Friday, June 29, 2012

Double Dragon: Neon interview

Double Dragon has always been one of my most treasured vintage franchises. While never finding a successful way to extend its legendary reach this generation, Majesco and Way Forward might have finally discovered it. Combining everything Double Dragon with contemporary visuals, auditory style and bucket loads of exaggeration, Double Dragon: Neon is basically The Expendables of video games. With that said, if there's one arcade game you should be excited for, it's undoubtedly this one.

Double Dragon: Neon interview


We covered a bit of Neon back at PAX East in April and a lot has changed since then. In our hands-on demo, the always classy Pete Rosky showed us some of the new mechanics. But before we get too deep into that, I feel it's necessary to state that Neon is a full re-imagining of Double Dragon. It's a proverbial love letter to Double Dragon and the 80's so expect to see everything you loved about the old school games, but also expect to see them refined and fully exaggerated. Perhaps that might put some people off since it isn't a 'pure' remake of the game, but I implore you to stay with me here.

There's always time for a high-five.

The original levels and moves are exactly how you remember them, but with more flair and less flak. For example, controls have been smoothed out and modernized. Instead of pressing two buttons to jump and hoping it works, you can tap one button like a normal game. The first level still begins with Marian getting brutally gut-punched and ends with you blasting off into... space. So that space part wasn't there before, but the humour injected is priceless. Once again, expect everything from the original game but better. Billy and Jimmy Lee go into space, man. Seriously, just take my money.

Gameplay lost in time.

Back to the mechanics. So Neon follows an upgrade system focused on what's called the mixtape. Like the times of old, each tape has two sides; A and B. The 'A' side is your physical abilities like grenades, fireballs and that classic elbow everyone loves. Side 'B' is all about passive moves that can increase your health, speed or even abilities on the 'A' side. As you progress through the game, you'll find new tapes and cash you can use to augment your dudes at the Tapesmith. Yes, the Tapesmith. Actually, tapes play such a major role in the game that if you're playing with a friend and he goes down, you can revive him by reeling back the mixtape. Maybe some of you young 'ins don't get it, but someone like me who actually remembers those things should find it rather hilarious.

Double Dragon: Neon gameplay


All joking aside, the combat is incredibly solid in Neon. It's still the same 2D sidescrolling beat 'em up you loved and the system still remains fun. Of course, the best bet is to play the game with a buddy and there will be multiplayer over the internet as well as local. Going with the exaggerated theme though, expect to find crazy weapons like a cattle prod, a ninja sai and even a hair comb. You can even give your buddy a high-five to split your health if someone is running low, or to slam the enemies around you to the ground who witness the pure masculinity of the moment. Clearly Way Forward is having a blast making this game and Pete Rosky had this to say about it:

"Imagine you got the opportunity to take your favorite parts of the Double Dragon franchise and make your own game. That's exactly what Way Forward did here."

Any self-proclaiming Double Dragon fan needs Neon and while it's definitely different, the experience in the package is solid to recommend it to practically anybody. Unfortunately there still isn't a release date on the game, but we do know it'll be out before the Summer ends. Expect it to be around the $10-15 mark or 800 to 1200 Microsoft Astral Pennies.

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