Despite my overall indifference to the number of television shows and movies finding their inspiration in entertainment from the ’80s, I’ll never grow tired of the neon laser art direction that broke big during the decade. Give me some Broadway D typeface in neon pink, a solid white Italian blazer with no vent, and polarized sport sunglasses and I’m in heaven.
That Miami Vice meets Tron chic just can’t be beaten and every time I see the glow of the channel lettering at the check-cashing shop downtown, I can’t help but wonder why Ubisoft hasn’t ported Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon to Switch. The aesthetic is killer and it’s what you’ll see in the two games featured in this week’s Mobile Monday.
Missile Command: Recharged
Developer: Nickervision Studios
Available On: Android, iOS
Back in ’07, developers at Bandai Namco Games had a brilliant idea on how to revive Pac-Man for modern audiences. Where others went to laughably extreme lengths to make their decades-old franchises seem cool, Toru Iwatani and Tadashi Iguchi embraced the timeless simplicity of the arcade original and spruced it up with an art direction that felt as though it was conceived on the neon-soaked floors of an ’80s arcade. The result was Pac-Man Championship Edition and its success kicked off a string of retro-revivals that included the excellent Space Invaders Extreme and the less successful Frogger: Hyper Arcade Edition. Now, it’s Missile Command‘s turn.
Missile Command: Recharged embraces its arcade roots with fast-paced, touch-based gameplay that introduces small but meaningful additions to the classic gameplay formula. You still control three missile silos shooting down rockets before they can destroy six cities. If all the cities are wiped, it’s game over. To take the rockets out, you simply need to touch the screen and the nearest missile silo will shoot in that direction. Once the missile hits the spot you touched, it will explode taking out any rockets that cross the expanding and contracting blast radius. Each missile silo has a brief cool down and the longer you last, the faster and more numerous the rockets become.
The points you gain with each run can be spent on upgrades such as faster missiles and larger blast radii. As you protect your cities, power-ups will fly across the screen that can grant you temporary shields, faster firing, or a quick detonation of every rocket on the screen. It all makes for a wonderfully brisk arcade experience and acts as a template for how other retro arcade games should pursue a rebirth on mobile. I’m looking at you, rights holder to Spy Hunter.
I have a certain affinity for Missile Command as growing up, one of my uncles actually owned an original arcade cabinet for it, and every time I visited him, I wound up spending several hours trying to beat his high scores. I never could, but that really didn’t matter. All I cared about was the fact I was playing an arcade cabinet in his house. Those memories came flooding back when I tested Recharged‘s AR mode which lets you play the game on an arcade cabinet just like my uncle used to own. It’s still completely touch-based but hot damn is it nostalgic.
Missile Command: Recharged is free-to-play and will be available for download on March 26. The game is supported by ads which can be removed for $2.99.
Available On: Android (Early Access)
Let’s keep the neon retro aesthetic going with Neon Soldier, an Early Access title currently available on the Android platform. The best way to describe the game is as a stop’n’gun. You control the soldier, ugly as he may be, as he runs through a randomly generated, neon framework trail of ever-increasing challenges. The soldier only shoots when he’s not moving, so success comes down to how well you can dodge projectiles coming your way.
There is a nice difficulty progression in play here and as you complete run after run, you’ll unlock tokens you can use to upgrade your skills. These skills are unlocked at random and can do anything from increasing the rate at which you regenerate health to increasing your attack speed. You’ll also earn temporary skills each time you level up during a run. If you have the chance to get ricocheting bullets and the spread shot, I suggest you take it. There are loot boxes in the game, purchasable with gold you earn through gameplay or by ponying up some cash. These loot boxes hold gear for your soldier — guns, armor, accessories — that can be upgraded and improved. Each run will also cost energy that takes some time to reload.
It’s not a groundbreaking mobile game or one that ranks among the best on the platform, but Neon Soldier has a nice throwback quality to make it at least worth a download for those times when you need a nice distraction. With a full release, hopefully, we can lose the energy meter and make loot box drops a bit more frequent.
Neon Soldier is free-to-play with in-app purchases and ads.
(Premium priced games featured in Mobile Monday were provided by the developer. Free-to-play games were downloaded directly from the App Store or Google Play.)