The story of Double Dragon Neon is simple.The Shadow Warriors led by the super-lich Skullmageddon have punched Marian in the stomach (again) and kidnapped her (again). As with previous installments of the series, the player takes control of martial artists Billy Lee (Player 1) and Jimmy Lee (Player 2) in their fight to rescue Maria.
However Double Dragon Neon is not a 100% reproduction of the original game and tries to deliver its own style while making fun of all these 80’s stereotypes. In the game’s two hours you’ll find yourself in surreal situations in taking place in locations ranging from city streets to an outer-space fighting dojo, an Oriental-themed countryside, a genetics lab, and a graveyard before concluding at Skullmageddon’s palace.
Staying true to the roots of the franchise, Double Dragon Neon is an exercise in walking from the left to the right, punching enemies to the left or right, and kicking the crap out of everything on the screen. Compared to the original game, besides the standard punch, kick, and jump moves you can now perform special moves, run and dodge, which if you perform correctly then you are rewarded with boost that doubles the power of your hits.
The most interesting entry in the gameplay however is the‘mix tape’ level up system, in simple words the ability to collect retro cassette tapes complete with a song for each tape that you can listen to when you are selecting the play style you prefer. You can choose a “tape” that boosts your weapon skills based on how you like to play. Are you amazing at dodging attacks? There’s a tape that rewards consecutive hits without being injured. There are also tapes for special moves like the fireball or the classic whirlwind kick and they work the same way.
You can collect every tape as many times as you like but what you should be aware of is that when you reach level 10, the maximum capacity. you have to pay a visit to the Tapesmith which can increase the capacity further if you pay him Mythril, which is obtained from defeated bosses.
In your course to save Maria you’ll also find shops where you can buy, lives, refreshments to fill up your energy, batteries to increase the magic meter, and tapes but you have to re[peat a level if you are to visit one.
The game is a bit on the short side. A dedicated player will beat the default difficulty in an afternoon. Re-playability comes in the style of higher difficulties and maxing out your mixtapes. In a two-player game, both Billy and Jimmy can utilize a special “high-five” technique to split and share their life meters to an equal amount, or to instantly trigger a Gleam effect. If one player is defeated in battle, the other player has a limited time to revive him before a life is deducted (unless both players are defeated together).
When one player is completely out of lives, he can steal one from the other player if he has at least two left. Neon currently lacks an online feature but WayForward has stated that this feature will definitely arrive.
We felt a lot of nostalgia while playing Double Dragon Neon, mostly because almost delivers have the same vibe from the good old days, without thankfully losing a small fortune in coins.
The whole mock-up 80’s thing is not something that will appeal to anyone but the solid production and mechanics is something that a gamer who respects himself cannot neglect. There have been many attempts at Double Dragon sequels and remakes over the years but this new effort, from WayForward Technologies, doesn’t try to change the winning formula, instead it tries to make it relevant for this gaming generation.
All in one Double Dragon: Neon is far from a standard retro remake. It’s WayForward’s love letter to the decade that spawned the franchise – the music, the style, and culture of the 80’s pulse.
Double Dragon Neon retails for $9.99 on the PlayStation Network and for 800 Microsoft Points on the Xbox LIVE Arcade. As an added bonus, Playstation Plus members can get Double Dragon Neon for FREE now through January.