One of the games I have been playing a lot of recently is Way Forward’s Double Dragon Neon, available on PSN/Xbox Live. This game is pure awesome because it manages to be a throwback to the 80’s original Double Dragon game whilst updating the graphics, gameplay and music to more modern sensibilities.
You see, there is a difference between retaining that ‘old school’ feel and actually being ‘old school’. It works because it is a nostalgic throwback to the structure and feel of the of the original game whilst making it a more forgiving gameplay experience by allowing you to upgrade your stats and special moves – something which an old school ‘take it or leave it’ arcade style game would never let you do. This RPG element is what gives the game its replayability factor, similar to games such as Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game and the seminal Castle Crashers.
The actual fighting mechanics have also been improved, allowing for combos, an evasive roll move, as well as expanding on the variety of weapons that can be picked up and environmental hazards that can be turned on the enemies.
Anyone who grew up in the 80s will love the myriad of references in this game – a particular standout for me being the music, all of which (composed by Jake Kaufman) can be listened for free HERE. Favourite tracks of mine include City Streets 2 (Mango Tango – Neon Jungle) a jaunty pop ballad, and Space Dojo 2 (Billy and the Breakers – Firebird) which is influenced by 80’s hair metal, complete with motivational lyrics. Even every power-up has its own 80’s music inspired theme, ranging from hiphop, power ballad, synth-pop and more.
The great thing about it is that all the humour is definitely tongue in cheek – from the bromance of Billy and Jimmy, to the cackling Skeletor-alike outbursts from arch nemesis Skullmageddon – one of the most memorably hilarious villains in recent memory. It doesn't take itself seriously, which allows for the glorious 80s excess such as a building that turns into a rocket ship, a helicopter that can fly upside down, a genetically modified mutant plant that has a T-Rex head at the end of one tentacle and a great white shark on the other, as well as plenty of neon throughout.
In response to Skullmageddon’s taunt of ‘follow me - if you dare!’, as he jumps through a space/time portal – the brothers reply, ‘Oh I dare! I Double Dragon dare!’ – something that developer Way Forward definitely have done – dared to update a classic into a very worthy, extremely playable and fun gaming experience.
If you are a fan of 80’s games, 80’s music or just scrolling beat ‘em-ups in general – definitely check this one out!
23 Oct 2012