After few weeks of deadlines and working my ass off on few projects I was met with a bunch of good news. First of all, The Avengers film are coming to town, the new Super Robot Wars game is pretty good and Shunjou Shuusuke does good art.
Oh and WayForward is developing a Double Dragon game. HOTDAMN I screamed as I clicked the Play button.
What is this? WayForward, what is this? This isn’t like you.
Jeremy Perish’s article at 1UP pretty much sums up my reaction and explains why all of this are the way they are. It seems that the game has been in development for some weeks now, and that mostly just tells how good the guys at WayForward are at this. 3D isn’t their forte at all, but it looks like they’re giving good amount of effort to pull the game off.
However, let’s take a look at the trailer as it is now and let’s forget everything else.
First of all, the style is pretty damn nice, even if I’m not going to be a big fan. Visuals are filled with neon colours, even if they’re washed out and lack details. I hope both of these will be rectified later on. You got your basic peons; the afroguy, the hot chick with a whip, and so on. The car in the garage as they steal your woman is still awesome thou. Overall, the visuals hit the 80’s so well that it’s almost shameful, as Jimmy and Billy are palette swaps as are bulk of the enemies you’re going to mow down. WayForward, I know things were like this in the 80’s, but please add more enemies and make Billy and Jimmy their own characters with different models. It just looks cheap when you’ve got dozens of palette swapped hi-res 3D models doing the exact same things on the screen.
There’s also the thing that the visuals do not meet with the setting of the game. Originally, Double Dragon is set into a post-apocalyptic world, where twin brothers were sweeping the streets with their martial arts skills thought by their master. Basically, Hokuto no Ken with two Kenshiro’s, and it’s awesome. You don’t see any of this in the game and you wouldn’t know about the story behind if you didn’t read the manual… or watch the intro of Double Dragon Advance. The neon colours going on, and the overall clean 80’s doesn’t really scream post-apocalypse, but perhaps this time New York has fared much better than originally. Still, while overall visuals do their intended job, I need to ask as a fan if these are the visuals I want from my Double Dragon.
The music, while it really is the Double Dragon theme for all intents and purposes, feels rather lacking in the oomph department. Vertexguy’s take on the music is still one of the best versions out there. He has this nice striking electric guitar there, while everything seems to subdued and silent in Neon’s case. It’s not a bad piece and would be perhaps the best rearrange if it didn’t have competition. I hope DDNEon’s track will get at least same level of treatment, if not even better, as DD’s music score is up there in video game music. Before you come in and start spouting how Final Fantasy has better music I want to cram this fist into your mouth and tell you to shut up. We’ve been over this before.
The gameplay is slow, downright muddy. The original Double Dragon isn’t the most speediest game we know, but there’s no reason to speed things up here; all the later Double Dragons are faster than the original. Or it might be that I’m imagining things as PAL region does run on 50Hz as opposed to NTCS’ 60Hz. Nevertheless, the slow gameplay we have here is next to unacceptable. While in the trailers it seems that the player characters can jump, according to Parish they couldn’t in the test version. This begs the question why to showcase DDNeon at this early age at all? The game’s clearly in an early alpha build… hopefully.
I wouldn’t put my money into this game, even if I’m big on DD. However, if I know WayForward even the tiniest amount, they’ll listen to the critic given by their audience and make the game play much better. If not, then the industry’s really screwed.
If I may overanalyze Double Dragon Neon for a bit, I’d say that it is WayForward’s way to criticize the current industry as a whole. The industry has an unhealthy obsession to make all in 3D even if doesn’t add anything or doesn’t fit the game itself. The industry’s method of reskinning old games into new ones without much thinking also shines though. As of now, WayForward has just done that. There’s also the matter of being cheap. All of industry’s worst sides are shown in the trailer… and if this really is just an early alpha, what does that say of the industry at large?
Perhaps it would work for the best if WayForward had done the game in 2D. However, it might’ve been that they were given the task to do it in 3D, a choice that I don’t feel with. In most cases 3D games have been slower than 2D games, but that’s mostly dependant on the programming and game design. Double Dragon, while even originally rather slow, had fast action. The Game Boy Advance remake is still the best version out there because of this; it balanced the gameplay’s speed for the system and it was extremely enjoyable because of that. Neon looks this slow because there’s so much empty space on the screen that doesn’t have anything there. Back in the day when you got five characters on screen you had to play well and fast to survive. Nowadays five characters on screen means that you need to walk around a lot more just to punch them. What about giving more options to the players, like a dash attack or the like to speed up the gameplay? Or simply make the characters walk and punch a little bit faster?
I agree that I’m going far too much into things just based on one very early trailer, but I want to raise questions in the readers’ mind, not just on Double Dragon Neon, but on the industry at large and the quality of games we have; is the latest new game you bought worth your time and money?