Release Date: September 12th, 2012
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360] XBLA, PSN
Genre: Action and Adventure
Rated: T for Teen
Anyone still remember the times gamers used to spend time feeding quarter into that old game machine? You never wanted to give up because the experience was so high octane and memorizing? Not many people among the generation growing up now have any idea of what a video arcade experience is with the games that rest among it. Beat-em-ups were always popular among the arcade chain of games. When we think back a few big titles come to mind such as Contra, Castlevania, and of course lets not forget Double Dragon. I was pretty young when I first played Dueling Dragons but I’ve hardly forgotten that game of the experience received from it. In today’s changing video game scene, will WayForward’s new take on Double Dragon be a smash hit, or an average arcade experience to today’s standards?
Double Dragon Neon is a nice little attempt at rebooting a classic for today’s gamers. The visuals are pleasing and the art-style backgrounds on the 2.5D plane is spectacular. Colors and crisp and the mood is certainly set from Mission 1. The 80’s styled soundtrack is surprisingly good and addictive. Voice overs are pretty good in a parody of sorts and are quite humorous at times. You have all the cheesy one-liners and occasional enemy dialogue that will put you in stitches. There was one part where a big enemy burst through the wall and yelled “Oh yeah!”. I’m hoping you guys get the reference but that was probably in the top 3 funniest moments while playing Double Dragon Neon.
The main villain, Skullmageddon, is the perfect parody of the evil genius persona. He appears to be based heavily off Skeletor from Heman and the dialogue given from the writers will really put a smirk on your face in the perfect way. The enemies you face in the game are really gooney looking and caricatured a good extent. Everything about Double Dragon Neon‘s style and approach really brings a satirical look toward the 80’s era. Double Dragon Neon gets massive brownie parts in presentation and style for these aspects.
Gameplay in Double Dragon Neon is relatively simple when you sit and examine it. The game can either be played solo or with a local friend in co-op (online co-op will patched in at a later date). You are locked in to a few buttons doing a short list of moves and there aren’t many combos to be executed in this regard. To make up for this, you have a system on fighting stance and fighter abilities. When you kill enemies within the game you will pick up dropped tapes from them. These tapes contains tracks that will adjust your fighter’s abilities based on the kind of combat you want to envelope in. Different stances may give you the ability to balance out all your stats, up your magic at a cost of other stats, get life from each hit you land on an enemy, etc, etc. The variability of stances and the ability to change them on the fly makes for some good small time strategy planning. If haven’t found a certain tape yet and would like to get it quick, you can find the Shop Merchant above and he will sell you tapes, lives, and even health refills.
Double Dragon Neon allows the player to use special moves at the cost of his magic or mana bar. As I touched on earlier, you can find tapes to change magic abilities along with your stances. Some abilities include shooting ranged fireballs at enemies, unleashing a devastating whirlwind kick, or delivering a heavy death punch, etc. When you defeat a boss enemy, they will drop special tokens that can be used towards upgrading your special moves in a Tape-smith shop. This feature can come in real handy when facing the harder levels and boss battles in the game; use the Tape-smith if you find him! You will not regret this decision!
Every game does not come without flaws however and Double Dragon Neon seems to carry a bag of them. I found it pretty clunky when trying to line up with enemies sometimes. It’s cool that they made the playing field have a little depth but it gets really annoying when you don’t line up the punch just right just to get it handed to you multiple times in return. Some enemies are even made to where you cannot land a hit on them if you are dead on them. The geisha enemies in the game are the world’s worst when it comes to this and it gets incredibly annoying really fast.
You can purchase extra lives in a level with the cash you pick-up for killing enemies but if you hope to carry your lives over to the next level, you are mistaken. Each time you start up a new mission, each player is reset to two lives. This is counter-productive in a lot of ways especially if you need them in an upcoming boss battle. Eventually you will learn how many lives you should anticipate on losing in a boss battle, but as for a first time play through, it is a total peeve. If you play this game, you best have a friend tag along. In the later parts of the game you are going to need some help big time.
Double Dragon Neon is a nice looking game and it wins our hearts in regards to the epic soundtrack, characters, one-liners, and artistic style. These very aspects help save this game from what otherwise would probably be an under-average game. Controls are clunky and combat may be a little slower then one would desire. You have a nice mix of weapons and abilities to use within the game but its been seen before in other beat-em-ups and done a little better as well. If you want a great 80’s parody experience, then this game is one to check out. It may not be the best of all time or match up the original in full strength but it is an okay title. You should have fun for a little while, but the longevity of that fun may not be the most you’d get out of a comparative game in this same genre.
Overall Rating: 3/5