Double Dragon: Neon Review

Player(s): 1-2
Extra Features: Local Multiplayer (1-2 players), Leaderboards

If you were a fan of beat'em up games back in the 1980's then surely you know of the Lee brothers - Billy and Jimmy Lee - and their desperate struggles to win back their girl Marion. Double Dragon Neon is a recreation of everything that made the Double Dragon games so successful back in their time. The game is a side scrolling HD beat'em up developed by WayForward and published by Majesco. Neon successfully recreates the overall style and gameplay of the older Double Dragon games - it's heavy 80's-inspired. Double Dragon Neon is available on the Xbox Live Marketplace and PS Store for the price of 800 points or $9.99 respectively.

Double Dragon Neon starts out just like the first few Double Dragons with Marion getting kidnapped. This girl is such a sucker for those William punks punching her in the gut! Neon is much like a parody of the old-school Double Dragon games in its overall setup. Billy even says "Marion? Aw man, not this again" when he moves out of the garage after Marion is kidnapped in the intro scene to stage 1. The entire game has several references to classic Double Dragons. The shop owner even mentions how the Lee brothers no longer pull girls' hair and knee them since that is rude.

Neon is presented with 3D models for characters and enemies and has 2D backgrounds. The game is very colorful and runs smooth and clear much like WayForward's Bloodrayne Betrayal. Many of the early surroundings have several neon lights that illuminate the buildings. You'll still fight your share of Williams, Lindas and Abobos just like in the classic Double Dragons. There are several new enemies that have been added to the lineup as well, and each of them have their own unique way of attacking. Every other stage has a boss that must be defeated.

The game has the usual punch and kick attacks along with a few new moves. Players can now duck and roll to avoid enemy attacks. The new ducking and rolling gets rid of some of the unfairness found in boss priority attacks since you can just quickly duck or roll out of the way of their attacks. A successful dodge will activate what is known as a "gleam" where your character will glow red and be able to take off double damage with each attack for a few seconds. The gleam is extremely useful for extra priority on character attacks and it also yields a greater amount of damage per hit. Gleam is especially useful against enemies with weapons and bosses because of their super armor attacks.

While playing co-op (or "Bro-op", as the game puts it), both players can use a special high five move that will allow them to activate a gleam or split their health. You can also steal your partner's help with a Psych high five. The game actually encourages you to beat up on your partner at times. Co-op is definitely the easier route to go for progressing through the game's 10 stages easily. At the moment, co-op play is only available locally.

Neon starts out difficult since you have little advantage against enemies, but it gets easier as you become more familiar with dodging and if you backtrack through stages to power up your stance tracks and sosetsitsu magic tracks. These music tracks can be mixed in order to have stat boosts and use additional moves. You can build up your attacks for greater damage with a stance card and use a magic card to perform a jumping spin kick attack. Each music track will grow move powerful depending on how many tracks of that kind are picked up. At first, a player can only hold 10 of each track, but by using Mythril to level up each track at certain shops, more copies of that track can be held and the overall boost or attack damage of the move will be greater. Mythril is gained only from stages bosses and enemies will drop music tracks. Music tracks can also be bought at certain shops for cash.

The overall sound for Double Dragon Neon is fantastic. The soundtrack is easily one of the best parts of the game. The game has a multitude of new tracks and some remixes from the old-school Double Dragons. The stage 2 music is so addicting that I played through that stage multiple times when I needed to level up my moves mainly because of the song that plays on that stage. Each music track that is collected has its own song that will play in the inventory menu for selecting tracks. For instance, the healing touch magic has a healing touch song that will play when hovering over that option - it's moments like these that show how much enjoyment and creativity went into the making of this game. All music tracks have their own matching song as well. The voice acting is bad on purpose. It adds to the goofy 80's style that the game is going for. Even the main bad guy acts corny - Skullmageddon.

The controls are mainly solid for a beat'em up, but once again, the game still has clunky dashing and jumping controls that made me fall off cliffs or mistime a jump at times. The game has a bit more platforming than your standard Double Dragon but it still doesn't overuse it. Double Dragon Neon actually has a lot of variety for a beat'em up game. The stages have a lot of variety in their appearance as well. You'll travel to familiar locations such as the streets and forest and all new areas such as a space ship, haunted forest (with zombies) and a secret lab.

Double Dragon Neon offers two higher difficulties for replay value besides the normal difficulty. The game has a total of 10 stages and the full game can be completed in about 3 hours. It takes quite a while to level up all of your stances and magic. At only $10 I'd highly recommend Double Dragon Neon to any fan of beat'em up games. The game can be quite addicting and it's a joy to listen to. Fans of the old-school Double Dragon games will be in for a treat with this installment.

The Good:
+ Just as fun as the older Double Dragon games.
+ Great soundtrack full of remixes and new music.
+ A few new moves - stances, magic, dodging, etc.

The Bad:
- Controls for running and jumping feel clunky when platforming.
- Overall short with little replay value.
- No online co-op at the moment.

Final Rating: 83%. It's been several years since we last heard from the Lee brothers, but it's good to see that they haven't lost their touch for rescuing Marion!


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