When I was a kid I remember going to a local store and dropping quarters anytime I could, to play Double Dragon. It was pretty much the quintessential beat-em up genre game of the 80’s Like any great 80’s game, they made a horrible 90’s movie loosely based on it.
While at Pax East this year, I was getting ready to leave, and walked by Double Dragon Neon. I was shocked because I hadn’t heard any news about this game at all, but it was playable right in front of me, so I gave it a shot. I thought Majesco Entertainment might have nailed it. Unfortunately once I got to dive into the game fully I was horribly disappointed.
Double Dragon Neon has a nice art style. I love how the enemies sometimes flip in to the action. Another good thing about the game that they’ve added are abilities, that add a little to the gameplay. I was able to throw a fireball, which unfortunately didn’t do as much damage as I would have liked. You can choose different abilities that you can unlock by collecting cassette tapes. Different tapes have different abilities.
The game music feels very 80’s, but not in a good way. The soundtrack was released online for free. It’s personally not my style of music, but check it out for yourself. If nothing else It does seem like they put a lot of work into it.
The game starts out very similar to the original game. A group of thugs walk up to Maria, punch her in the gut and throw her over their shoulder and walk away. The garage doors open, and your character exclaims “Not again!” and goes after them. The first level of the game feels like a decent throw back, paying homage to the original. I wish it had stayed down that path. Once you get past the first few levels the game takes some major turns.
You walk into a trap that takes you into space on a ship. If you played the original Double Dragon that sentence just blew your mind. The original Double Dragon, while a bit out there, still seemed to be based in the real world. This game just goes over the top for no reason. Fans of the original game just aren’t looking for this.
While you’re in space you run into the main villain, Skullmageddon, who looks like Yoshimitsu (from Namco’s Tekken series) and sounds like Skeletor. As you play through the game you will hear him order his troops to stop you. Hearing an imitation Skeletor does add something to the game, but it doesn’t help the game anywhere near enough.
At about Mission 6 the game just stops being fun all together. It becomes way too hard for no reason. For perfectionist’s that don’t mind dying repeatedly due to poor game design this game might appeal to you. They eventually just throw too many difficult enemies at you to make it worth going through. When I finally do get through those parts I don’t feel happy about it. That’s the difference between a good difficult game and a bad one. Eventually I gave up at Mission 8’s boss that looked like Audrey II from Little shop of horrors. The game, I believe, has 10 missions, but I knew I didn’t have it in me to continue torturing myself.
Double Dragon Neon sells for $10 on XBLA and PSN, but if you are a Playstation Network Plus member you can download the game for free. Even at the price of free this game is not worth your time past the first mission. Try the demo, and enjoy it, but save your money for a proper Double Dragon game.