The Double Dragon series has always been defined by its simple controls, little to no plot and a fun tried and true beat-‘em-up scheme. Like many old videogames most of the challenge came from learning the enemies attack patterns, and making restricting control mechanics look like they have the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat just so you wouldn’t get annihilated by the onslaught of enemy horde after enemy horde. Some games that possessed these types of challenges got popular while sticking to their formula (where sadomasochism inflicted by the game’s refusal to give you a break only infused your desire for more).
Due to the shrinking popularity of Arcades and gaming together in the same room from the general population games like Double Dragon lost great part of their charm and where mostly left behind. That was, until the more recent retro-gaming trend appeared which gave birth to a variety of retro-inspired games, chiptune music genre and HD Remakes from older games.
Enter Double Dragon Neon, a game developed by WayFoward studios is a love letter to both; the Double Dragon Series and the era the series was conceived. The game retains almost all of the aspects from older iterations of the series with little tweaks here and there like the MixTape system (which works as a character status altering system). Unfortunately, the fidelity that this game has towards previous control schemes seems to be the reason that is detouring people away from this game.
It is true that out of all the old school inspired games the HD Remakes suffer harshest criticism due to their reliance on the nostalgia factor. Relying on nostalgia is a double-edged sword because you are playing with player’s memories and if your product does not recreate that nostalgia feeling it is just another quick cash-in on people who just want more of the same (New Super Mario Bros Wii, Sonic 4, etc).One of the most effective ways to use this nostalgia factor is go all out (Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy, Bionic Commando Rearmed, ect) and in this front Double Dragon Neon does it right combining faithful gameplay and a presentation that towers most HD Remakes up to date.
Double Dragon Neon clearly presents the players with an almost exact type of gameplay from its previous iterations, but the area that makes this game feel a genuine, kind-hearted experience is their attention to the 80’s flavored presentation. From awkward-hilarious puns, to stellar music by Jake Kaufman this game is a trip down memory lane through and through. The problem with this nostalgia technique is that it will only appeal towards people born in that age (and more precisely, people who remember it fondly), younger generations will mostly walk away thinking “this is the exact type of shit my older cousin keeps trying to shove down my throat, but it’s not all that great”.
But for anyone who just wants a challenging experience and have that 80’s Saturday morning cartoons feeling this game should be right up your alley.