New Retro Arcade: Neon mashes together a lot of genres and ideas into a very cool overall experience. This is not the deepest of games - in fact it is more of a collection of games, but as someone who grew up an arcade rat, this title is pretty solid as a non-VR experience that I enjoyed more as a virtual reality one.
The 'Neon' part of the namesake is well-earned, as this title not only reminds me of Tron aesthetically, but also recalls my younger days spent in arcades playing a variety of different games. New Retro Arcade: Neon is an interesting title because it is more platform than playtime. What I mean by that is New Retro Arcade: Neon is a framework - an environment that does come packed with a handful of games. It comes with some games, but they are pretty limited. You get some basic games like bowling, basketball, some sort of zombie shooting game - all pretty generic if entertaining enough.
However, that is just a little extra window dressing, ensuring you get some game for your buck. The true value of New Retro Arcade: Neon is in how it serves as a front end to arcade game ROMs. Now, I won't link to any ROMs, I don't generally use them a lot myself (because frankly I have a ton of old consoles around my house anyways), but there are plenty of legal ones out there (though it does require a bit of research to see what is fair game and not). You can then load these in and recreate classic arcade goodness.
This is obviously going to work best for those who have spent time with MAME over the years. Many, many moons ago I messed with some MAME emulation and saw how you could get marquees, cabinet art and more. At the time it seemed like a simple novelty - a way to glance back at that really cool Solar Warrior panel across the top and front of the cabinet. New Retro Arcade: Neon gives some organization to it all. It creates a sense of spacial representation as the front end recreates these cabinets. You will need to use a program called Arcade Builder that helps to assign / line up ROM content with cabinets.
The appeal here is obvious to old arcade fans such as myself, and if you are someone with a gaggle of ROMs this could be a really fun way to spend a weekend in setting this interface up. The biggest drawback of course is that this is not a complete experience without putting in some serious legwork. That is not a bad thing - some of the best applications out there (the RPG Maker series for example) expect you to put some effort into getting something out of the experience, but New Retro Arcade: Neon is not an out of the box deep gaming experience.
Now, to the virtual reality aspects of it - New Retro Arcade: Neon is completely playable as a 2D interface, but man the VR visuals are really slick. The included mini-games are nice enough, but really it is the overall atmosphere that greatly benefits from virtual reality. Change out posters, customize your games and music lists and more and allow virtual reality to make the experience far more immersive. Now, because I don't have Oculus Touch controllers (yet), there is no means of testing the motion controls. From what I have read, people recommend motion controls of the Vive for the mini-games and moving around the virtual arcade, and using an actual controller for the arcade cabinets. I will be very curious to see how the Touch controllers integrate when the time comes.
New Retro Arcade: Neon is a cool experience, but like any software that serves as a framework, you're going to get out of it what you put in. The interface is not terribly user-friendly and it will require some research to get the hang of customizing your own personal arcade, but the end results are pretty satisfying. If you're not comfortable with this modification aspect of the title or don't want to sink some time into it, then New Retro Arcade: Neon is probably not for you since as a plug-and-play game it is rather lacking overall.
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Article by Nick