Thank you so much to Fraoula for providing a review code
Neon Drive is an 80’s inspired rhythm game that sees you moving your car from side to side dodging panels as you progress down a highway that is constantly changing in front of you. These tiles act as the notes for the game’s 8 different songs.
Your reflexes better be on point, because if you take more than two hits you’re sent straight back to beginning unless you made it to a checkpoint. There are 8 arcade cabinets to chose from each having their own song, car as well as a unique twist, such as turning into a fighter jet or even a robot.
Let It Shine!
What stands out the most in Neon Drive is its beautiful neon lightscape that looks great in handheld mode and even better on the big screen. It’s the neon graphics that steal the show here and make Neon Drive quite the visual spectacle. The visuals are especially impressive during the transition in each song where your car transforms. As the transformation occurs the song picks up its tempo and the game looks downright beautiful.
Neon Drive’s songs are all fantastic and form together to create what is a truly memorable soundtrack. Their tempo and beat stay constant making each song relatively simple to follow along with.
Unfortunately, 8 song isn’t a lot of content especially when considering other rhythm game’s on the Switch like Lyrica and VOEZ that have more than 50+ tracks to play with. This means if you’re not taken with a song and you don’t enjoy replaying songs on higher difficulties, there isn’t all that much to do in Neon Drive.
Besides Neon Drive’s 8 main songs, there’s one other mode called Endurance mode in which you must stay alive for as long as possible with one life. That’s right, that means all it takes is one death and it’s game over.
The issue with Endurance mode is that it’s not very engaging due to the lack of online leaderboards to compare scores/times with others. Playing to improve your high-score is rendered pointless as you’ll have no one to compare it with unless you search for people to compare with. It’s sad because Endurance could have been really enjoyable, but the lack of online leaderboards was an unfortunate omission.
One thing that really boils my blood is a game that asks too much from the player too soon. Neon Drive’s first song starts you off pretty easy with a few checkpoints scattered in for good measure.
After the first song, however, Neon Drive tosses you in the deep end and expects you to perform flawlessly. The game’s difficulty ramps up significantly and does it so suddenly. What I found really annoying about this was that so-called practice mode is locked as well as a free-run mode, meaning you have to complete a certain percentage of the level to unlock them. Practice mode is unlocked for completing the previous level on the normal difficulty. I felt like these modes would have been better to have at the beginning to practice with before you started the actual song itself.
There’s no gradual difficulty here and it all ramps up at once. I love rhythm games, but usually, there’s a much easier difficulty option you can pick for those who are trying to get used to what the game has to offer. This heavy difficulty spike means that many players who are new or casual players of the genre won’t have an easy time experiencing every aspect of the game.
One of Neon Drive’s best aspects was its cool transitions during each song. One minute you’re driving down a highway and the next you’re looking down at your car from a birds-eye-view. Another level sees you driving towards a huge star and the next minute your car has transformed into a jet and is flying through the air. It’s these moments that provide a little extra twist to gameplay.
Completing each arcade cabinet and getting 100% completion will unlock two extra difficulty settings as well as a practice mode and free-run option.
I wish there were more extras to get excited about, but Neon Drive doesn’t offer anything else except for added difficulty modes. A music player or gallery would have been a nice addition for completing the game.
From a presentation’s standpoint, Neon Drive checks all the right boxes. The neon visual design is absolutely gorgeous and is accompanied by a stellar soundtrack. Sadly, the core gameplay is frustrating and isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Neon Drive is certainly an example of style over substance.
There are people who love a challenge, but a game’s difficulty should rise gradually, not with one large spike. Furthermore, if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy replaying every song on a harder difficulty then Neon Drive’s 8 songs won’t hold your interest for long. Neon Drive isn’t a bad game, but there are design choices that hold it back from being a top contender for your rhythm game library.