Double Dragon: Neon is an odd case. This isn't really like the arcade games, it's more of an action-rpg with beatemup elements. Yeah I know, it's confusing isn't it? Just hear(read) me out. Technos Japan, the original developer of Double Dragon, also created the Kunio-Kun franchise. Remember NES classics like Super Dodgeball and River City Ransom? That's Kunio-Kun. Neon is a combination of RCR and DD. You collect or purchase and upgrade mix-tapes to improve your stats as well as use special abilities. This game is made up of 10 missions, all of them linear, with a structure that mostly adheres to the arcade games.
Now if you just want a straight-up Double Dragon beatemup without all of that RPG nonsense, I'd suggest Double Dragon Advance (GBA). It is in my opinion the best entry in the classic series. In any case, we're strictly talking about Neon for the rest of this review.
Some days it just doesn't pay to hang out in front of your boyfriend's garage, as Marian gets kidnapped AGAIN. This time around the villain is a lovely chap by the name of Skullmageddon. A silly name deserves a silly character, and he's all that and more. This is the goofiest and most 80s entry in the series. Along with a ton of familiar names (with not so familiar faces), there are a handful of new enemies and bosses to contend with. Aesthetically this game is very well-done, with a truly excellent soundtrack that elevates it to another level.
Since these days it apparently isn't enough to make a game about beating hundreds of people up, Neon features RPG elements. Trying to ignore them in search of a "legitimate" challenge will just frustrate and anger you. There are 20 mix-tapes, 10 are special moves, 10 function as stat-boosting equipment. You can switch mix-tapes at any moment in the game. It's strategic in a sense. You can switch to a magic-boosting tape and fling a few fireballs, then switch to your absorb tape to replenish some health. You can even micro-manage like you're playing a JRPG with an ATB (active-time-beatemup) system.
The actual fighting is comparable to the previous games, although slightly stiffer. Some moves have been changed around or removed, but classics such as the flying knee and spin-kick are always handy. The most important move is the duck. When you duck an enemy's attack at the right moment, you get the glow and do 4x damage for a few seconds. Also while ducking you can do an evasive roll. This is an extremely useful move to master. Overall the fighting is standard, but it's enjoyable. It could be more satisfying I suppose, but juggling an enemy never gets old.
As you'd expect from a Double Dragon game, Billy and Jimmy can team up some brotastic bro-op fun. Just don't expect much if you attempt to play online. I've tried hosting a few times and the results were pitiful. Players would jump on, play for a minute or two, and then just leave. I'm not sure what the deal is here. I've read that the online doesn't function properly, or it has issues with certain machines, or it only works when it's raining in Georgia. Whatever the case, it's a darn shame that more people can't enjoy this game online, it's way more fun with a friend. There's always local-play at least.
There are other issues with the PC port, such as memory leakage, crashes, and so on. I didn't really experience anything firsthand, so I guess I lucked out. While there was a patch early last year, it apparently didn't go far enough in fixing the game. Abstraction Games, the team responsible for the Neon port, had ONE TESTER working on it.
What the Butt?
I couldn't believe it. Let's figure this out.
While the PC can be considered an easy platform to develop for, you have to account for a multitude of variables. How do you expect to make a game that's compatible with every PC, when it was only tested with one?
Another problem with having ONE TESTER is that Double Dragon is an online co-operative game. You can't possibly expect ONE person to test a TWO player game...can you?
At the very least a beta-test should have been done. It's not like volunteers are that hard to come by. Hell, it seems like these days we're all beta-testers (especially whenever a new Assassin's Creed is released). It'd be nice to beta-test a game for free instead of paying for it. Wow...ONE TESTER...I just can't get over that.
All in all Double Dragon Neon is a good game. It's quasi-beatemup/RPG elements give it it a rather unique spin, and I can't recommend the soundtrack enough. Just do some research, hold your breath, and hope for the best if you plan on getting this port. It just might crash and burn on you.