It goes without saying that Game Development is a tricky profession to be in, especially for first timers. Granted, there are wild successes, but too many instead miss the mark. More often than not, the cause is they basically try to be and do too much, and the end result often suffers because of it. Such was the case of Ivatrixgames and its first release, the short and generic RPG, Mortal Legacies. With the studio’s second title, Arcade of Neon, complicated game systems and programming are stripped away, as is the art, really, leaving behind a game that’s quintessentially arcade (it’s in the title, ain’t it?).
As if the bare blackness of its background weren’t enough of an indicator, it’s clear that Arcade of Neon doesn’t operate with any superfluous pieces on the board. This hurts the bottom line, of course, dulling the visual attractiveness of the game to the point of absurdity. I mean, come on, it’s all circles. Taken with the type of gameplay represented, however, it makes sense and turns out to be less severe than it could have been.
The game, and it miscellany of modes, is basically about color matching and twitch controls, steering into or away from trouble (depending on the mode), or switching your color with the face buttons to capture similarly-scribbled circles (again, dependent on game type). Instructions are given, but the gist is this: sometimes you’ll alter the colors on your own, sometimes you’ll need to earn a color change, and sometimes the decision will be made for you. Naturally, the speed of the game and the frequency of certain colors will change as you go along. The goal in each setting, though, is strictly black-and-white— get a high score.
In doing so, you’ll complete items from a checklist of ‘challenges’, which in turn opens up new minigames that alter the way it plays or try for something a bit… different, including a color-swapping, incredibly boring version of Pong that’s impossible to win or lose unless you do so deliberately. Some of the modes’ objectives can bleed into each other, making one game seem indistinguishable from the other, though each is fun in its own way (likely in five to ten minute blocks of amusement).
After you’ve unlocked all the modes, however, you’re really left with nothing to play towards. Online, P2P score-keeping would help greatly in that respect, but even the lack of a true offline leaderboard (just one catch-all solution for every mode) negates some of its staying power. It may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, but when you’ve focused on high scores as your main draw, the absence of accompanying leaderboards is more glaring.
Arcade of Neon is undeniably a more comfortable and confident title than Mortal Legacies, one that’s suited to the developer’s talents and offers a more engaging experience overall. That said, its bare assets and similar modes / styles do little to set it apart from other arcade releases that follow the same format. Worth a look to see what sticks for you, but don’t expect much of anything new or lasting.