Years ago, Billy and Jimmy Lee, the stars of Double Dragon, dominated the arcade scene, introducing millions to classic brawling action in both arcades and on home consoles. But since that time, they’ve become a passing joke, thanks to a really lame movie (one that made Alyssa Milano look like a boy, no less) and a bunch of retreads and sequels that went nowhere fast. Luckily, the series is once again in capable hands, those of WayForward, the development team that did such a great job with Contra 4 a few years back, as well as the recent Mighty Flip Champs games.
They’re working on Double Dragon Neon, a new game in the series that returns to the classic roots of the original, while sticking with an inspired new design that’s straight out of the 80’s. No, really – it’s almost as if you expect a DeLorean to roll through the streets at any given time.
The game puts you in control of either Billy or Jimmy Lee (or both, if you’re up for two-player action) as you set out to rescue a captured girl from a group of thugs, headed up by the evil Skullmageddon. Yes, that’s his actual name. These thugs vary, from big afro’d dudes who backflip into you to big-breasted whip wielders who are just asking to be pummeled.
Double Dragon Neon features traditional Double Dragon combat, including punch and kick attacks, jumping moves, grabs and weapons. These weapons vary, from oil drums to baseball bats, and enable you to dish out some real damage on enemies. There are also occasional “Showtime” segments where you have to defeat all the bad guys in a section before you can move on, and you’re given oodles of cash for doing it.
When it comes to two-player action, the game supports both local beat-em-up action, along with online play through Xbox Live. It’s great working with a friend, especially when you’re surrounded by enemies or taking on the super-powerful Abobo, who pops in on occasion just to be a nuisance.
Just looking at the game, you can tell it’s very inspired by the 80’s, from the Biff-like haircuts to the enemy design to the small energy meters in the corner, which have a classic look to them. That’s just what WayForward is counting on, going back in time to that era without resorting to the level of cheesiness that the movie did. (Seriously, it’s that bad. Just look at the freakin’ cover art!)
With fun gameplay, sharp design and lots of classic beat-em-up fun, Double Dragon Neon looks to be a welcome return for the brothers. And what the hey, we’re happy to see Abobo as well. Look for the gang to dish out some real damage when they hit Xbox Live this summer.