Hey Yoshihisa Kishimoto, creator of Double Dragon.
Yeah, you. I think. Can we have a talk? In a recent, highly recommended interview with professional Serious Video Game Bloggers The Verge you made the following comment which I'm about to blow way out of proportion for the sake of having an intro for this week's WAW:
Well, the genre has expanded," he says. "There are 10,000 fighting games released every year, but they're all based on the mechanics I created. The systems and hardware have improved drastically, and I haven't kept up with all of them, but in terms of fundamental game mechanics, I still think I'm the best."
Look, I don’t have any beef with you-- I mean you created both Road Blasters and WWF WrestleFest, so your impact upon culture is both significant and beautiful, but I have to take issue with this statement.
Admittedly I never played a ton of Double Dragon in the arcades-- I was more of a Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja guy, but it seemed like most of Double Dragon revolved around walking up to mooks (and the occasional dominatrix) and hitting the punch button until they fell down.
Now, I’m not deriding that gameplay model, in fact some of the best games ever made have been some sort of refinement upon punching people until they blink out of existence, including the finest action game ever made, Bayonetta. But there’s a couple issues here, the most glaring of which being that Kung Fu Master existed 3 years earlier. Admittedly Kung Fu Master was simple, with no real way to differentiate between attacks other than punching people in the chest or kicking them in the shins.
But the question of complexity brings about another great big glaring problem for your legacy: You see, 1987, the year that Double Dragon was released, also saw the release of what was actually the world’s first real fighting game
Interestingly, both Kung Fu Master and the original Street Fighter were directed by the same guy, Takashi Nishiyama- So if anyone really deserves to be credited with creating the groundwork for the fighting game genre, it’s that guy. Not you!
It’s more correct to say that you’re the father of the side-scrolling brawler, and that in itself is a fine legacy. Let’s just hope Double Dragon Neon doesn’t ruin that.
Double Dragon: Neon
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
The more I read about Double Dragon Neon, the more it reminds me of the gnawing terror I felt as I learned more of Ridley Scott's giant "fuck you" to the Alien franchise, Promethus. Initial elation (Fuck yes, a Double Dragon remake by WayForward!), leading to growing concern (Oh, it’s not sprites, it’s... 2.5 polys. Despite being on XBLA. And this being, you know, effing WayForward) to a feeling of impending doom (Oh you say people at Pax East actually threw rotting vegetables at the booth? That’s troubling) leading up to the moment that Logan Marshall-Green peels off his helmet on the surface of an alien planet and convinces his friends to do the same.
Tortured analogies aside, this is the sort of game I badly, badly want to be good despite all evidence to the contrary. I have an awful track record at that sort of thing: See Red Ninja, Mirror’s Edge, Velvet Assassin, Mass Effect 3 and Brutal Legend.
It is hard to tell where a game like Double Dragon Neon falls into the WayForward Quality Rubric, a new, wholly arbitrary formula I’ve devised to tell if I should interested in a given WayForward Technologies game;:
*If the game is a handheld game tied into a movie release: Pretend it doesn’t exit. This is just WayForward paying the bills so they can work on more Shantae games. Examples: Godzilla Domination, Justice League Heroes, anything involving the words "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" or "Spongebob Squareants"
*If the game is a new, original WayForward game or a continuation of an existing Wayforward franchise: Buy immediately! Examples include: Shantae, Risky's Revenge and Mighty Switch Force.
*If the game is Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!: Pre-order! Examples include Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage, as well as Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbag?!
The problem here is that Double Dragon Neon falls into a fifth, difficult to predict category:
*Is the game part of another gaming franchise that WayForward has somehow stumbled upon the rights to?
Sometimes this works: Contra 4 on the DS was amazing. Sometimes it’s utter dreck, such as Centipede: Infestation. Sometimes it absolutely should have worked and you just feel embittered at WayForward for bungling a perfect premise. We call this game “Bloodrayne Betrayal”. Then there’s Silent Hill: Book of Memories which is coming out in October: Which will top out at not awful but could actually be the game that causes gamers to turn on Wayforward like a pack of angry chimps driving a diseased member of the community out of the forest before they can do any more harm.
