In this paper, a suite of adaptive neural network (NN) controllers is designed to deliver a desired tracking performance for the control of an unknown, second-order, nonlinear discrete-time system expressed in nonstrict feedback form. In the first approach, two feedforward NNs are employed in the controller with tracking error as the feedback variable whereas in the adaptive critic NN architecture, three feedforward NNs are used. In the adaptive critic architecture, two action NNs produce virtual and actual control inputs, respectively, whereas the third critic NN approximates certain strategic utility function and its output is employed for tuning action NN weights in order to attain the near-optimal control action. Both the NN control methods present a well-defined controller design and the noncausal problem in discrete-time backstepping design is avoided via NN approximation. A comparison between the controller methodologies is highlighted. The stability analysis of the closed-loop control schemes is demonstrated. The NN controller schemes do not require an offline learning phase and the NN weights can be initialized at zero or random. Results show that the performance of the proposed controller schemes is highly satisfactory while meeting the closed-loop stability.