WayForward, those tireless keepers of gaming’s old guard, unveiled its latest project at the beginning of April. Double Dragon Neon follows in the footsteps of the company’s work on titles like Contra 4 and A Boy and His Blob, a winking, modern take on a 1980s classic. Those games however were crafted with hand drawn two-dimensional graphics and their celebrations of the past were little more than subtle nods. This take on Technos’ long lost beat ‘em up series is quite a shift away from that ethos, an online multiplayer game with grimy polygonal 3D graphics and a brazenly satirical take on the ‘80s. Digital Trends caught up with WayForward to talk about Neon’s stylistic differences from its usual output, the studio’s relationship with Majesco, and the game’s creative roots.
“WayForward is best known for making some of the best-looking 2D and sprite-based games out there,” says Double Dragon Neon lead Sean Velasco. It’s not just a hollow boast. Even WayForward games like the now decade old Shantae for Gameboy Color feature the sort of lush animation that’s earned the studio a cult following. There’s a good reason for foregoing 2D in Neon though, according to Velasco. “Brawlers can really benefit from polygonal models. Think about things like enemy model swaps, additional costumes, and tons of combat moves with timing iteration. These things are easy in 3D because animation and models are independent. Double Dragon Neon was the perfect opportunity to perfect our 3D characters. We have worked extremely hard to capture the 2D character designs in 3D, and are still perfecting the look. The polygonal characters are buttery smooth and are animated by the same crack team that animates all of our games.”
Publisher Majesco trusts WayForward to make the best game possible as well. It was the publisher that approached WayForward with the license. “We are lucky enough to have a great relationship with Majesco, who approached us with the opportunity. We decided to bring the Neon, and we’ve been working tirelessly ever since.” Majesco published both WayForward’s A Boy and His Blob and its first HD 2D sidescroller Bloodrayne: Betrayal.
There’s more good news for Double Dragon’s aging fans. WayForward is getting help on the game from one of the series’ creators. “We’ve been collaborating with Yoshihisa Kishimoto, the creator of Double Dragon and the Kunio-Kun (River City Ransom) series. His invaluable insight has helped us keep the Double Dragon spirit intact.”
Double Dragon Neon will be available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 via Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network this summer.