Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Double Dragon Neon

Double Dragon Neon
Price: 800MS Points, AU$12.95
Like most retro gamers, when I heard a new Double Dragon is coming out I had to check the calender to make sure I didn't travel back in time. Now that the initial shock is over I can tell you that this game... isn't quite what I expected. Find out more by reading my review... or just go to a professional reviewers site for a video review. Now let's get this party started!

The story of Double Dragon Neon is just as minimal as it's older counterparts. Set in 1987, Jimmy and Bimmy... Oops! I mean Jimmy and Billy(Stupid bad writing in Double Dragon III!) are out to save Marian once again but this time she's kidnapped by Skullmageddon, who sounds an awful lot like Skeletor from He-man and the Masters of the universe... maybe that's why He-man ended? Skeletor changed his name and looks and is now on Earth running an evil organization that's main goal is to get him a date with a big boobed blonde. Seriously though the plot is as thin as paper to make it more retro.

As for how the game plays... well it's not too bad really. Almost every button is mapped to an action to expand the combat. Essentially the game plays like any old school beat 'em up but with more buttons. You can punch, kick, grab stunned enemies, run, duck/dodge and use special attacks with a button dedicated for each... and Hi 5 your partner... yeah! I'm serious! 2 grown men with mullets that call each other butt holes and Hi 5. Classic!

As you play and beat up enemies, you'll collect money and cassettes. Money is used to buy cassettes, lives and health recovery and the cassettes are used to unlock special attacks and stat boosts. You can equip the cassettes to turn the tide of combat in your favour but skills of play are still needed. The special attacks range from a simple Bruce Lee one inch punch to a flaming dragon that does heavy damage to every enemy on time. To prevent abusing the skills the game only lets you equip 1 tape for a special attack and 1 for your stat boosts.

Along with money and cassettes, you can get mythril from bosses. Mythrill is used to expand the amount of cassettes you can hold for each skill. The more cassettes you have of a skill, the more powerful it becomes. To actually buy and upgrade tapes, you need to find shops in certain stages. The shops sell different tapes at each store so buy as much as possible when you visit them. The tapesmith shop is where you cash in the mythril to upgrade the skills. I find it weird that it's called a tapesmith but whatever.

The boss fights in the game aren't many in number but can be difficult if you don't have the right mixtapes. Their patterns aren't too difficult to learn but they have a habit of juggling you and dealing heavy damage. Enemy variety, like in the millions of games ever made has an extreme amount of palette swaps... so there aren't too many different models used at all. Admittedly seeing old enemies redesigned invokes nostalgia, but it wares thin when you think about the games of today and the fact that this game somehow takes up 2.3GB of data.

Speaking of the 2.3GB the game takes up, the graphics are both cel shaded and mediocre. I usually don't talk about visuals in my reviews unless I feel it necessary and in this case it needs addressing! When you consider that the backgrounds and breakable items are 2D, why does this game take up 2.3GB? Blade Kitten is less then a gigabyte, cel shaded and uses nothing but 3D graphics and cutscenes! Also there are a lot of palette swapping in DDN so it just makes no sense to me!

The game features 10 levels with very little inspiration outside of redesigning old stages and newer stages that feel old. Some stages have hazards to avoid but they aren't so much of a hazard to you as they are to the enemy and it's spastic A.I. Within the levels you may find a key. The key is used to open a box filled with cash and tapes. They even placed a giant worm in some stages that will drop tons of cash and tapes when you wale on it. To make these little bonuses worth while, you can replay the levels to max out the skill, earn more money and mythril and visit shops... yeah... grinding... in a beat 'em up game... yay...

The game has co op just like you'd expect... what I mean is that it's local only... so no anonymous players giving you grief. You can optionally choose to have friendly fire on if you want a challenge but it's completely up to you. During co op you can give each other Hi 5's to get a a variety of stat boosts. The game is best in co op in my opinion since this is what it's meant for.

Look... this game is relying too much on nostalgia! From the remixed music to out right using the same opening moments from the original arcade classic, this has it's eyes set on retro gamers more then modern gamers. This game isn't bad at all but it feels like a nostalgia grab to me. I enjoyed the game but the game is designed for gamers like me! Modern gamers won't give a crap about this and I won't blame them. If you enjoyed Double Dragon in the golden age, then it's a must buy! Other then that it's not really worth it, even though it's cheap.

Score 3/5

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