I’m a sucker for anything neon and 80s, so it goes without saying that I installed Neo:Ball as soon as I saw its game page. Only available for Android for now (iOS coming in November), this fun arcade game draws its influences from 80s synth-wave music and visuals, all wrapped up as a 1v1 footie game.
In fact, my first thought after seeing the game’s lobby screen was that this is a beautiful homage to Tron, the 80s movie, and video game franchises that I loved as a kid. Neo:Ball also reminds me of Geometry wars: Retro Evolved a game that we used to play on Xbox360 around 2005 – still a great game to check out if you’ve never played it.
The game is essentially a 1v1 vehicular soccer game in which you navigate your bumper car around your opponent to get the ball into your goal.
There are various play arenas that you can unlock and numerous modifications you can make to your bumper car. You can also unlock special perks which you can stack to give you some strategic capability based on your preferred play style.
As a vertically orientated game, with your left and right buttons situated on the bottom end of the screen, there is not much to your object other than grab your power-ups, bash into your opponent and score those goals.
Each game lasts around 1 minute and you are matched with players from around the world. I would assume they throw-in a few bots when players are low but I only noticed “bot-play” during the first few tutorial games.
There are pre-selected messages players can use to communicate including the faithful old “$&#@!” as an indication that you did not take well to the loss.
The synth wave music and vibration response that the game delivers, also offer a very immersive experience if you play with headphones on and when things get competitive, the music certainly adds to the action.
To play an Arena you need to pay with gold before each game. Gold can be unlocked for free by watching ads or winning games. The Grid is the first arena you can play and it will cost 100 gold to play, if you win, you earn 200 gold. From there the costs and rewards go up.
Along with each round’s win, you also get rewarded with packs, much like the foil-wrapped collectible cards you can buy. There are three categories of cards you can collect; Common, Rare, and Epic. Withing each pack you’ll find gold, XP points, perks, and upgrades for your bumper card that also range in exclusivity depending on the pack.
I love the process of unlocking and revealing each reward, Wonder games have done a great job here to give this game a classic yet premium feel.
As far as microtransactions go, I appreciate how Neo:Ball does things and while it is geared to making you spend money, you do not need to if you can resist the urge. The main reason why you would want to spend money is to speed up the unlock time of your reward packs. You only have 5 card storage packs in your inventory so you cannot earn more once those slots are full. If you want to open a pack you can pay with gems to open them immediately or do a free unlock by waiting out the time period. For Rare cards, this is 6 hours. To open this pack immediately you’ll need to spend 5 gems. To buy gems in their store will cost you R8 for 30 gems. You also use gems to buy gold if you want to play in Arenas.
If we did awards, this game would be a winner.
It has been a long while since I shouted at my phone when I lost a match but Neo:Ball knows how to get my competitive side going. It’s a fun game that is interesting because the bumper cars that respond as you’d expect, a little sluggish, so you’ll need to focus on movement with just two buttons.
A cool feature to make up for the fact that you cannot get around very fast is that each goal is also a portal through which you can travel. Entering one will make you pop out at the other end of the arena. It’s a very handy trick to defend a goal if you are on the opposite end and this is what makes this game work so well as a 1v1.
I also loved the fact that you can share or download your winning goals in a short video clip. It makes rubbing-in a win so much sweeter when you can share the humiliation.
There is a daily leader board in which gamers participate and you can enter the hosted tournaments that will earn you some more in-game loot. It’s been a few hours of gaming now and I love that I can play quick games in between work or while making coffee.
For fun, quick, and often heated games, Neo:Ball is a game that almost everyone will enjoy. The graphics are well thought out and the sounds are a great throwback to arcade gaming. If we did awards, this game would be a winner. — © 2020 MBLGMR
You’ll find Neo:Ball on the Google Play Store (iOS coming in November)