A Bright Neon-y Update (E3 2012)
Ever think Double Dragon would ever come back to consoles proper after the original company closed in the 1990s? Did you even know that? Well, for both audiences and other people who just like to play beat em' ups, I have the perfect game for you: Double Dragon Neon. It's the perfect combination of old and new to get you through those long summer afternoons.
While Double Dragon Neon isn't a new entry, it isn't exactly a remake either. Neon takes various levels from the three main Double Dragon games and reimagines them. But don't fret; over the years, Double Dragon has been reimagined plenty of times. Remember the movie? Remember the Saturday morning cartoon? Well this version's aesthetic is totally different from those; Neon totally embraces the 80s decade that the original comes from. As the brothers go through various places to save Mariam, everything is bright and neon-tinged.
Enemies look completely different in Double Dragon Neon, and sometimes it's hard to tell who was who back in the original. The woman with the whip is back and almost looks like Mariam. The grunts have been re-imagined to fit in with the 80s aesthetic: one enemy has an afro, and Adobo looks better in this version.
The E3 playable demo tucked away in the corner of Majesco's booth as a last minute addition was well polished. All of the game's classic mechanics were there, and as I said before, this game isn't an exact remake of any existing game in the series. Billy and Jimmy's attacks are more fluid now, and there are a lot of ways to attack enemies, such as hitting them while they're knocked on the ground.
If you were one of the players who thought there were no defensive options throughout the series, Double Dragon Neon now lets players dodge enemy attacks. The weapon system has been expanded, and there are a lot of items that can be picked up now compared to the first game. The funniest weapon was an afro pick that can be picked up and thrown when you knock down the enemy who has an afro. The one attack style that that wasn't shown off in its full capacity was the special attacks. Throughout levels, players can collect tapes that will eventually unlock special attacks that can be switched on the fly. What was shown off was a basic fireball attack, and it seems that there may be at least one new attack per level to collect.
Stages offered in the Double Dragon Neon demo included the opening level of the first Double Dragon (complete with kidnapping), and a difficult level from the sequel. Having played the first Double Dragon to death, it was great seeing the game reimagined; it really felt familiar but completely new at the same time. Certain difficult sections have been removed, so everything plays differently. The other levels were completely new to me, involving light platform skills or traps that would pull characters into space.
Completely new to the Double Dragon experience is team up skills. Putting the right thumbstick to use, pressing one of the four directions initiates a High 5 from one of the Lee brothers. The other brother can then move in to complete the gesture, and then one of three things happen: both players heal themselves and split health evenly, one player steals health from the other, or an attack damages all enemies on screen. What's even cooler is the ability to revive a teammate close to death by rewinding the tape of their life, pushing death one song (or health item) away.
Double Dragon Neon, a collaboration between Majesco and WayForward productions, with the blessing of the creator of the original Double Dragon all the way in Japan, promises to have something for fans old and new of the long-running series when it releases later this summer. I can't wait to play the full version of a title that isn't afraid to laugh at itself, with completely new graphics and new gameplay mechanics.
Akil is a big fan of video games and music, specifically fighting games and R&B. Other interests include game design, and comedy. His background in game design combined with his unique worldview and sense of humor makes him someone to follow.
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