Friday, November 17, 2023

Double Dragon Gaiden (Switch, 2023)


A new Double Drgn? I didn't even know about this. Double Dragon Neon was pretty good, so maybe this one will be decent too. Couple things concern me about it: The graphic style is iffy and it's touted as a "roguelike" which isn't really what I want from a DD. We'll see how it goes.

Most importantly, it has PLAYABLE MARIAN and she's looking gooooood.

Always the 1990's. Always. What other brawlers understood and DD didn't is that you don't need a nuclear apocalypse to have crime and mayhem, people do that on their own.

We've got four major crime lords: Willy, from the early games, and three weirdoes. There's Ponytail Muscle Guy, Anubis, and Whitewashed Yakuza Lady.

At the Bimmy and Jimmy dojo, some guy stumbles in carrying Marian. Dammit, I thought this would be a game where Marian doesn't start the game by getting knocked out. That trope needs to die.

That guy is the new mayor. So the new mayor just found Marian in the street? And she's a police officer now? WHAT DID WE MISS?

Yeah mayor, isn't this crime wave thing kinda your responsibility?

Mayor: "Sorry, we have a Soros DA and my hands are tied"

::lights a cigarette:: ...I don't believe you.

Bimmy and Jimmy decide that if the mayor isn't gonna do anything while the DA drops charges against everyone, then the responsibility falls on the Lee Brothers.

This game is weird. It seems like a prequel, and doesn't really look like the old ones. Like one of them "modern reimaginings".

Off the bat we have four characters. More can be unlocked by playing the game a lot. Basically all of the bosses are playable. Besides the Lee Boys, we have...

...this guy, their adoptive dad who has been running the dojo since the Lee Parents were killed by... gangs, or nukes, or mutant killer rodents. Maybe deadly cats of unusual size.

The main course is Marian, who is FINALLY playable in a DD beat em up. She basically just shoots her foes, which is hilarious and makes her the single smartest hero in this series. Everyone else is punching their way through, while 2A Marian is just like "lol" and shows up with an arsenal.

She can also fire a gorram bazooka while looking like she's ready to tear it up at The Club after this.

The last time we saw her she inexplicably looked like this. I don't know who this monstrosity is but I'm glad we got Marian back for this new one.

Another good form Marian has taken was in the Neo Geo fighting game, which I've never gotten to play. She's gorgeous here. Why didn't the Super NES get THIS game instead of the bizarre Double Dragon V with a bunch of animated series fighters nobody knows?

Marian Flash Kick! Eat it, Guile!

Spinning backfist! Showing Eddie Kingston how it's done.

She's also a hell of a trash talker!

Well I have a new favorite fighting game character ever. It's ironic that she says this because she's precisely the kind of girlfriend I would brag about.

Oh yeah, back to the actual game. Our heroes are off to stop the Gang Warz of WWF 1997 fame. Get to the Austin/McMahon Era before it's too late, guys!

They give you a mission select between the four gang leaders. Unlike most games with a stage select, the difficulty isn't uniform across the four stages. Instead, they get longer as you go. So if you do Willy's stage first, it'll be fairly short and with an easy boss. If you do this stage last, it'll have several parts (4-1, 4-2, 4-3) and have a tough final boss.

Marian's landing animation is SO CUTE.

A bunch of hooligans show up to beat her down and 2A Marian is like "lolol"


Marian getting beat up and kidnapped? Never Again.

Between levels you get to choose randomly-generated upgrades to buy, Hades-style. Or you can just take a wad of cash and no upgrades. Much like Hades, the best upgrades are things that heal you slightly with certain attacks.

Overall the main objective seems to be to buy tokens between levels, then use those in the token shop to unlock all the characters. Personally I'm not gonna play as anyone except Marian and the Lees, so I don't bother.

Aside from your main character, you can tag in an ally and fight as them while your main regenerates a bit.

Here's Linda, from the other games. She's been upgraded to boss status, like Abobo and Chintai.

Yakuza Lady probably has the toughest of the four stages so it's a good idea to do this one first. The junkyard is the other particularly tough stage. I'd leave Willy's stage for last even though the game defaults to showing it first.

Next I take on the subway, which is actually cleaner and less dangerous than the subway ride in Chicago.


