Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls is a 1994 American-produced sequel to Technōs Japan's Double Dragon series. Unlike the previously produced Double Dragon games, Technōs had little or no credited involvement in the development of the game outside of licensing the series' name to publisher Tradewest (the publisher of the first NES version of Double Dragon and the Super NES title Super Double Dragon). Instead, the game was developed by Leland Interactive Media, a subsidiary of Tradewest. Unlike the previous games, which were side-scrolling fighting action games or beat-em-ups, The Shadow Falls is a head-to-head fighting game based on the animated Double Dragon TV series in the style of Capcom's 1991 arcade-hit Street Fighter II. Technōs would later produce its own fighting game based on the Double Dragon movie the following year simply titled Double Dragon for the Neo Geo. The Shadow Falls was originally released for the Super NES and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, and later released for the Atari Jaguar by Telegames (publisher of the Atari Lynx version of the first Double Dragon) in 1995.
The game follows the 8-way directional pad/stick with 6-button layout common to most fighting games (including Street Fighter II) at the time consisting of weak, medium and strong punches and kicks. The Genesis version supports the standard 3-button controller (making use of the start button to toggle between punches and kicks), as well as the 6-button controller released during the previous year. The characters have several special moves, as well as finishing moves called "Overkills" where the losing character has their own unique death animation when they are defeated by a certain type of basic attack.
- Billy and Jimmy Lee - With a flash of light they turn into skeletons, their sword still intact.
- Jawbreaker - Bends down on his knees shouting in pain as his teeth shatter (covering his mouth in embarrassment).
- Icepick - Upper torso gets chopped in half, falling to the ground and shattering.
- Bones - Collapses, leaving him into a pile of bones.
- Sickle - Starts spinning so fast that he spins through the floor, leaving his upper torso exposed (crosses arms in frustration after). In the Genesis Version, he gets impaled by one of his sickles.
- Blade - Stunned, he melts into a puddle of goo.
- Trigger Happy - His hand cannon overheats as he explodes, leaving a pile of ashes.
- Countdown - Overcharges, his robotic skeleton becomes exposed and his arms fall off.
- Sekka - Her body starts glowing, and she disappears into thin air, leaving only her outfit on the ground.
- Dominique - Feels ill, mutates and falls into a pile of maggots.
- Shadow Master - He crouches down to his knees letting out a scream and suddenly vanishes, leaving a pile of ashes.
The game features four game modes: Tournament Mode, Vs. Battle, Quest Mode and Watch Mode. Tournament Mode is an arcade-style single player mode, where the player competes against a series of computer-controlled opponents, with each character having their own ending, while Vs. Battle is a typical two player mode where one player competes against another. Quest Mode is an alternate single player mode where one competes in a series of plot-based battles. In Quest Mode, the player can choose to play as one of the Lee brothers, who are on a mission to stop the Shadow Master from releasing a plague, or play as one of the Shadow Warriors, who must compete to replace the Shadow Master. The player can also alter the storyline by having Billy be the Shadow Boss while Jimmy is good. In Quest Mode, the player can adjust the attributes of their own character. Watch Mode allows the player to pit two computer controlled characters against each other. There is also a Dossiers mode, where the player gets to view the game's character profiles, as well as an Options mode to adjust the difficulty setting, control configuration and other features.
The Shadow Falls has a character roster of twelve fighters, ten immediately playable characters (the two "Double Dragons" and eight Shadow Warriors) and two end bosses. Many of the characters are taken from the Double Dragon animated series that aired during the game's release. Only Bones, Sekka, Blade, and Dominique are original characters, with Blade's design being based on the generic Shadow Warrior soldiers who were on the show. Dominique and the Shadow Master are playable in the Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis versions via a code. In the Jaguar version, Blade, Trigger Happy and Icepick were removed, and Dominique was added to the immediate roster.
- Billy Lee
- Raised by the Oldest Dragon after being left at the Dragon Dojo by his father John Lee to find his twin brother, he was raised as a Dragon Master to obey the code to the detail. After meeting his brother Jimmy he decides to fight and becomes a "Double Dragon". He is noble and only fights when he must.
- Jimmy Lee
- Raised by the Shadow Master and fooled into believing the Shadow Master was his father, he was raised to be the Shadow Boss and be evil. After being betrayed by the Shadow Warrior he joins with Billy as a "Double Dragon". He is reckless and always gets in trouble.
- Shadow Master
- The master of all Shadow Warriors, he is evil and deceptive. His ultimate goal is to cover the world in darkness and shadow. He has many powers which include shapeshifting and teleporting, and he is able to trap warriors who fail him in the Shadow Mural. He has a scythe, the lower half of which can detach and be used as the sword. He is a secret character and the final boss of the game.
- A dangerous dominatrix with a whip and knives at the tips of her high heels, Dominic is the personal bodyguard of the Shadow Master and is his most loyal and devoted minion. She is the sub-boss that precedes the Shadow Master and is also a secret character.
- A monstrous pink-skinned mutant, he will eat anything and anyone. He has a large jaw with sharp teeth and can bite a chunk out of anything.
- A cyborg and computer expert, Icepick's body is entirely made of solid crystal which gives him an iceman-like appearance. He fights using a sword and dagger with ice powers.
- A undead skeleton resurrected by the Shadow Master who is influenced by rock n' roll and has a tattoo of a cobra on his forehead. He wields a laser rifle.
- A rude and cruel street fighter and criminal. He fights with two rather large red sickles.
- A French cuisine expert and hired mercenary of the Shadow Warriors. His weapons are crimson blades on his gauntlets.
- Trigger Happy
- A large brute ex-military who loves to destroy and shoot at things. He loves chaos. He uses a hand mounted blaster to fire at unsuspecting people.
- A robotically enhanced cyborg. He attacks with shoulder mounted rocket blasters and laser vision, he was manipulated into betraying the Shadow Master and was punished for his treason. Countdown fights for his survival now.
- A television personality and mercenary who was hired by the Shadow Master. She is more interested in her payment than the Shadow Warriors cause and follows her own agenda, making her more neutral. Sekka wears a combat armor and claws at the end of her gauntlets, similar to Blade's.
All versions of this game generally received negative reviews from both readers and critics:
- The Super NES version received a low review score of 5.25 out of 10 from EGM and 5.75 out of 10 from Game Informer while Nintendo Power gave the game a 3.1/5. It got an average 3.3 scores on GameFAQs from 6 reviews with only one reviewer giving it a 7/10.
- The Sega Genesis version received a low review rating of 2/10 from Sega-16. It got an average 2.5 scores on GameFAQs from 6 reviews with only one reviewer giving it an honest 5/10.
- The Atari Jaguar version received a low review rating of 5.87 out of 10 from EGM. It got an average 3.0 score on GameFAQs from only 1 review.
- The game takes its subtitle, "The Shadow Falls", from the first episode of the first season of the Double Dragon animated series.
- Despite the title of "V", this game came out 23 years before Double Dragon IV was released and it isn't related to the original Double Dragon canon, it is based on the TV series instead. It is likely that the numbering was due to Super Double Dragon being considered the fourth game of the series at the time (with Battletoads/Double Dragon being a non-canon crossover).