The Double Dragon franchise has certainly seen its share of ups and downs. From the original game in 1987 to the iPhone release in 2011, Double Dragon has stretched itself over many decades, and several platforms. Unfortunately for many fans of the series (and to those unlucky enough to give this game a try), Double Dragon Neon (DDN) does not move forward in any sort of positive direction. In fact, aside from some new visuals and music, it hardly moves at all.
Good news first, DDN is colorful and features some very cool music that syncs well with the style of play. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new “Stances” and different powers to aid you in your quest to save Marion. Some of these powers feature extensive and thrilling visuals, while others are quite bland. Co-op mode is just as fun as it has always been in Double Dragon games, and gives you an even larger arsenal of attacks to throw at your enemies. That aside, none of the positive features in any way make up for how broken this game actually is. What was acceptable in 1987 just doesn’t quite cut it with modern day action games.
Light ‘em up!
So now we come to the unfortunate bad news, and given the immenseness of it, let’s take it slow. My first case against DDN is how the game seems to drag along at a monotonous pace. The music and visuals cry out to make this a fast-paced, action-packed game, but this is simply not the case. DDN is slow and repetitive, with horrible control mechanics and frustrating combat design. Besides the fact that almost all moves require perfect alignment on the player’s part, most enemies have some sort of attack that makes them seemingly invulnerable for its duration. Prepare to spend a lot of time on the ground in DDN, especially early on as you stagger to get a handle on the controls.
Boredom and frustration are a potent mix for button mashing, which is what you’ll ultimately revert to after realizing how taxing it is to die in DDN. If at any point an opponent manages to knock you out for good, you’ll be sent all the way back to the beginning of that level. No big deal right? Wrong, as you’ll now be faced with all of the same enemies, in the exact same intervals, with the exact same frustrating problems that you wrestled your way through the first time (or second, or third, etc…).
Managing to survive yields this little gem
While not quite as bad as the live action film in 1994, which to this day still has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, DDN certainly does not do any favors to the franchise. My advice would be to let a once glowing franchise keep its proper place in 1980 and remain a classic in our hearts.
Classics never die… unless you
murder them in cold blood.