Double Dragon instantly conjures the 1980s. But part of the charm of 80s media is how unaware of its own awfulness it was. Taking the 80s out of Double Dragon and doing an HD remake of it just makes it worse. Mitch Dyer at IGN felt strongly that Double Dragon: Neon was too much like playing in an arcade and not enough like playing a good game.
Remember when arcade beat-‘em-ups were deliberately too difficult so you’d pay to keep playing? How about when failure meant having to replay an entire level? It’s a good thing those days are over – and it’s too bad Double Dragon: Neon doesn’t realize it.
Much to its disadvantage, Neon never sets out to be anything other than Double Dragon. Yes, it adds new mechanics like unlockable special moves and shops for replenishing lost lives, as well as 3D characters, but at its core this is a loyal retro remake. Everything around it is superfluous because none of those features contribute anything to Neon’s benefit. There’s a laundry list of issues in Double Dragon that don’t sit well decades later, and Neon retains all of them.
Sometimes retro doesn't mean better.