Quantcast
Review: Double Dragon: Neon - Destructoid




Game database:   #ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ         ALL     Xbox One     PS4     360     PS3     WiiU     Wii     PC     3DS     DS     PS Vita     PSP     iOS     Android


Double Dragon: Neon  




Review: Double Dragon: Neon photo
Review: Double Dragon: Neon

5:00 PM on 02.14.2014

Grab a bro


Beat-’em-ups are quite the strange genre to me. I grew playing many of them: Simpsons, X-Men, and Turtles in Time in the arcades were my jam. In fact, I’d say they are still my jam. That said, it’s easy to recognize their faults, which are really faults of the genre as a whole, even if those faults seem to melt away when playing with some buddies. Lining up attacks can be a chore and they’re generally painfully simplistic when it comes to actual gameplay.

Double Dragon: Neon is a carefully crafted love-letter to a genre and a time period. It is an '80s beat-'em-up through and through, but with one caveat: it has some of the best gameplay to ever grace the genre.

Double Dragon: Neon (PC [reviewed], PSN, XBLA)
Developer: WayForward, Abstraction Games
Publisher: Midnight City
MSRP: $9.99
Release Date: February 6, 2014 (PC) 

Double Dragon. Billy’s girlfriend, Marian is kidnapped. Get her back. Story.

The plot is barebones because, well, games of this time and genre always had barebones plots and this is really a re-telling of the original Double Dragon tale. The story advances through some in-game actions at the end of levels along with lines of voice work interspersed throughout the levels themselves like “I have to find Marian!” Special praise goes towards Skullmageddon, the pun-loving antagonist in Double Dragon: Neon. His voice work and dialogue are so damn amazing that each encounter is something truly special. The ending, in particular, is something you won’t forget any time soon.

In the beginning, players may think that Neon has “clunky” controls. Things seem to happen sluggishly, regardless of what your fingers are doing. You see, the controls take some time to really understand. They’re “clunky” on purpose. Everything has some weight to it, even running. It’s deliberate, not clunky. Mashing buttons, which is common in the genre, is sure to result in a swift death. Think of it like a fighting game: everything has a certain amount of frames, and that’s how long the move takes.

Like a fighting game, a player who understands the controls will be pulling off some “bread and butter” combos to defeat even the most common of enemies. The first enemies encountered are no joke: if they manage to pull off their combo (two hits), you’ll be down about half of your health. Half! On Normal difficulty! Give it time, and after a while you will be executing very intentional combos that really feel satisfying.

At the core of the gameplay is the dodge mechanic. A perfect dodge results in “Gleam,” significantly increasing the damage of all attacks. Even without perfect dodges, evading attacks is absolutely crucial because as I mentioned, one mistake can lead to a lot of health being taken away. If a direction is pressed while dodging, the player will roll in that direction. Mastering the dodge is the first step to mastering the combat.

When playing cooperatively, both players can high-five each other. This is a mechanic in the game. Players can high-five to gain health or earn Gleam, chosen by the initiating high-fiver. But be careful! Your bro can totally psych you out and leave you with nothing!  

In addition to punches and kicks, there are special moves, called Sosetsitsu, which can be collected and used. In order to unlock Sosetsitsu moves, a player must first collect cassette tapes from defeated enemies. The more tapes of a specific Sosetsitsu collected, the more powerful that tape gets. This means that your favorite Sosetsitsu might be significantly weaker than others, due to nothing but dumb luck. On the other hand, this situation may encourage players to use Sosetsitsu moves that they would otherwise ignore, adding more diversity to their playstyle. These moves use an energy bar, and each moves uses a different amount of energy.

There are also Stances, collected in the same way. These are passive abilities, usually in the form of stat increases. Some will have specific conditions, like increases attack power in correspondence with consecutive hits, while others will straight up increase a player’s defense. Like the Sosetsitsu moves, these are acquired and improved by collecting tapes.

Double Dragon: Neon supports fully rebindable keybind controls, but regardless of which keys were used I couldn’t get comfortable playing on a keyboard. Once I began using an Xbox 360 controller, however, everything was much better off. It doesn’t natively support controls outside of the Xbox controller, so keep that in mind when jumping in.

This game is the '80s. It’s a beat-'em-up with cassette tapes, bright neon lights and colors, and over-sexualized men and women, the latter occasionally screaming “punish me!” as they die. Everything about the aesthetic acts like a time machine to an era saturated with hair metal, jean jackets, and Rubik’s cubes. The game is also absolutely hysterical. As mentioned, Skullmageddon steals the show every single time he’s on screen. Enemies cartwheel on screen yelling “GYMNASTICS!” Billy will ask “What the butt?!” when trying to use a key on nothing. It’s as campy as Adam West’s Batman on a camping trip in the best of ways.

Super special mention has to go to the game’s audio. Jake Kaufman is absolutely brilliant. It evokes classic '80s metal and arcade games simultaneously, fitting the game’s theme perfectly. In what might be the best thing ever, each Stance and Sosetsitsu has its own jingle to go along with it for when the player hovers over it. These jingles are, to put it bluntly, completely mindblowing. They’re simple, stupid, and again, contribute to the overall campy '80s feel of the entire game. Without Mr. Kaufman, Double Dragon: Neon would fall painfully short of being “the complete package.” With him, the game is elevated to a level that very few achieve.

