The Lee brothers are back! But not back back, just back. It’s Double Dragon Neon on the Nintendo Switch, has times soured this adventure, or is it like a fine wine or an 80s karate dojo with a fixation on snakes? DraGOn!.
Double Dragon Neon originally released on 360, Ps3, and Steam in 2012, developed by Wayforward it released to positive reviews, a cult following, and paved the way for the beat-em-up genre revival.
Double Dragon has always had a strange narrative, Neon is no exception. Marian has been kidnapped….again, only this time it’s the dastardly Skullmageddon who doesn’t resemble a certain He-Man villain in any way shape, or form. The Lee Brothers then decide to do what they do best, walk to the right of the screen, punching and kicking until the level ends.
While it is a basic narrative the writing is brilliantly funny, especially stuff from Skullmageddon who has more than a few comments to come out with throughout the game, the shop keepers too are also worth listening to!.
Graphically Double Dragon Neon is a product of its time, the scenery is varied and the enemies variety is there, all the classics turn up so you’ll be seeing Abobo more than a few times!. The character models are in 3D and while they work and animate well for the most part, visually it doesn’t stand up to more modern work like Streets of Rage 4, The Takeover, or River City Girls.
On the audio side of things, Double Dragon Neon is often spoken about alongside its soundtrack, and my god this thing manages to ooze pure 80s. The original tracks are phenomenal and often end up being added to my current listening soundtrack when done, the remixes of classic tracks are also expertly done and never fail to raise some goosebumps when they kick in!.
So for fans of the Dragons who have played Neon to death, nothing has been added, not the promised online co-op its effectively a straight port of the 2012 version of the game. Now for people who haven’t played Neon before this isn’t so much of a knock on the game but a warning to the fans.
Double Dragon Neon is a paint by numbers side-scrolling beat em up, while it adds shops and equips it doesn’t do much if anything to alter the formula that arguably the Lee Brothers themselves made so popular.
You’ll traverse the extremely diverse stages and trust me on your first playthrough this adventure is a trip!. The gameplay as mentioned in your character Jimmy (& Billy if you’re on co-op) fighting the legions of goons, platforming, and facing off bosses. The combat is fantastic, you can juggle foes, dodge, and even duck out of the way which powers your next set of attacks up. The only issue is the dedicated sprint button and the weighty clunk that is the Lee Brothers moving around, they feel incredibly heavy and you can only dodge left and right.
You have a standard move set, followed by special moves you unlock by finding cassette tape, remember them, kids!. You also pick up money which is spreadable in shops found within the stages, there is also a Blacksmith to power tapes up using resources bosses drop.
Now despite it being a fairly run of the mill “beat em up” it oozes charm, the music, the stage diversity, the combat and the fact it is willing to poke fun at itself and others (There is a Bimmy reference!) to this day still makes Double Dragon Neon an endearing title. There are two unlockable difficulty modes to keep chipping away at as well as a gallery mode with tones of interesting artwork and hints towards the game’s secrets.
If you haven’t played Double Dragon Neon before or have been hankering for a replay or portable version, it is an easy recommendation, if on the other hand, you’ve played it to death elsewhere then there is nothing new here to entice you which is a shame especially considering it has a lot more competition now. It is a double recommendation if you love River City Girls but never played Neon, playing through this again brought to my attention just how much shared DNA there is between the two and I can only pray for a Neon sequel in this vein or some RC cross over title.
Still a classic and well worth picking up! Long live the Lee Brothers