Even when I was a young child, I knew that I loved the 1980s. At the time, I was convinced that this affection came from games, since The Eighties gave birth to the gaming culture that drove my passion and fueled my imagination. Now that I’m older, I know it’s even more than that. The Eighties was a going away party for a disconnected culture, a rocking decade where people weren’t inhibited and any ridiculous idea could wind up on screens nationwide. The music promised a robotic takeover with its synth beats, our pop stars stopped requiring talent to succeed, and the corporations hadn’t figured out how gullible we all were. That culture is a place of comfort, and while Americans have mostly had their fill of innocent nostalgia for the radical age, Europeans have seemingly just discovered the wonders of neon colors and jean jackets.
There have been many examples this year of amazing Eighties inspired works. These range from Kung Fury and its amazing theme song to the number of driving games inspired by the synthwave ascetic and the iconic cars of the era. Titles like Drive Any Track, Night Shift, and Drift Stage take inspiration from this style, but Neon Drive is one of the games that fully embraces that Eighties mindset. A runner game, Neon Drive allows you to speed through the endless purple grid that is intimately familiar to anyone to living under the neon lights, and includes a few twists and turns that really solidify it as an interactive tribute to a past era.
The style of the game is certainly its selling point, especially with the graphical update the game received as it was ported from its previous home on iOS. Each level takes up a different theme, including clear references to Blade Runner and Tron throughout. In fact, this may be a game that can beat TRON RUN/r to the punch considering that game’s extremely early state and similar genre trappings. Each level is also tuned precisely to its musical backing, meaning that every turn and obstacle will sync up with the music and allow players to zone out throughout their journey.
There are a few concerns regarding value and length, as there are only seven tracks in the game and replay value might not be there for some. I would go out on a limb and say that it works to the game’s advantage if the price is right, as it fits in with the vibe that the developers are going for. Similar to a lot of Eighties culture, Neon Drive has no delusion of greatness. It’s not a symphony, it’s a music video, filled with style and an undeniable cool energy to take players through what it has to offer. It’s genuine in its goals, as well as easy to expand should the game sell well.
If nothing else, Neon Drive brings us a teaser of what is still to come. There are several arcade racers coming down the pipe as we head into 2016, and many of them have the same stylistic trappings as this game. They all tap into that era and that music that truly complement the sense of speed and motion that only this genre can provide. Let this be the appetizer to a glorious main course of tight turns, mechanical beats, and hot pink lightning flashing across the sky.
What do you think of Neon Drive? Are you ready and waiting for the next wave of arcade racers currently under development? Sound off in the comments below! Or, if you know of another game languishing in Steam Greenlight, feel free to send us a heads up at [email protected] , and we’ll consider featuring the game on a future edition of To The Green!
Full Disclosure: The author of this article backed Drift Stage on Kickstarter for $10.