Successfully bringing classic series’ to a new generation of gamers, WayForward has brought another classic back from the dead. Double Dragon: Neon should not be looked at as a remake, but rather a retelling of the classic story, while keeping the feel of the old-school arcade brawler – but with a fresh coat of paint.
Starting up like the original Double Dragon your girlfriend Marian is hanging outside a shady place and takes a punch to the gut without flinching and is taken away to our new villain; Skullmageddon who resembles a cross between Shredder and Skeletor. For the fans of the series, there are plenty of throwbacks to the previous titles in the series, but there are also plenty of new surprises along the way in regards to how the story unfolds.
Combat has always been a strong suit for the Double Dragon series, and with Neon you will either love or hate the changes that have been made. I’m saddened by the removal of the different grapple attacks – as you will now only throw the baddies if they are in the hunched over state. And say good bye to the over powered backwards elbow. There are however new additions to the combat in the way of mixtapes – remember those kiddies? – that make the combat more dynamic than it was in the past.
There are two different versions: one that offers boosts to your stats as well some that will allow you to gain health upon landing blows and making weapons stronger and the other set are known as “sosetsitsu.” These allow you to throw fireballs, perform knee drops as well as summon a dragon that attacks everyone one screen – and no you can’t form a double dragon; I tried. The more tapes you collect the stronger that ability will become. The shops scattered across some of the stages allow you to purchase extra lives as well as a Tapesmith that can add additional tapes to your inventory. Don’t waste your cash purchasing extra lives as they do not carry over to the next stage.
While Neon looks like a new game, it is a retro game by heart. The difficulty is one that hasn’t been seen in a long while – besides the retail release of Demons’ Souls. To put it bluntly, playing co-op is a much more enjoyable experience than playing by yourself – the difficulty makes sure of that. While playing with a partner you are able to revive each other, perform special high-fives to share health and even steal lives from each other. Obviously if you are playing alone, you won’t be able to high-five anyone – except yourself – and with no checkpoints, you will be starting back from the beginning of the stage once all of your lives are used up. Yup, getting beat by the boss at the end of a stage will send you back to square one. I should also mention currently there is only local co-op, but WayForward has promised that online co-op will be coming real soon through a patch.
Playing co-op both characters, Billy & Jimmy, get their own save files. If you have played the majority of the game solo and a buddy wants to join you for only a couple mission there is the shadow bro option that will duplicate your already developed character. All of the loot that either of you collect will go to the one save file.
Double Dragon Neon is a fun experience if you are looking for the retro feel and don’t mind the frustrations that come with it. There are only 10 different missions, and if you have the patience it can be beaten between two-four hours. Grinding for mixtapes does gets dull after a few stages and there isn���t not much to do besides a harder difficulty after beating the game. Make sure to collect as many lives as possible during the final stage as the one-hit kills from Skullmageddon will wipe out Billy & Jimmy instantly.
Note: The Double Dragon Neon review was written based on the PS3 version of the game provided by the publisher.