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Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls (Genesis) artwork

Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls (Genesis) review

"The 90s Cartoon Gets The Street Fighter Treatment"

Double Dragon 5 The Shadow Falls is a curious title to me, being that the number it bears would mean that up to that point, everything from the series at the beginning of the NES adaptations to that point would be canonical, including the 90s cartoon that was very loosely based on the games themselves tying them all together, yet Technos, the company behind the series isn't anywhere around this game at all, having it distributed instead by Tradewest, the same gaming company that adapted the first Double Dragon for NES years prior. Having fighting games based on cartoon franchises isn't anything new, and being that Double Dragon had an animated adaptation it was interesting to see it got its own game, and a fighting game at that instead of the familiar beat'em up platforms the series is notorious for.

I know there was another fighting game with the Double Dragon title on it, based on the 90s movie, which makes it more the curious on having two fighting games but only this one being considered a sequel of sorts. I am still confused as to how this is an official sequel altogether, but I cannot bust my head thinking much about it, opting to bust other heads fighting on street fights instead.\par
I chose to review the Sega Genesis version over the SNES being that it has the hardcore option of displaying blood whenever a character gets hit. Double Dragon V wants you to take it as serious as you could ever possibly take it, despite the design of some characters trying to convince you otherwise. As it is, DD5 is a pretty solid fighter, one that benefits from using basic combo input instead of using special moves, which are pretty hard to pull off during matches. More often than not, you will find yourself just blocking and hitting the opponent with normal attacks than shooting a projectile. Gameplay is a bit tight, but responsive enough to have a good match or two against the CPU or a Human opponent. There are various modes of play, Tournament Mode allows you to have an "Arcade" version where all you do is fight your way to the last guy in the game, The Shadow Master without any context other than gaining a high score whether you beat the game or not. Quest Mode adds a mediocre storyline depending on who you choose. Shadow Master will show up in intervals before the next match, either insulting you or praising you as you progress. Whichever of the two you choose to play, neither has a definite ending for any character used, only having the credits roll by leaving you with a bittersweet sense of achievement. The other modes are "Battle Demo," which allows you to select two characters controlled by CPU fighting each other and "Dossiers," which shows profiles for each character you can play as. Shadow Master doesn't appear on any profile and can only be played via cheat code to use on "VS" mode. What a letdown, but being that there really isn't an ending for any character here, I really didn't miss much about it.

After you choose your character the game lets you configure attributes such as Strength, Defense, or Special, in an attempt to balance out your character to better the odds against others. Said points are very limited and you do not gain any more than what you have at the very beginning. I found this option quite interesting but at the same time it didn't seem to help much affecting gameplay overall. There are a total of 10 characters to choose from, both from the cartoon and some created specifically for this game, which you may had never heard of besides Billy and Jimmy. At the end you will always fight Dominique, a whip wielding woman dressed like a dominatrix, which may or may not been inspired by the Linda character in the original games, and Shadow Master, the very last character you always fight at the end. Strangely enough, Marian, the often girl in distress turned police officer on the animated series isn't anywhere to be found.

The difficulty on this game is quite moderate, but the CPU will always try to counter your moves and most of the time throw you as you get closer, a behavior not unlike games like Mortal Kombat had used. I found out that it\rquote s VERY easy to dizzy opponents than most fighting games, and at the same time, you can get dizzy as easily the same. This actually gives you an edge on turning the tide if the opponent is winning. The winning quotes come as "meh" to hilarious, some of which even taunt others on crying like a baby. The backgrounds on stages are quite stylized, giving this air of a dystopian future on a crime-ridden town. You fight on places like nuclear reactors, the sewers, and even inside a dungeon where Shadow Master holds his hapless victims. Other stages include the Double Dragon and Shadow Master dojos just as well although Shadow Master's is more like a lair than anything else.

The sound is pretty average, having gurgled voices and grunts and basic slashing/hit sounds. The music is pretty basic as well but it does make justice on the mood the game gives fighting in such dark backgrounds.

So does Double Dragon V pass the test as a casual fighter where you come back to duke it out from time to time? Well yes, it does pass it even with its shortcomings. I found out that it is quite playable and not as frustrating as other fighting games that were released during that timeframe, either based on other cartoons or originally created. Some of my reasons on playing it are often nostalgic, bringing me back to when I watched the animated series on Saturday mornings and being the sole game based on that show, but even if I hadn't known about said show, I would still recognize Double Dragon anywhere, being that the series has left quite an impression on gaming history overall.

The Shadow Falls.

CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (May 27, 2018)

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