I never thought all that time I spent tracing pictures when I was a kid would come in handy, but I guess Vivid Games had different plans for my faux copying skills. Neon Mania is all about tracing, and you’ll need a steady hand and quick reflexes to get the ultimate score. I’m not sure older gamers will appreciate this quite as much, but kids will love it, and there are certainly a lot of puzzles to complete to make it worth your while. Unfortunately, a lot of the images suffer from “small screen syndrome”, but overall it’s been a pleasant if not somewhat uninspiring gaming experience.
Neon Mania is currently comprised of 9 groups, each containing several images that look like neon signs gone dark. It’s your job to bring the signs “back to life” by tracing the parts of the images to light them back up. Once you start tracing a segment you must finish it, and once you’ve traced all segments you’ll get a ranking from 1 to 3 stars depending on how well you traced the image. Personally, I’m not 100% convinced the scoring is accurate, because there were times where I’d trace an image and get two stars, then trace it again thinking I did a better job and get only one star. Other times I’d stay at my current ranking even though I felt I did a much better job tracing the image the second time.
To trace the image you simply press where the flashing stars are and then trace the corresponding line to completion. For straight lines this isn’t too bad of a proposition. For curved lines, on the other hand, this task can be quite daunting, especially if the line has a lot of tightly wound curves or sharp angles. This problem is augmented for me by a combination of the small screen and my larger fingers. Kids should be fine with the game, but I think it would be a better experience for me on the iPad. The other problem I have is that sometimes there are several stars close together, and when I think I’m starting one line I’ve actually started another. I’m not sure how much of an issue this is because I don’t know what all goes into factoring the final score.
On the plus side, if you can get past all the nuances of the line drawing itself, there is plenty to do. As I mentioned in the beginning there are 9 groups of objects. The smallest group contains 21 items, and the largest holds 175! There’s also the fact that you can earn up to three stars for each object, so while you might get through a group, getting through the group with perfection is a whole other story. The game also has 16 achievements to earn and supports both Game Center and OpenFeint, so you’re covered by both the major social network players.
The graphics are pretty simple, but the objects still look really good. I don’t think there’s a lot you could do to something that should look like a neon sign to make it flashy without ruining it. The backgrounds are pretty basic as well, though the Easter image set has a couple of nice selections that it toggles between. The sound effects are okay, with a nice little ding to confirm that you’ve completed a line or a slight buzzer to let you know you’ve made a “wrong turn”. The music is nice and easy to listen to, but reminds me a little too much of elevator or lounge music.
This game was definitely made with the causal gamer in mind. Beyond that, though, there are times where it feels like an iPad game crammed onto an iPod Touch screen. Still, aside from not 100% understanding how scores are determined, I have enjoyed my time spent with Neon Mania. I think hardcore gamers will be disappointed, but everyone else should consider giving it a try. I’d especially recommend Neon Mania if you let your kids use your device on a frequent basis (or if you happen to be a kid reading this review).
Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]