Game Review #507: Neon City Riders (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Mat Benson
Developer: Mecha Studios
Category: Action, Arcade, Adventure
Release Date: 3.12.2020
Watch the Trailer
Buy Neon City Riders from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Neon City Riders is a blast through nostalgia. It has everything you want from the 1980’s; the music, the visual style, and even the game play. However, the game itself is set in the distant dystopian future year of 2075. In this cyberpunk world you start off playing as Rick, the super powered boy who has come to save Neon City from the 4 super powerful gangs that have divided the people and caused chaos throughout their respective territories. The game itself takes place in these 4 different turfs, with Neon City being the only safe haven for them to interact, as well as a safe place for the Neon City Riders' secret base.
Gangs of Neon City
There is a lot packed into this game. The lore is extensive, and there are different costumes, quests, achievements, and even endings that you can unlock. The game takes you throughout the history of how this world came to be, as well as how the gangs got their start. Each gang is unique, consisting of retro music loving punks, robots, mutants, and “undead” robotically enhanced people. I love the styles they went with for each gang to really give the characters heavy personality. First off you have the Audiobats who love all things retro, especially the music. Then there are the Rusty Eagle Warlords, a gang consisting of only robots who distrust humans ever since they first rebelled. Then there is the mutant gang called the Mutant Scale Brotherhood, who are cast into the sewers and despise all humans. Finally, you have the Undead Laser Ravens, who are heavily into science and the mystical arts with their psychic powers. All 4 of these gangs are each unique in design, and I personally think that they really bring across the major differences in the NPCs - as well as give the game a lot of flavor - to bring home that futuristic cyberpunk world.
Neon City Collectors
It is said to run you about 15 hours to complete this massive game but let me tell you, it could easily be doubled by taking your time, as well as because of the difficulty. Not only that, but there are a lot of optional activities throughout. You can unlock the ability to get different costumes, all of which are unique and carefully crafted; however, it isn’t as simple as buying them. You have to go and find the sewing patterns hidden throughout the game to trade in for them. In that same regard, you can also collect other parts to make drones that will help you out, but you have to find the person to make said drones, which is a quest in and of itself. Not only that, but there are also many other items to collect and trade to complete the various quest lines.
80’s to the Core
I personally enjoyed a lot about this game. The visual style is fantastic, with the character designs of the bosses as well as the amazing and clean design of their territories. The music does exactly what it sets out to do. It brings you back to the 80’s style of retro games, from which Neon City Riders draws a heavy inspiration. Together the music and visual style really deliver on keeping the theme of a cyberpunk dystopian world that was heavily influenced by 80’s pop culture.
Arcade Style Difficulty
The one major problem I had with this game had to be the difficulty. Neon City Riders does have some stuff in-game that helps to ease the difficulty of figuring out certain points of where to go. It has a telephone you can buy hints from for 50 coins, and it has an NPC in Neon City that will activate a marker system to point out important NPCs to talk to for side quests. Without using these two assists, the game would be even harder, and I appreciate the developers having some mercy in that regard. Although they throw you this bone, it is the only help you get, with the actual difficulty of the game being astronomically hardcore. The enemies are tough to handle, with 4 mini bosses who are each challenging in different ways. Finally the 4 gang leaders, who are the 4 main bosses, are also incredibly hard, with their own unique abilities. It has the same difficulty feeling as games like Dark Souls, Nioh 2, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The only ray of hope is unlocking your 4 abilities, because without them these battles are grueling and sometimes feel completely unfair. This reminds me of older classic games, where the arcade games were meant to be extremely tough to eat as many quarters as possible.
One thing I believe to be important about the game is when you start you are in a virtual reality training simulator where Evergray, your buddy, and somewhat master, is showing you how to use your 4 special abilities. However, right after he shows you how to use them, your powers are taken from you and you start the real game without them, having to defeat the 4 mini bosses in order to get them back. I think it’s important to know of these abilities, because without that knowledge, you would get stuck without knowing how to progress any further. This is very important because throughout the game you are free to roam and explore the city and 4 surrounding territories. The NPCs throughout Neon City are constantly talking about the importance of exploration in this game. In order to complete this game, you will have to explore everything - and I mean EVERYTHING! To make any progress, you will find yourself bouncing between the 4 different gang territories in order to get just one small step further.
Wrap up Time
All in all, this game is awesome. The difficulty will definitely be something that prevents many who play this game from beating it. I personally found myself getting overwhelmed by some of the road blocks, overly hard puzzles, and enemies, to the point where I felt that I could only play the game for about an hour or two at a time. The thing that kept me coming back was definitely attempting to rise to the challenge to overcome these difficulties, as well as my enjoyment of the overall game itself. The music, visual style, and lore, as well as figuring out the complex quests kept me coming back to try and power through Neon City Riders.
Buy Neon City Riders from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*A game code was provided for review purposes.