fifth one.
Double Dragon IV hits PlayStation 4 and Steam (over and over again) on January 30, 2017.