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E3 2012: Double Dragon Neon (Hands-on)

Posted by: Matt at 6/12/2012 6:30 PM
Tucked away behind NBA Baller Beats and Zumba Fitness Core, Majesco was hiding one of the gems of the show, Double Dragon Neon, by Wayforward. Initial screens of this game did not do this game any favors and I went in to this hands-on wishing I was somewhere else, and the next thing I know, I'd played through all the levels on the show demo, and I wanted more. Wayforward has taken one of my favorite properties from the 80's and has given it a lot of love, and it shows in just about every little detail in the game.

From the exit through the garage door at the start of the first game, to the crouching knee attacks from the second, it feels like every piece of Double Dragon's franchise has found its way back to this game, along with some brilliant additions. First off, the combat felt great, I mean really great. Combos were easy to pull off, with an added ability to juggle foes and grab them out of the air. Weapons felt powerful without being overly broken, and some of them were just hilarious. I found a hair pick on the ground, and would chuck it at a boss, this would actually distract him enough to make him remove it from his head, leaving him open for attacks.

Multiplayer had a couple of cool features, like the ability to revive downed players (with an animated pencil rewinding a casette tape), and one of the best additions, high-fives. Players can call for an elevated hand slap and it allows for a couple of cool and hilarious options. Players can team up and even out their life meters, or one player can psych out the other and steal a little bit of his life. Players can also give themselves a slight power boost, or they can dodge attacks at the right moment to receive the same power boost. There's also special moves that can be unlocked by picking up mix-tapes that are dropped by enemies. The demo only had the fireball special move unlocked, and it was as simple as it could get, but it worked great in combos. 

The game itself looks really impressive, the art for the game transitions to actual gameplay quite well and the game ran at a solid sixty frames per second. There wasn't much superfluous stuff on screen, just the enemies, Billy, and Jimmy. Some of the character designs are radically different from what gamers are used to, and I almost consider the redesign to Abobo as sacrilege. But the gameplay is so solid I pretty much don't care.

What looked like one of the worst reboots to date has turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of E3, and hopefully the rest of the game is as good as those first few levels when it releases later this summer.