GAME NAME: Double Dragon Neon
DEVELOPER(S): Wayforward Technologies
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, Playstation 3
RELEASE DATE(S): September 12, 2012
This review is based on the PSN version of the game.
Not everyone was fortunate enough to remember the Double Dragon cartoon which aired in the early ’90s, and not everyone loves mocking the ’80s, bro-mances, and the “beat em up” genre’s tropes. However, those who do will absolutely love Double Dragon Neon, which is a reboot of the original arcade classic Double Dragon.
Beat-em-up games are very enjoyable and easily approachable, because they are so simply laid out that anyone can pick up a controller and join in, yet the games are designed to be challenging and offer a challenge to experienced players as you scale up the difficulty. In this sense, Neon is fantastic. While a reboot, the game stays fairly faithful to what made the original so successful (including some ridiculously difficult rocket-dodging sections). The controls are solid and intuitive, the game is bright and colorful (hence the name, Neon, because never before have you seen so many neon lights), and the writing is hilarious. The whole game is a loving, self-aware parody of bro-mances and the genre’s many tropes (including glowing red weak spots in boss fights) and of the ’80s in general. Remember when radical was a good term and as spouted by guys in ripped leather jackets with bleach blonde hair spiked up? Well, Neon does and it is eager to remind everyone what we loved and hated about the ’80s.
The story line is nothing new. You have to rescue Billy’s girlfriend, Marian. Our villain is Skullmageddon, and is the archetypical villain who is keenly aware of his role. His narration is a great backdrop while fighting the bosses, almost as great as the ’80s inspired soundtrack, which is simply radical. The brothers’ constant chatter is great, as well as how they are portrayed. One really great element introduced is the ability to split your life with your co-op player and to “gleam up” (your mana), which is executed in-game via a high-five. You can also “psych out” your co-op partner, which costs them health. The high fives are radical as they could be, and the brothers accompany them with fantastic little callouts, the best of which is “Let’s hold hands for 20 milliseconds!” or “Touch your hand to my hand, bro!” The brothers are presented as a bit dense, the best example of which is the way they use handguns, as they hit their enemies with them, beings as the complexities of how to shoot them escapes them.
The tone of the game is what really stuck with me, but the gameplay is quite solid and challenging, with various specials available, and many types of enemies to vanquish. There are some odd bits which threw me off, including the portrayal of some of the female enemies in the first level. Tight leather suits with little to cover their rears, who seem to moan with pleasure when you hit them, and say “Punish me!” when you knock them out. It was a bit unsettling, and I’m not sure whether the game was taking a stab at the way women are portrayed in games or if it was simply bad taste.
Despite this, the game is very enjoyable, has good replay value, especially if you have a friend around that likes this style of game as much as you do. At one point, I spent maybe 5 minutes with my roommate just high-fiving each other and laughing, because we are easily amused. If you aren’t a fan of beat-em-ups, it’s probably not going to make you love them, but if you enjoy a good beat em’ up and have fond memories of Double Dragon, then Neon is definitely worth a look.
A copy of the game was purchased by PixelJumpers’ staff for reviewing purposes.
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