As you may have heard, Double Dragon: Neon by WayForward is being showcased on the PAX show floor. Now, Double Dragon II on the NES may just be my favorite co-op brawler of all time. I have a lot of good memories of my dad and I whippin' the Shadow Master in that epic final battle. Of course, checking out Neon was in my PAX plans.
I can honestly say that it plays like a Double Dragon, and that can be a good or bad thing depending on how hard you get playing a really, really, really bare-bones brawler pulled straight from the 80s.
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Once again, you and a buddy hop into the shoes of Billy and Jimmy Lee, out to rescue Marian from a bunch of thugs who have nothing better to do than piss in your Cheerios. A few people have expressed concern towards the art style in still screens, and those concerns are most definitely founded. Even in motion, the characters look and feel very stiff, not to mention that the levels themselves are flat and extremely barren.
You've got your basic set of moves: punch, kick, jump, and throw. Then you can use the shoulder triggers to dash or set up a rolling evasion. Throwing is really sketchy because you can't immediately pick up enemies, as you must wear them down a bit before you are allowed to grapple. You've also got your familiar motley crew of baddies: batt-swinging punks, whip-wielding biker skanks, and Abobo, of course. The weapons enemies drop can still be picked up and use in your war against crime.
There are a couple of cool highlights. The soundtrack features delicious remixes of classic Double Dragon jams, which have always been stellar and are even better once run through a synth rock, 80s anime filter. Also, when you lose your health, there is a small window in which your partner can come and revive you, accompanied by a cute animation of rewinding the tape on an audio cassette.
The demo ends on a pretty kickass note, with the Lee brothers walking into a pagoda that shoots into space like a rocket. There, you meet the game's big bad, this really Yoshimitsu-looking mofo, before the screen cuts to black.
If publisher Majesco prices this low, Double Dragon: Neon could be a fun distraction on a lazy weekend when it launches this summer. Just be aware that this is shaping up to be nothing more than an NES game given a polygonal facelift.