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New Retro Arcade: Neon Impressions - A Master of Atmosphere

Growing up in the 90s, I wasn’t really around for the golden age of the arcade machine, so the huge sense of nostalgia that New Retro Arcade brings to the table just isn’t something that just completely overwhelms me. I’ve had some experience with arcade environments, however, and I was intrigued to see just how well New Retro Arcade: Neon would stand up to what I had seen before. What I got was a jumbled mess of broken controls, and a sour taste in my mouth.

New Retro Arcade: Neon, which now offers full touch controls, is the most recent iteration of Digital Cybercherries’ attempt at bringing the arcade back to life. Many others have stated that it feels just like an 80s arcade, and while that may be true as far as the environment and atmosphere go, that doesn’t stop the experience from being a buggy mess when trying to use the HTC Vive’s motion controllers, which is one of the biggest selling points of the new version. Throughout several hours with the game I struggled with issues like, spawning halfway in the floor, the game freezing constantly and crashing my computer, as well as tons of issues using the HTC Vive’s motion controllers to play the arcade cabinets featured in the game.

Of course, there are a few pros to the experience, and Digital Cybercherries has done a really great job bringing the feeling of the arcade back to life. That, however, doesn’t excuse the fact that games like Raw Data, which are still in Early Access, offer a lot more polish than this fully fledged release. The issue at hand here isn't a question of how hard the developers worked on this. The amount of work they put into the project is outstanding, and clearly visible as you make your way through the arcade, looking at all the machines and cabinets scattered around. But at this moment in time, New Retro Arcade: Neon feels more like an early access title than a fully fleshed release, which is really disappointing.

The custom mini games the developers created for the project, like Aimbot and Zombie Problem, are really well done, and add a bit more to the experience than was originally offered in the first iteration of the game. However, the custom cabinets aren’t what really drive this game. A lot of people have been picking it up because it allows you to emulate custom roms within the game, allowing you to replay older games in virtual reality. While the game does this very well, I didn’t have too many problems popping in a couple of old NES games, the process is pretty confusing, and it makes for a lengthy setup, which might deter some users from making use of this particular feature.

All in all, New Retro Arcade: Neon is a great experience if you’re looking for something that brings the arcade atmosphere to life on your virtual reality headset. But if you’re looking for something that lets you enjoy the immersion that Vive’s motion controllers brings to the table… there are games out there that do a much better job at tracking and controls than Digital Cybercherries’ arcade experience.

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