You can’t judge a book by its cover because this game did not look great from the screenshots showcased months ago. WayForward though once again puts their all into bringing another classic franchise back to life. Double Dragon Neon is a high quality beat em up that gets everything right. The game is bright and vibrant with a fantastic high energy soundtrack and a complex battle system. It’s also pretty humorous which helps keeps gamers interested. Streets of Rage is a huge classic but tha game suffers from its repetition. To bring a successful 2D beat em up into play you need to keep the player involved and keep changing the game up. Double Dragon Neon like the classic NES trilogy is able to execute this easily.
Jake Kaufman returns for another WayForward title to bring an amazing soundtrack (We are unlikely to forget the song Training Wheels) that blends the old energetic Double Dragon music with a new feel. The voice work in the game shines too. The Lee brothers ARE ripped from the 1980s along with Skullmageddon the games very obvious, but good, tribute to Skellator from He-Man. The vibrant graphics featured in Neon are one thing but the complete 1980s vibe that’s injected by the soundtrack and voice over work is fantastic. It’s because of this that Double Dragon Neon elevates to a Saturday Morning Cartoon level of style.
WayForward goes out of its way to make an effective battle system that doesn’t rely on the crutch of mashing X and Y. The Lee brothers have punches, kicks, and throws at their disposal but to truly succeed at the game you’ll need to master dodging. Rolls will get you out of the way of an attack but ducking a strike will give you a temporary gleam. Gleam mode allows you a short time to strike back for double damage which makes quick work of the game’s later enemies. The same effect can be achieved with local co-op and the high five maneuver (right thumb stick up). This brings up the real issue with Double Dragon Neon, it lacks online co-op in an age that demands it. The game remains fun with friends but its a limitation that’s hard to swallow.
The game also comes with Sosetsitsu (martial arts techniques) in the form of mixtapes that you collect randomly. The techniques use up your energy bar under your life to perform knee drops, throw fireballs, or summon a dragon to name a few. The other kind of tapes you collect are training styles that after you’ve equipped will mold the Lee brothers growth of stats. Both kinds of tapes can be leveled by collecting the same tape again, buying upgrades from the store, and upgrading the level limit at the tapesmith (a play on blacksmiths). This EXP equivalent system helps balance the game and prevent it from falling into what most 2D beat em ups become, a careless death fest of mashing buttons. The problem with this system is it is designed for you to play on Double Dragon difficulty so expect to grind tapes out for long periods of time if you plan on taking that challenge.
There was no market for a return of Double Dragon. The series like many from the late 80s don’t translate well to today but Neon is an evolution. It brings Double Dragon to the modern times and provides a laugh fest the game never acquired. Don’t be put off by the 80s charm but embrace Jimmy yelling Hole in One or Touchdown as he kills a gang member with a baseball bat. Double Dragon Neon is now available for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
- Great energetic soundtrack
- Entertaining combat system
- Skullmageddon’s voice
- No online co-op
- Sosetsitsu take forever to grind