Double Dragon, and in particular, Super Double Dragon, is a series that was always played during hangouts and sleepovers when I was younger. To be able to play with your buddy and take out hordes of thugs was satisfying, not to mention enjoying the great soundtrack(s) and the crazy stories. It was a time when games didn’t need to be complicated and moving to the right was the only goal. Double Dragon Neon brings back the old school feel while still remaining to be engaging even after the nostalgia and novelty has worn off. Now, I’m not saying that every game needs to go back to the roots of gaming, but it is nice to play a title that throws you in a time machine for just a little bit. Sometimes, we just need to go somewhere else for awhile.
Double Dragon Neon is not a sequel, directly; it is more of a reboot of the series to provide a fresh take on the franchise while remaining old school. It is developed by Million Co. and WayForward Technologies and they worked with Majesco to get it published. It seems as if the developers wanted to have fun with making this and not cash-in on an existing name. Many of these downloadable titles refuse to be anything but generic, but DDN is goofy, bold, and entertaining.
One of the things you will notice when you start the game is the art style. It has a pastel, 80s-ish tone that reminds me of Vice City more than anything but it certainly helps set the tone for jean jackets and high fives (bro). The pastel art is also cel-chaded once you start playing the game, which makes for a fluid gaming experience and adds a goofy quality. The game is pretty and if the animations from Vice City and Borderlands is your thing, you’ll like it here too.
The story is non-existent (as always); it involves Billy Lee, along with his brother, Jimmy, off to save Billy’s girlfriend, Marian from Skullmageddon. You move from level to level chasing after the bone master while taking on all his henchmen; the levels are indicated on a map as points that you can move from between missions. You can go back and play levels you beat already so you can pick up more money and buy upgrades. What? Upgrades, you say? Yep! During the missions, enemies will drop cassettes that have special abilities. There are two types of cassette classification, one is stats and the other is special moves. At any time you can have one selected in each respected class. So, I chose to have balanced stats while having the Flying Dragon special move. In certain levels there are tape-smiths who will upgrade you tapes with mythril that you find from beating bosses. This added feature makes playing through older levels less of a chore because you are working towards making your character better. There are regular and frequent shops too where you can buy extra lives and cassettes.
So, you want to know my favorite part of the game? It’s the soundtrack by Jake Kaufman. Every track is thick with synth and fake, metal-guitar arpeggios. It is probably my favorite game soundtrack since Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Here is a sample of some of songs in the game:
Kaufman is actually selling his album for whatever you want to pay over on his Bandcamp page. You can pay nothing for it, but support the man, he made something pretty great. You can stream the entire album and purchase it over on his official page.
I didn’t feel the need to write an exhaustive review of this game because at the end of the day, it’s still Double Dragon and you still move to the right of the screen. You still use weapons and you still fight like, light, light, heavy. I don’t mean for it to sound boring, because it is a blast to play, it’s just meant to appeal to those who spent their youth playing brawlers like this. There is co-op but it is only local, so you need to have someone in the room with you to play, which sucks. I wish there was an online feature because I’m a bit of a shut-in and I don’t really bring too many people over. It would be great for parties or for just hangin’ with the family.
I guess if I had any complaints it is that the game feels a little slow, or your character feels slow when trying to outmaneuver the enemy. A few times I was super-frustrated because movement feels so limited when trying to dodge boss attacks. Other than the clunky controls, and maybe the difficulty, I don’t have much more to complain about.
As of right now, PS Plus members can download Double Dragon Neon for free as part of their subscription, so you guys have nothing to lose. As for everyone else, if you like these kinds of simplistic games, just buy it. DDN is going to make you smile with its weird one liners and winks to other games in the series.