Hilarious how NOT ONE of these guys ever fires back. The vicious gang trying to take over...didn't bring any guns?

Well, Marian went to Jr. High and they didn't, so there you go.

The only downside to Marian is that she has to reload after every few shots if you're spamming them, so you need to take that into account. Also you can waste hits on enemies that are already beaten (as they fly backward), and with Marian this is more of an issue due to her reloading.

Bimmy (or maybe it's Jimmy) has a pretty cool flying kick. The animations in this game are good. However, it doesn't really LOOK like Double Dragon. And it doesn't really need the roguelike components. They tried to reinvent the wheel and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

First attempt at the game, I left Pharaoh Man here for last, and that was a mistake. Along with the Yakuza Lady, his stage is the toughest. It actually did me in, so I started over with a new strategy and actually knowing what I was doing.

Marian destroys priceless ancient vases! BLAM!

Pharoah Man stands atop a pyramid built out of debris in the junkyard.

I also took out Ponytail Muscle Guy somewhere on there, so now some Higher Power is watching and scheming. It sounds like the government isn't actually thrilled with the gangs being defeated. Maybe all of the crime was by design, Clockwork Orange style!

Also, the mild-mannered mayor is behind all of this and letting the gangs run rampant. I knew he'd be the villain, he's too well-built to not be a fearsome enemy. Was pretty convenient that he just happened to find a beat-up Marian at the beginning.

If you play Willy's stage last and get the full version of it, Abobo shows up.

Willy himself shows up with a massive machine gun. Too bad Marian can't get one of those.

Took me a bit to figure this fight out. He flies by and snipes you, and I figured he'd land at some point. Nope, the way to knock him down is to move high up and do a well-timed jump kick.

My strategy with Marian is usually to just get back and fire away once everyone is clumped up. However another thing I learned to lean on is the bazooka. It's her special attack, and when the special meter is full, don't hesitate to fire it. It's very much a "use it or lose it" situation. Also, hitting a bunch of enemies at once with a special attack will cause them to drop healing items. So this is really the key to doing well with this game.

With Willy defeated, peace has been restored! Or has it?

Yeah, look at how buff this guy is. He's like Vince McMahon 1998. No way a guy this buff isn't a secret evil mastermind.

He let crime get out of hand so that he'd be able to form a private army of government-controlled Peace Enforcers to fight the problem (and by extension give him total control over the streets).

You can fall in line and join him for a sweet cash prize (which can be exchanged for a bunch of shop tokens), though you miss out on the last level.

Go against him, and he turns into a supervillain. His legitimacy as mayor-dictator will not be questioned, and if you do question it you get thrown in the gulag by the Peace Enforcers.

The city hall is crawling with Peace Enforcers. They're here to beat the peace and love right into our heroes! What are you, against peace??

The Mayor's office helpfully has a bunch of whole chickens sitting around for heals. Weird. Maybe this meat is all that's left of the Press Corps.

And you need heals, because next up is a fight with ALL FOUR BOSSES AT ONCE.

Willy, Yakuza Lady, Bishounen Man, and Pharoah Man are actually much easier here. No goon squads to help them, and it isn't that hard to clump them up on one side (except Willy who fights at a distance) and whack most of them at once with bazooka shots.

After all of that, the Mayor himself springs into action with his giant life meter. Not much to say about this guy except that he has a huge life meter. Key to victory here is just to make strategic use of the healing chickens and make sure you bazooka the other bosses a lot to spawn more heals on the ground.

With the Mayor defeated and all of the gangs on the ropes, life goes back to normal. Marian is back to her normal job as the world's cutest cop, dodging bricks thrown by college students while she protects them from being murdered on the way to school.

Unf, Marian. Her being a playable badass better be the standard from now on.

Bimmy and Jimmy go back to their normal job of being two of the few non-creepy martial arts instructors in NYC. They don't even have those weird ponytails those guys all seem to have. Their classes consist of them fighting each other while everyone else watches and politely applauds. At least have the professionalism to wear a gi or something!

That's it for this game. Not actually a great game by any means, and didn't feel like Double Dragon, but it having playable Marian sets it apart and makes it worthwhile. I hope the next one has a more normalized art style (less Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and more realistic) though.

All in all I'd say this is a good sign of things to come for the series.

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