Double Dragon Neon should be fine. I not like it is terribly difficult to make a quality 2d beat ‘em up. Remember that Ubisoft Montreal never produced a 2d brawler before Scott Pilgrim Vs the World, and that thing turned out to be an classic simply by remaking River City Ransom using Paul Robertson’s artwork.
NBA Baller Beats
Developer: HB Studios
When I first heard about this I assumed it was a budget Majesco Kinect basketball game with a pack-in basketball to justify a $40, and that made sense in a way. A free basketball, it gives Kinect owners something to do and over the past two years the NBA video game market has consisted of NBA 2k12 and... NBA 2k11.
Well that’s not what we’re getting. This is a rhythm game based on dribbling. No. Really.
Majesco could not have made me hate this game more without devoting a percentage of all sales to Answers in Genesis.
And you know what? Watch this stupid thing sell a million copies and effectively end the industry. Rhythm games didn’t kill gaming, waggle didn’t kill gaming, but waggle+props+Skrillex threaten the very fabric of everything we hold dear: Gaming. Bass drops in movie trailers.... well basically just gaming and bass drops in movie trailers but I’m not sure what would be the point of living without those two things.
Developer: Electronic Arts (Kate Beaton Joke Here)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Strike year sports games are depressing in that you don’t want to be reminded that your favored sport is currently being held ransom by wealthy old men, but you also know in the back of your mind that this may be all the hockey you’re going to get for the entire year.
I’m not versed on the NHL labor dispute as much as I should be, but apparently league owners want to remove arbitration rights from players and slash salaries across the board-- which would be a pretty devastating blow to players considering the league made a record amount of money last year. But it also means the players are kinda fucked as owners have shown willingness to skip an entire year. Meanwhile it’s apparently utterly impossible to run an NHL franchise at a loss even when playing in illogical locales such as deserts, or Raleigh, North Carolina.
So if you’re a hockey fan, you sorta have to buy this, as you’re likely boned for the year. I just wish I could tell you more about this year’s version because man, fuck hockey.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
While Capcom spent the better part of a decade looking for excuses not to ever release a new Street Fighter game, Namco never really stopped making fighters. On one hand keeping the flame alive through Oughts was commendable, on the other it seems weird that Namco hasn’t noticed that people stopped caring about Tekken.
I have some friends on the Twitter that are going to hate me for saying this, but Tekken 3 was all the Tekken I think the world really needed. Tekken to me is always going to be amazing CGI PS1 ending cinematics, Paul fighting a revenge-seeking grizzly bear, Bryan Fury ripping the top half off of a tank and then using it as a baseball bat against the bottom half of same tank, and endless procession of Mishima sons thrown into volcanoes, 10 hit string combos and the brutal unfairness of Eddie Goro.
And despite all this undeniable character, it seemed like Tekken never found a niche other than Virtua Fighter’s goofy 3d rival and that was fine, but I would have much rather that rival been recognized as the Dead or Alive series. Also any time Namco releases a Tekken it means they haven’t instead been working on a new Soul Calibur, and let’s face fact: Regardless of where you stand on the Virtua Fighter/Tekken divide, you’d rather actually be playing Soul Calibur. It’s a shame that Death By Degrees was a complete flop, as a series of action games based around Tekken characters is way more interesting than any new Tekken game could hope to be. Sadly the world will never know of the time travelling adventures of Robot History Ninja Yoshimitsu.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is an exercise in glorious excess, featuring 50 fighters and a whole slew of tag attacks-- and the online mode is apparently quite well done, despite all logic.
Can we all just pretend that BORDERLANDS 2 will be released 9 months from now during the Steam Summer Sale for $40? Can we make that happen?
TORCHLIGHT 2 is here, just in time to catch all the people disgusted with Diablo III oh who am I kidding this was a disaster and they should have just waited another year
WHATEVER SCREW THAT NOISE JET GRIND RADIO IS COMING OUT ON XBLA AND I WILL MURDER YOU IN YOUR VERY HOMES IF YOU DO NOT OWN IT