Just days before PAX East this year, Double Dragon Neon was announced as a downloadable title coming to XBLA and PSN. The most exciting part of this announcement for me was the fact that it was being developed by Wayforward, the same studio that delivered the beautiful Bloodrayne: Betrayal. So, while at PAX East this year I decided to check it out.
The premise remains the same, a girlfriend of one the brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee, is kidnapped by some thugs. This begins the brothers’ rampage of crackin all kinds of gangster heads as they look to free the kidnapped woman. Sounds like Double Dragon right? All of your old frenemies are back, Linda, Bobo and more. The main culprit however has changed from Machine Gun Willy to Skullmageddon. Yes, you read that right. I was told Wayforward was going for a Big Trouble in Little China vibe and I think they hit it.
One of the new things Wayforward has added is the mixtape mechanic. So, each player can customize their own mixtape with upto five songs. Each song is actually a specific skill you can use, giving you the ability to customize your skill set to your play style. I know that the mixtape mechanic is also used as a level up system, but exactly how is will be utilized is not known. One last thing that the mixtape allows you to do is bring a player back from death. After a player is ko’d, the other player may walk over and try to revive them. This happens as a cassette tape appears above the fallen player. Your job as the reviver is to rewind the cassette tape, like the dinosaurs used to do in the 80′s. Stick a pen/pencil through one reel and turn. Once the tape is rewound, the player is revived.
So, now for the important part, was the demo I played fun? Let’s find out. I was started off at the very beginning of the game, to watch the crime of kidnapping unfold before me. The controls were very simple punch, kick, jump, block. Simple beat’em up style. The gameplay is still the same, walk/run until the screen stops then knockout every enemy that comes on the screen. Your favorite weapons are back, such as the whip, bat and others. Basically, it is still Double Dragon just with a facelift.
I enjoyed the direction in which they are taking the visuals. The colors are vibrant and everything seemed to pop off the screen. The Bobo enemy is enormous and Linda is as sexy as ever. The two brothers? Still look like they could kick some ass. Towards the end of the demo is where we got our first glimpse of Skullmageddon, think an evil samurai in skull armor and a glowing green sword from hell. He looks like a real treat.
The iconic spin kick is still present in the game, although the animation for it had not been implemented into the demo due to time constraints. There will be ways for the players to help each other such as, power-up high-fives, but I didn’t experience these in my demo. I enjoyed what I played, but wasn’t necessarily blown away. The combat didn’t seem very deep nor very exciting, but with that being said, it’s still in development and a ways from being released. I’m still going to keep my eyes on it, as it has a lot of potential. Not to mention my trust and faith in whatever Wayforward develops.