Double Dragon Neon (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 25.05.2021

Review for Double Dragon Neon on Nintendo Switch

When Double Dragon Neon first released back in 2012 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, it was somehow overlooked. WayForward titles are rarely ignored due to their panache for making aesthetically pleasing retro style action titles. It is possible that this was side-lined by Scott Pilgirm Vs The World: The Game, but now that time has passed, gamers can finally appreciate one of WayForward's better products. With beat 'em ups becoming more popular these days thanks to the Nintendo Switch's ease of use for co-op play, can Double Dragon Neon get a second chance for glory?

The story of Double Dragon Neon is as classic of a tale as it gets for an '80s homage to big dudes doing big attacks in action-sploitation scenarios. Billy Lee's girlfriend, Marian, gets a swift punch in the gut and gets kidnapped by Skullmageddon's goons. The story is a reimagining of the original plot of the first few Double Dragon games, and it remixes some elements to make one epic journey. The plot of beat 'em ups is hardly the reason to play them and Double Dragon Neon is no exception. However, the focus on humour and '80s nostalgia does enhance the atmosphere of this entry.

Who is Skullmageddon? He happens to be one of the greatest video game bad guys of all time. Everything about this character is enjoyable. His introduction suggests that Billy and Jimmy are about to have a show down with a cruel and skilful warrior with ages of knowledge. He sits upon a throne, has scary looking armour, and has two desirable women by his side. He rises from his seat, brandishing a tremendous and intricate sword, and then he speaks - his voice is a nasally parody of Skeletor, and he constantly spouts off puns. Skullmageddon's antics throughout the journey never stop being hilarious. Whether he is using schoolyard style mockery or he commands a helicopter to fly upside down to decapitate the heroes, he never becomes obnoxious.

Screenshot for Double Dragon Neon on Nintendo Switch

The '80s were truly a versatile era. The aesthetics associated with the decade are both cool and uncool at the same time. The gaudiness of the colours and excess in style makes the ambiance stand out from other eras. Music was at its creative peak, and that is especially present in Jake Kaufman's finest compositions he has ever produced. Most of the background music sounds like authentic songs from the '80s, with lyrics and era accurate synthesizer sounds. Even the collectible ability mix-tapes all have about a ten second loop of what sounds like Weird Al-style parodies of existing 80s hits, like Rick Astley's, Never Gona Give You Up.

Jake Kaufman's music style is put to the test in Double Dragon Neon. He shows a profound understanding of the various styles from the '80s. From the very upbeat pop song style of Mango Tango, to the hair band power ballad remix of the Double Dragon theme, Kaufman utterly nails the music so perfectly that it elevates the entire experience. The end credits song is especially impressive and also serves as a hilarious epilogue to the story's events.

Double Dragon Neon looks and sounds great, but how does it play? There have been a few stinkers for the series over the years, and thankfully, this is the best entry yet. Wayforward put a lot of care into adding much more depth and variety into a formula that can become admittedly stale or tedious. The developers managed to create a lot of unusual stage gimmicks and situations to keep things fresh and interesting. Moments where the vacuum of space can suck everyone out of an air-lock are amusing and tense. Fighting a stage-sized plant monster is also effective at mixing up the combat from the standard grunts like the Williams or the Lindas.

Screenshot for Double Dragon Neon on Nintendo Switch

The satisfying feel of combat is the cornerstone of a quality beat 'em up, and Double Dragon Neon delivers. The speed of the action is dialled back a bit compared to other examples in the genre, but it serves a purpose to allow some reaction time to the player. Billy and Jimmy's moveset is expanded from prior entries, allowing them to time dodges to gain energy to execute powerful super moves. The dodge move also can be chained into other attacks to allow it further utility instead of simply having the Lee brothers ducking all the time.

Proficient fighters will have the boys perform evasive rolls, mix the standard combo into flying knee-kicks or even leg-sweeps. The range of attack options is deep for a very retro-inspired brawler. The core moves incorporate devastating grapples that come in a variety of styles that can be cheekily used against bystanding threats. Like any quality brawler, Double Dragon Neon does feature the usual temporary weapons like a baseball bat, dominatrix whip, and the classic... afro pick. Scrambling to grab any of these on the field while being swarmed with Lindas and Abobos becomes an intense chase since enemies can wield these weapons too. After acquiring one, a sweet wave of relief washes over as Billy or Jimmy can enjoy the satisfying crack of a baseball bat connecting to Linda's skull.

Screenshot for Double Dragon Neon on Nintendo Switch

The various mix-tapes that are picked up at random can be upgraded at the tapesmith using ore which is earned from beating bosses or from hidden caches. Each tape can be equipped, and functions like selecting a play style to suit the player's needs. One tape may lean towards higher defences, while another may put a reliance on the temporary weapon pick-ups. There is a lot of flexibility and plenty of room for experimentation to find what works best for any scenario. There is even a build for those who wish to lean in heavily on parrying to quickly acquire energy for more powered-up special attacks, for a more risk-vs-reward playstyle.

The local co-op is undeniably the way to experience Double Dragon Neon. Skullmageddon sics too many threats for just one Lee brother to handle, and the Nintendo Switch's easily accessible multiplayer makes it easier than ever to drop in and join in on the brawl. If there was any disappointments with this Switch conversion of Double Dragon Neon, it would be the lack of new content. This is very much a straight port of the 2012 game, and there have been no new features or content added. Despite the lack of additional material, this is still one of the better beat 'em ups on the console.

Screenshot for Double Dragon Neon on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Beat 'em up fans should not overlook Double Dragon Neon. For some inexplicable reason, it was scorned upon release by reviewers who failed to learn how to play it. With the revival of brawlers and local co-op becoming popular again, gamers will hopefully give it a second chance. It has an amazing soundtrack that is good enough to warrant the game be played on a big screen during get-togethers, and the playability is rock solid.

Developer

WayForward Technologies

Publisher

Majesco

Genre

Brawler

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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