Double Dragon Neon
Only two days after the game’s announcement, WayForward has made their upcoming Double Dragon Neon playable on the PAX East show floor. The developer has a history of creating solid new installments for established IP, as seen with A Boy and His Blob (Wii) and Contra 4 (DS). Their first shot at the Double Dragon series releases this summer, and I had a chance to try it out today.
While a representative for WayForward told me that the game will explore brand-new territory, the demo area was a clear callback to the original game’s classic beginning. Once again, damsel in distress Marian is socked in the stomach by a group of goons before being kidnapped. It doesn’t take long for a garage door to open, and Billy and Jimmy head out once again to her rescue.
Within seconds of assuming the controls, I reunited my fist to the face of familiar baddies like the afro-coiffed Williams and the whip-wielding dominatrix Linda. If you’ve ever played a Double Dragon game, you won’t be surprised to learn that it features numerous weapons to pick up and environmental objects to destroy. After beating down one version of Williams, I picked up his afro pick and flung it at Linda. Classic weapons like the baseball bat and whip are back, as well as new items like the hand grenade.
Combat was fairly simple, and stays true to the series’ brawler roots. Initially, Billy and Jimmy can punch, kick, perform ground attacks, and wield weapons. As you progress and earn cash, however, you can significantly improve your abilities and stats via the new mix tape system. Players start with a blank cassette tape, and you can pay a character known as the Tapesmith to record new “songs” to it. Each song offers something new for your character, and they range from speed and health bonuses to new abilities like a fireball attack.
A new co-op system is in place in case you get in trouble, and it’s activated by high-fiving your partner. Let’s say the new, bigger version of Abobo has you on the ropes. You can ask for a high five from your partner, and he’ll give you some of his health if he accepts the gesture. Several high five options are available, and they’re activated with different directions on the right analog stick. One shares health, another shares ability energy, and another steals health from your partner (via a “too slow” hand pull-away).
While the demo stage was very much a throwback to the first stage of the original Double Dragon, it’ll be interesting to see where WayForward takes the brawler action. The demo ends with players entering a building that unexpectedly blasts into space, although we weren’t able to see what the gameplay of the next stage consisted of. A brief animation was shown of new antagonist Skullmageddon as he held Marian hostage. We’re not sure who he is or how he got that awesome name, but we can’t wait until we can punch him in the face and get our girl back when Double Dragon Neon releases on XBLA and PSN this summer.