Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

R9M12- Greed Is Too Awesome To Not Be Contained

Sloth will save the Universe tomorrooow. Let it alooone.
Or! Sloth is a vengeful god that has passed judgment on this world and found it lacking. Woe unto you for not providing your gooey god with fluffier pillows, more soothing rain white noise, and more controlled climate control! You will look up to your Spirit Realm masters, beg for mercy, and be rebutted with a “Meh”.


Quick Review: Double Dragon Neon- For starters, I played this game because it was on sale for 99 cents. But even at 99 cents, it's still feels like a ripoff. They brought some good ideas to modernize beat 'em ups, but the execution didn't quite work out. The ability to select perks and power them up through the game is a great idea. The world map setup that let's you replay stages is a nice touch when combined with the upgrades and item shops. It's just that the gameplay isn't very fun. It feels like the character's reach isn't far enough and you frequently see your arms or weapons move through the enemies. Worse, there are delays between when you press the button and when you act. It takes so long to start up a dash that it just isn't useful. You can't cancel out of attacks, so if you started a move and then the enemy stops taking stun damage and winds up for a big strike, you just have to eat the hit. This becomes a frequent and annoying hindrance to trying to just enjoy playing the game because enemies seemingly randomly stop reacting to hits or just become invincible, so you wind up taking a lot of hits that feel unfair. Even small design decisions are done badly. After selecting your profile, “New Game” is the default option instead of “Continue”. The first time you find an upgrade shop, you don't have any of the special currency needed to upgrade your moves. After replaying the level when I had some of the ore, I came back to the shop, upgraded, and it did... nothing. Upgrading just lets you hold more songs and power them up that way, but the perk I was using was apparently so rare that halfway through the game, I still hadn't found another tape so upgrading was pointless. That's a really poor way to teach somebody about a system. Even when you do have the resource to upgrade perks, there are only two upgrade shops in the game so you have to replay those stages any time you want to power something up. The screen also doesn't fit my TV properly and there's no way to adjust it from within the game. I don't have that issue with other games, so it's something specific to DD. Oh, and the game crashes if you try to quit it back to the PS3 home screen. Quality stuff. I am not a fan of WayForward's 3D work and the 2D art here was contracted out, so I can't even give them credit for the simple things I did like.
The game is clearly set up to be played with two people, to the point that it feels like you should have an AI partner in single player. In multiplayer, you can revive your partner but in single-player you can't, so you're stuck with the restrictive lives system. Enemies frequently quickly switch sides of the screen so the game expects there to be one person on each side. The first boss hits you then teleports to the opposite side and taunts, which in multiplayer is a great time to beat on him, but in single player, by the time you get up and run over to him, he's recovered and no longer vulnerable. There's a boss that's a Little Shop of Horrors reference and it's a really easy fight, but in single player, the battle lasts forever. There are two parts to the boss on opposite sides of the screen, so in single player you have to very slowly chip away at one side and beat it down, then go over to the other side and repeat the process all over again. The final boss is total garbage and every time you die, you have to sit through an unskippable over 20 second intro. Unless you're using a specific set of perks, he has a move that will kill you in one hit, and since I had played through the entire game without using one of those perks, I was extremely underpowered. If I wanted to power it up, I'd have to grind in earlier levels but then have to replay the final stage to get back to the boss and the game is nowhere near good enough to enjoy that. After an hour and a half of beating the same stage over and over to get enough resources to upgrade a different perk, I had maxed out the apparently useful one. Keep in mind that I was able to reach the final level in less than two and a half hours, so the amount of time I had to grind was almost 66% of the entire game's length. However, with that perk, I was able to completely breeze through the final level and both boss fights without losing a single life. That's pathetic. If your ability to beat the game is almost entirely dependent on how much you've leveled up a specific perk, why even use that system? It would have been far better to have tied your stats to a leveling system and let the perks just be perks. If I can't beat the game using the perk I liked, why is it even an option? Choosing a seemingly worse perk was the better option only because it dropped more often so my stats were three times higher by the end. The people that worked on this part of the game are people that shouldn't be working on games if they can botch a system that simple so horribly and think it's fine to ship that way. Which brings us over to some of the people that did make this game: the folks now running Yacht Club. So in my Shovel Knight review when I said the gameplay was mediocre but I wasn't willing to write the company off, I revise that statement. Unless they get a new game designer, I'm now totally cool with Yacht Club never making another game. The shear incompetence of the final level of Double Dragon combined with the perk system is astounding and totally brought me around on this issue.
The only nice thing I can point out here is that the joke for the game's setup is fantastic, but the game doesn't execute it well. It keeps rubbing the wackiness in your face like it isn't sure of itself. The 80s stuff alone is fine but then it has to be like, "And then the building turned into a rocket ship! Isn't that random!? This is waaacky, right!?". If they just played it straight and acted like this is how the Double Dragon world worked, it would be so much funnier. Just the beat 'em up world is perpetually dated and stuck in the 80s, people still listen to mix tapes, and high fives are magic and that's the way this universe works. That would work as a funny commentary on how dated the genre is, how silly the original game was, and give the game a fun theme. Instead, half of the joke is there but buried under all the other randomness for the sake of randomness. Whether you're a fan of Double Dragon, you're a fan of beat 'em ups, or you think beat 'em ups are stupid and deserve the mockery they get here, don't bother with this, even at 99 cents.