Should you buy it? Take a look at our Double Dragon Neon Review
In 1987 Double Dragon was released in arcades all around the world and it was praised as one of the best games of that time. I too played the original game back then, well not in 1987, but maybe ten years later and I enjoyed it very much. Now it’s 2012 and developer WayForward applied it’s retro gaming prowess to bring it back in the form of Double Dragon Neon. Now the important question: Does Neon stand up to the heights of its predecessor?
As the original one Neon it’s a side-scrolling beat ‘em up game. The game mixes 2D backgrounds with 3D character models, which lets say works fine. Billy and Jimmy are back in action to save their beloved Marian who is taken hostage by the villain Skullmageddon. They travel across 10 different levels set in different locations in order to reach and defeat the villain and at the same time save Marion.
If I remember correctly ( hey it’s been more than 10 years since I played the original) the first level of Neon is similar to the original, where Marion is taken hostage and then the garage door open and you begin to play. Also at the end of this level I remember that I had to beat a big guy, Abobo if I recall correctly. But I think that what comes after is totally new. You go to space where you fight space dudes, you go to a cemetery where you fight zombies and skeletons, then you go to a genetic lab where you fight doctors and big plants etc. Yeah I think that all of these are new! There are a total of 4 maybe 5 types of enemies and they are reused all over the game. At the end of some levels you encounter different bosses with different attack patterns. Some of them are fun, some not so much…
As in the old games you punch, kick and grab. Also there are weapons scattered all over the ground which you can pick up and use or throw against the enemies and also soda cans to regain health. But this time around there are also some new things. For example you pick up different mix-tapes ( for you who don’t know what those are, google is your friend) which grant you new stances and sosetsisus or perks and abilities. The perks can increase your attack power, your defense, you can regain health by beating enemies etc. The abilities grant you special powers that use magic/mana like summon lightning, throw fireballs, do special punch/kicks or summon a big fire dragon. These are nice additions but I felt like I could still do without them. Why you might ask? Well the special attacks are supposed to do amazing things but here they do as much ( sometimes even lower) damage as normal punches and kicks do, so where is the “special”? The perks in the other hand, are a cool new idea.
Also as in the old one, you can play with a friend or a bro as the game likes to call. The brothers or twins are just the same character with a different color which means that they are the same. The look the same, have the same attacks and special abilities etc. This was OK back in 87’ but today this doesn’t work. Also this is local only, no online co-op…
The original Double Dragon was very slow paced, maybe because of hardware capabilities of the time or maybe it was a design choice, but this worked back then. Neon retains that same slowness. I think that this was totally a choice of the devs to keep the same pace as the original and this for my opinion was a very bad choice. As I said above, the slow pacing worked in the past, but today it doesn’t and it completely ruins the entire experience. You can run here, but even that feels so slow. Everything feels so slow, the attacks, moving etc. These types of games needs to be fast paced and Shank is a perfect example. Also as in the old one, the stages or in the most of them you can move up and down to hit the enemies. But many times you miss punching or kicking them cause of the hitbox which becomes kind of a nuisance later in the game.
Visually the game looks good. The levels are detailed even though they are still backgrounds. Also the 3D character models looks very nice. The animations are good too but the slow pacing of the game somehow ruins them. It would have been really cool and something really special for the game to have and play a level from the original game as an unlockable. Or maybe if you could change the 3D model for the old one or some skins for your character. The game does ok when it comes to the sound design. Punches, kicks, special attacks sound like they should. Also in some “cut-scenes” there is some voice acting which lets say its OK. The music-tapes you pick up contain awesome music tracks that are a great throw back to the 90’ style. So is the background music in the levels.
Now to answer the question at the beginning: Does the game stand up to the heights of it’s predecessors? No, but also yes in a form which is bad for today standarts. Slow pacing ruins this game! Also it is very short, it can be beaten in under 3 hours. The replay value here is to low. The visuals and sounds are nice, also the concept art which is unlocked after beating the game is a nice addition.
So should you buy Double Dragon Neon? Well that depends. If you were and still are a fan of the original one, definitely buy this game. But if you are a casual gamer looking for a 7,99€ beat ‘em up game, buy something else as there are better games out there. 7.5/10