The Double Downloadable Double Dragons’ Double Trouble
Fact: People love them some brawlers, especially classic ones like Double Dragon. Problem is, remaking classic beat ’em ups has never worked. Ever. Not because the games are bad but because people are often so attached to the classics that even the slightest change can cause them to burst into uncontrollable rage.
Enter Double Dragon, one of the original beat ’em ups and the series that made the genre such a smash hit. It’s receiving not one but two 3D downloadable remakes! One is Korean developer Baurunsoft Interactive’s “Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons” while the other is WayForward Interactive’s “Double Dragon Neon”. Both, however, have caused less than stellar reactions.
Early reports on these games have claimed they are anywhere from “bad” to just “bland”. However, the Brawler is a sorely misunderstood genre. Few people, both players and developers, realize that there can be more to a beat ’em up than just mashing punch. Special moves, juggle combos, and more are perfectly possible in a game like this, but few people realize it. When a developer fails to realize this and just makes their brawler yet another button masher, it continues to drag the genre down. But, when players fail to recognize potential depth when it’s there, then they often condemn an otherwise spectacular game.
So let us take a closer look at what is seen in these videos.
With Wander of the Dragons you can see it has 8-way running, which in the realm of the beat ’em up is not a good thing. However it also proudly displays text declaring “Perfect Guard”, “Blow Back”, and “Double St”. If you look closer you’ll see a diving kick move as well that definitely looks like a special attack. So there may just be some meat to this game afterall!
Unfortunately, while the game was finished and playable on reviewer consoles, Wander of the Dragons is probably cancelled. It has been removed from the developer console’s marketplace and the company appears to have gone under. A darn shame as I really would have liked to at least try it.
Double Dragon Neon, however, looks far from bad when inspected closely as well. The trailer shows a ground punch, money flying out of defeated enemies, and what appears to be a juggle combo between the two players. Interviews mention that WayForward (a developer I’m honestly quite a fan of) recognizes that Castle Crashers is the “Gold Standard” of modern beat ’em ups and is trying to reach a happy medium between it and the original Double Dragon. I’d argue that Castle Crashers, while very good, is far from the “best” beat ’em up; it’s good to see that WayForward knows what they’re up against. They are honestly trying to make a modern beat ’em up and appear to recognize that mindless button mashing will not suffice. In an interview they mention the “Mixtape” feature, wherein you can buy new attacks and equip them to your “Mixtape”. There was also some mention of switching mixtapes on the fly so it could be that the mixtape represents your custom combo (akin to God Hand) and you can switch between combos on the fly. Or it could just mean you can only have so many moves equipped at a time (as otherwise things would get messy). Regardless, this once again implies a greater degree of depth than normally seen.
Either way, I look forward to playing whatever of these games manage to come out and whenever said games manage to come out. Because, let me tell you right now, I love me a good beat ’em up. Especially when they go a step beyond what we normally see.