When I first found out that a remake of Double Dragon was in the works for 7th gen consoles, I was intrigued a lot, but then I saw the title: Double Dragon: NEON, in big, familiar looking fonts, and I 'knew' something was amiss and that there was more to it than met the eye....
...I couldn't have been more right.
Double Dragon: NEON is at it's core, a more modernized version (whether you like it or not) of many DD concepts slapped together with the addition of minor RPG elements that may cause many to complain up and down about it being casualized, but those additions are only enforced upon to a point, then you have the option to go old school hardcore and have your ass served to you on a platter just like the good old days.
The minor RPG elements that I mentioned are that of a cool leveling up system called the MIXTAPES, that are divided to two sectors, basically stat balance and special moves. You collect more tapes by giving beatdowns to have them drop randomly, or getting money to buy them at shops (by STILL giving beatdowns). When you have reached the limit of tapes for a particular area, you then have the option of increasing that limit by going to a TAPESMITH and paying in MYTHRIL to upgrade you tape count limit (which you acquire by giving beatdowns to BOSSES this time). You then find out there's only a few times you can upgrade your limit as you discover you true limit is only 5x your initial load.
The only real negative parts to this game are in the combat, there is almost no depth to the moves you can put on the baddies, yet you only have a well timed dodging ability that rewards you with extra strength as a bonus really. You also have great local two player co-op when you're enjoying this with someone next to you, but then I realized one great omission...
NO ONLINE MULTIPLAYER!!!!
Just my luck, the first time in months that I want to share this experience with someone online, and at the time of my typing this, still no update to online co-op yet. TRAVESTY!!!
Now let's get into the real highlight of this game: THE ATMOSPHERE!!! This isn't called Double Dragon: NEON for nothing, you know...
Those that come to this game expecting the same asthetics as the originals are about to have MAJOR WHIPLASH at what they get instead. The colors, the references, the satire, the in-jokes, the self awareness, the pretence... this is no mere remake or reboot, this is A JUBILATION!!! Not just of Double Dragon, not just of the series as a whole, but of an era, a decade, a period that deserves as much respect and reverence as the games it birthed. This game is a absolute love letter to the 1980's, from the fantastic and simultaneously hilarious soundtrack to all the crazy jokes and references to events, in AND out of the games, all the way up to what I shall not spoil but will call, IMO, THE BEST GAME ENDING EVER!!!
I love Double Dragon: NEON, and it breaks my heart that I can't share this enjoyment yet with friends from far away, because they need to see what I'm smiling about from beginning to end. This has made me really appreciate the decade of my birth more than ever before, I LOVE THE '80'S!!!
Happy 25th anniversary Billy and Jimmy Lee, the drinks are on me!