So Neon adds crazy humor and an addictive unlocking system to the Double Dragon formula, but what of the co-op? Why, it seriously brings the game to life. Billy and Jimmy get unique lines of dialogue in multiplayer, and I couldn’t help but laugh when one brother exclaimed, “Hurry up, butt weasel!” while waiting for his sibling to go through a door. Friendly fire can be toggled in the options screen - necessary for an Achievement or two. Speaking of which, both players earn Achievements during co-op games, and their progress gets saved independently. Check out this article for further Achievement anaylsis.
Either player can initiate one of three high five moves by pressing directions on the right analog stick. The other players just has to accept the invitation by tapping his or her stick, instantly giving both brothers a gleam, splitting life between them, or stealing the other’s life. It’s a great optional mechanic and I love seeing Billy and Jimmy fly across the screen for epic long distance high fives.
Players can also revive each other by rewinding the floating tape that appears over a fallen comrade before time runs out and he loses a life. Not only is it a clever twist on something we’ve seen before, reviving is important for the lives it saves. Each player always starts a level with two lives, but another player can really help those lives go a long way. A dead player can steal lives from the living one, just like in games of yore.
If you run out of lives, you retain any upgrades you picked up but have to start the level over or return to the map screen. This lack of mid-mission checkpoints might be too old-school for some. Admittedly the single-player difficulty curves a bit too steeply, much as in other Wayforward games. But you can always compensate by going back to past levels and building up your tapes a bit, buying extra lives in shops, or simply by playing more skillfully.
The only less than brilliant aspect to Neon’s multiplayer is that the game launched without online co-op. The developers have promised to add online support in a patch very soon, which surely means it will come a lot sooner than a certain other beat-em-up’s online mode. I don’t lack for local partners, but it’s a shame that not everyone can fully enjoy the game in its current state. When the online patch finally comes around, we'll update this review and adjust the co-op score if appropriate.
Double Dragon: Neon took a lot of risks by squeezing so many new elements into a classic game. Thankfully just about every change paid off in a big way. The colorful and cartoonish art style, brilliant soundtrack (impressions here), abundance of weapons (which are actually effective here, unlike the original arcade game), and copious eighties references transform a wonderful old game into something even more wonderful. Play Neon with a friend and you’ll laugh out loud together more than once, all while enjoying the time-honored recreation of pounding your foes into submission. That joy has helped make this my all-time favorite brawler.
The Co-Optimus review of Double Dragon: Neon is based on the XBLA version of the game, which was provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: Two players can take on the roll of the Lee brothers, battling enemies with friendly fire enabled or disabled. Three high-five moves require cooperation to perform, allowing players to share life, buff each other, or steal life. Downed players can be revived by rewinding a floating tape (rapidly pressing a button) that floats over their bodies. A player who runs out of lives can also steal a life from the remaining player. Neon launched with only local co-op, but the developers have promised to add online co-op in a post-release patch.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.