Not everything is perfect in this PC version, however. There seems to be some stuttering after playing for a certain amount of time, likely due to a memory leak. Rebooting the game solves the problem, but that doesn’t absolve the issue. Online multiplayer is also included in this version, but from my experience, the lag makes it unplayable. Considering how demanding the combat system is, input lag is nothing short of a death sentence.

In addition, it is possible to join someone else’s game at any point, without being able to filter. When I searched for a game, I joined someone who was in the process of fighting the final boss, even though my save file was still on level three. Had I not already beaten the game, I would have been pretty upset considering how delightfully wonderful the finale is. If you don’t want anything spoiled, host your own games.

I fear that a lot of people will give up on Double Dragon: Neon too early, either because it “isn’t real Double Dragon” or because of the “clunky controls.” I encourage you to stick with it, because Neon truly is one of the best games in the genre from any decade. It’s got humor, visual flair, excellent gameplay, and a brilliant soundtrack. Some technical problems hold this version back from being near-flawless, so it might be in your best interest to grab a “bro” and team up in local multiplayer, high-fiving each other until your hands bleed.

I think Double Dragon: Neon can be summed up perfectly using a jingle from one of the game’s Stances, titled "Training Wheels": "Dad took off my training wheels, boy oh boy how good it feels!"



THE VERDICT - Double Dragon: Neon

Reviewed by Patrick Hancock

9 /10
Superb: A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title. Check out more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.








Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.





timeline following:
Double Dragon: Neon



6:30 PM on 02.27.2014
Double Dragon: Neon update addresses online lag

Patrick reviewed the recent PC version of Double Dragon: Neon and found the game itself to be rad but couldn't say the same for its online cooperative play due to input lag. A new update on Steam has been released to remedy t...more



2:45 PM on 02.06.2014
Double Dragon: Neon now available on Steam

The zaniest adventure of Billy and Jimmy Lee is available for PC players today, as Double Dragon: Neon arrives on Steam. You may now purchase it for the perfectly reasonable sum of $9.99. Setting aside all of the awesome...more



11:45 AM on 01.08.2014
Double Dragon: Neon coming to Steam with online co-op

Midnight City has announced the PC version of Double Dragon: Neon and the big new addition for Steam is the inclusion of online cooperative play. That's more than enough reason to play this again, in part, for its killer sou...more



4:30 PM on 09.13.2012
Radical! Double Dragon: Neon's soundtrack is FREE!

Our review of Double Dragon: Neon is coming, slowly but surely. The impressions of those on staff who have played it, though, aren't all that positive. But even if the game itself isn't hot to trot, the soundtrack is bloody b...more



5:00 PM on 09.09.2012
Double Dragon: Neon OST listening party's gonna be strong

[Update #2: Bzzt, wrong again! Jake Kaufman has confirmed that Majesco has come through and the soundtrack will be available after the podcast. So get ready to win!][Update: We were alerted to an error in this story. The...more



5:00 PM on 09.06.2012
Double Dragon: Neon goes glam in latest footage

I completely forgot that Double Dragon: Neon was coming out next week, probably because I wasn't totally blown away during my hands-on session back at PAX East. Developer WayForward doesn't seem interested in overhauling the...more



8:30 PM on 07.18.2012
You're probably going to forget about Double Dragon: Neon

[Update: My mistake, I read the date wrong in the press release. Double Dragon: Neon is actually coming out in September. Far better timing than the blockbuster month of November, with the exception of Borderlands 2 and Kirby...more



11:56 AM on 04.07.2012
PAX: Double Dragon: Neon is Double Dragon-y

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 an...more



8:30 PM on 04.04.2012
WayForward announces Double Dragon: Neon for XBLA, PSN

When I saw headlines about WayForward working on something called Double Dragon: Neon, my eyes lit up. And then I glanced at the first screenshots. It's not that this reboot looks bad necessarily, but I was expecting some kil...more




Brawlers

5:45 PM on 07.12.2014
I'm going to miss tripping in Super Smash Bros. 4

[Art by Fallen Party] [Update: Some of you are pretty upset about the article! Sorry about that. Also, a few people pointed out a couple of mistakes I made. First, I wrote that you can block in the air in Smash Bros. Looks li...more



8:00 AM on 07.05.2014
Senran Kagura 2 trailer sure is very Senran Kagura

Marvelous is keeping its cheeky money-printing machine going strong with Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson. The latest effort from self-proclaimed "huge boob producer" Kenichiro Takaki is due to be unleashed in Japan starti...more



12:00 PM on 06.20.2014
Kyoto Wild is a quick but thoughtful Bushido brawler

Teddy Diefenbach is a busy guy. He's one of the developers on the high-profile indie title Hyper Light Drifter, but when he isn't doing that, he's making more games. Kyoto Wild is his side-project, and Diefenbach says he...more



View all Brawlers






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more