PN Review: Neon Battle
This new pong variant form Helix Games looks to entice Wii U gamers with its budget $1.49 price. Much like the company’s prior Wii U release however (Don’t Touch Anything Red) this game fails to offer much for the solo player. Are the multiplayer modes enough to make Neon Battle a download worth considering?
Much like Pong, you take control of a paddle and attempt to knock the ball past your opponent. The major difference is that playfield is circular, allowing you to traverse the entire perimeter. You can also try to knock your opponents paddle out of the way like a bumper car. Powerups (though limited and just in certain modes) further alter the formula. The game supports the GamePad, Pro controller, and Wiimote, and the choices are appreciated. The controls might take some getting used to if you aren’t familiar with early arcade games (think inverted trackball) but the game is so easy is doesn’t particularly matter.
In the solo mode you can play alone or against the computer. When playing alone the challenge is nonexistent. You get a point for every time you hit the ball and that’s all. No penalty for missing, no timer, etc. You could lay the GamePad down walk away and still win. There’s absolutely no point. The cpu meanwhile is sporadically aggressive, but you should have little trouble defeating them over and over again by sizable amounts. I normally don’t mind easy games, but this is too much. Options to increase the challenge would’ve gone a long way.
Multiplayer is much more enjoyable, though limited to just two players local. I wonder how much better things would’ve been with four paddles on the screen? This is the one area where this game takes a small step backwards from Helix’s prior release, which supported up to five players.
Neon is seen via the paddles and player indicators, providing minor splashes of color. Otherwise this presentation is spartan to a fault with just a white circle on a black screen. It’s such a shame to see the Neon so underutilized. The musical tracks fare much, much better. The techno chiptune compositions from Kubbi are great! If you like that style as I do you’ll find them the best part of the game. The only letdown are occasions when the next track won’t load. Playing in silence is no fun.
Putting a twist on a proven premise isn’t always enough, as Neon Battle proves. There was much potential, but the finished product seems to reflect mainly the essentials with little else. The solo modes have scant merit, and the visuals seem to have received only token attention. While multiplayer was decent, it doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from a slew of other multiplayer Wii U games. Neon Battle is an inexpensive, but average at best eShop game.