REVIEW: Double Dragon Neon
I have fond memories of playing Double Dragon as a kid, very fond ones! My friends and I would spend hours on the weekends playing that game over a fine course of pizza and soda, enjoying every minute of it. I started up Majesco’s Double Dragon Neon with some trepidation as you would expect. It only took a few minutes for all of my worries to disappear as I instantly became consumed by the game and couldn’t put it down.
Double Dragon Neon isn’t a reboot of the original; it’s more of a modern day tribute to the original. Its actually a tribute to all things 80s really with its solid old school side scrolling gameplay and over the top cheesy music. Oh the sweet sweet music! The opening theme song in Double Dragon Neon flipped my nostalgia switch on and the game just never stopped from there. The amazing music can be found everywhere in the game, from awesome scene setting tunes for each level to unique tracks found in the menu and its sub systems you simply can’t escape it.
We will talk more about the music later but for now lets talk about the game itself. Double Dragon Neon starts off as you would expect it to by paying proper homage to the original. You play as brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee who must once again rescue Marian after being punched in the stomach by thugs and carried off. Someone should really keep an eye on that girl! The first two levels are a trip down memory lane but after that things change quite a bit but the game never loses its classic feel. From neon lit buildings and dirty grimy back alleys to even space the game will take you on a crazy trip around the world as only a game from the 80s could.
The combat in Double Dragon Neon takes a lot from the original and offers up all of your favorite moves including the infamous whirlwind kick. The game adds some new twists with the ability to run, roll, and even duck which might sound trivial but actually make the gameplay very updated from the original, in a good way of course. The game plays like a more modern day beat em up but still has the flavor of its original 80s counterpart. You can counter attacks now and deliver extra damage for pulling off perfect counters. Running and blocking while attacking at the same time allow you to pull off different moves and even build combos. Even weapons are plentiful in Double Dragon Neon from fan favorites like the whip to new ones like the hair pic the game has it all!
The good news all of this awesome 80s inspired punching and kicking can be shared with a friend! As of the game’s release couch co op is available for you and a “bro” to play through. Majesco has informed us that they are working on a patch to allow online co op and should hopefully have it out soon. That’s great news as this game was made to be played with a friend. Not that you can’t do it by yourself but to really truly get that sense of what it is to play Double Dragon you need to do it with a friend.
Outside of the normal punching and kicking the game also offers up an RPG like ability tree for you to use. You can pick your abilities by picking up mix tapes that get dropped on the ground, then using your money you can add tracks (level up) to those mix tapes in hidden stores on different levels. In addition to leveling up your abilities at the “tapesmith” you can also purchase other things like extra lives and health. Being able to do this really helps to make the game a bit easier to get through as the endless waves of bad guys can sometimes take a life or two away from you before making it to the boss battle at the end of the each level! If you happen to find the game too easy fear not as you can increase the difficulty of the game to suit your needs.
When it comes to the bad guys in the game Double Dragon Neon offers up a nice mix of updated versions of some of your favorite bad guys from the original game as well as new foes. The boss battles at the end of each level are unique from one another and so are the levels themselves. Everything about Double Dragon Neon works really well and to be honest I found no real flaws, the classic game play is still here with just enough modern day additions to keep it feeling familiar but fresh at the same time.
The soundtrack to the game won me over hands down. As I mentioned earlier its simply amazing. Even the little songs that go along with each skill and stance in the menu system is great. For example when hovering over the healing touch ability a great little 80s inspired tune plays just as it does for each one. Check out the mix tape video below. You can even download the entire soundtrack from bandcamp here by simply making a donation of your choice. It’s well worth checking out!
Summary: At its current price point of only 800MS points there is absolutely no reason that any fan of Double Dragon shouldn’t pick this game up. Even if you weren’t a fan and simply want a fun side scrolling beat em up game to play this is for sure the game for you. Its solid gameplay, sharp graphics, tight controls, and amazing soundtrack make this one of the best XBLA offerings out there!
DOUBLE DRAGON NEON GAMEPLAY