Double Dragon Neon by Majesco is a digital remake/reinterpretation of the classic arcade style beat em up that was also released on the NES all those years ago. The original game is loved for it simple yet addictive gameplay and despised by probably just as many people for its difficulty at times, but hey back when it was first released it was the era of the hard to beat video games. Does Double Dragon Neon capture the spirit of its ancestors or does it fall flat on its face like a bad martial arts movie? Read on to find out.
Double Dragon doesn’t have a deep story but that’s because it comes from an era where a deep story isn’t a requirement. The story is your girlfriend Marian has been kidnapped by the bad guys and you playing as Billy Lee (and a friend who will assume the role of brother Jimmy Lee if you are playing multiplayer) are off to go kick butt and rescue her. The bad guys are a mix of ninjas, gangsters, dominatrix’s (yes you read that right) and of course gigantic monstrous bosses, basically you have a wide variety of butts to kick.
When you boot up the game you get a cool looking Double Dragon logo image followed by the Main Menu with various options: Play which lets you well play the game, Leaderboards where you can view high scores, Achievements, and Options where you can find goodies. The actual gameplay mode is simple you can play either single or multiplayer with a friend and its essentially an old school arcade beatem up with punches, kicks, and special attacks (a new addition) at your disposal to beat down the baddies.
The Gameplay as I mentioned above is fairly simple which is typical of side-scrolling beat em ups you can do punches, kicks, and when an opponent is groggy you can throw them. A key new addition to this game that was absent in the original Double Dragon games is the ability to learn new techniques (such as a fireball, knee drop, special uppercut, and even a really cool Dragon Ball Z esque attack where you summon a giant dragon) via collecting cassette tape icons or ‘songs’ or buying the skills from the in game shop where you can also upgrade previously found/purchased attacks. The only problem I had with the gameplay was at times it would seem like even if I was standing directly infront of an enemy and hitting them, the attacks wouldn’t register. The game isn’t overly difficult but you only get 2 lives to start each level with though sometimes you can find more throughout the levels. Initially the game is only playable on normal difficulty but you can unlock the others once you play through the game. Overall the gameplay isn’t bad but it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.
The multiplayer/co-op isn’t anything special but it didn’t give me any problems. Both characters are pretty much the same but a cool aspect is that you can ‘high five’ your opponent to power up your characters. Playing multiplayer definitely makes the game more fun and lowers the difficulty a bit because you have back up.
Graphically the game looks good for a downloadable game. The sprites are brightly colored and the backgrounds fit in good. One thing I noticed is that they added a map between levels where Billy (in an appearance very similar to an 8/16 bit version of himself) walks to the next level on the map. Another great thing about the graphics is that the bosses you fight for the most part look awesome and unique, i’d say overall the graphics are the strongpoint of the game.
Sound wise the game is solid its nothing revolutionary but it’s not bad either and actually helps achieve the ‘retro arcade’ beat em up style that the game seems to strive for. I really like the little song that plays at the title screen and the music in the levels is entertaining enough that it doesn’t get old when you are playing the levels over and over again because you keep dying.
Overall Double Dragon Neon isn’t a bad game but it isn’t great either. The Gameplay is good but its nothing that hasn’t been done before which is pretty much the deal with everything when it comes to this game. The graphics were my favorite aspect of the game as it reminded me a lot of the bye gone era of smelly arcades and quarter eating side scrolling arcade machines. I’d say if you are a fan of the Double Dragon games or other Side Scrolling beat em ups then check this game out and even if you aren’t for the price if you just want a short fun co-op game to play then it may be worth checking out.