Even though it had a decidedly retro style, there was something about Geometry Wars that screamed "futuristic" the first time I saw it. It was the way the game moved and the utter chaos that followed me every second I was alive. I sat there glued to the screen; unable to tear my eyes away from the ballet of lights and colors. I wondered if the next generation of game was an era full of cheap games, simple concepts and neon graphics.
As it turns out, I was only half right. While this generation has offered gamers a lot of simple concepts at affordable prices, I can't help but notice the lack of neon. With the exception of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
and last year's Double Dragon
game, we haven't seen much neon on the Xbox 360. This needs to change immediately. I say 2013 should be the year of neon, and we can start celebrating with Arcade of Neon from Ivatrixgames.
This dirt-cheap Xbox Live Indie Game has a fairly straight forward concept. You play as a color-changing ring in a world where other rings are being flung at you. Your job is to run into each colored ring to make it disappear from the board. But you can't just run into any color, you can only eliminate the rings that share your color. That means that you'll need to use the Xbox 360's four face buttons to change between red, green, blue and orange.
This is easier said than done. When it comes to the four face buttons, I have the letters memorized and ready to press on a moment's notice. But that's only because I've experience too many quick-time events. I quickly discovered that I'm painfully inept at switching between the colors based on touch. I kept having to look down or fumble my way through. The good news is that I quickly adjusted. And after fifteen minutes, I was switching between colors and racking huge combos up like it was all second nature.
The game starts out with the basic Normal mode, which gives players three lives and no time limit. However, it won't take long to earn more modes. A few of the best include Countdown (a hectic mode with a timer), Hunted (where you try to outrun the ensuing enemies), Bounce (which resembles Pong) and Unique (where you try to avoid everything). Unfortunately, not every mode hits the spot. Star Shifter, for one, takes the color shifting out of your hands for disastrous results. Fixed is another miss, as you spend the whole time waiting for something exciting to happen.
Arcade of Neon starts out slow and simple, but it quickly ramps up the difficulty with faster and more abundant enemies. Even though some game types are better than others, the thrill comes from playing each mode long enough to gain a respectable high score. Sadly, that is not possible in Arcade of Neon. There is only one single high score across all ten modes. This means that certain lower scoring modes (like Unique) are off limits for players looking to beat a friend's high score. This is a disappointing decision that ultimately hurts an otherwise solid product.
Arcade of Neon is full of good ideas that are in serious need of fleshing out. Simply fixing the leaderboard and adding D-pad support would go a long way to making this first game of 2013 a must-buy.