Starfighter Neon doesn’t do much. Keeping things simple is the name of the game here, and I can’t say that’s a bad thing. Too many titles have overblown aesthetics, massive worlds and amounts of content that leave hours of unrest in completionist eyes. While I think there could be a bit more here, I had a great deal of fun playing this; even if it is rather light on content.

Created by MadeOfDinosaurs (awesome name), Starfighter Neon is one of those arcade style shoot’em-ups where you fly around the screen and shoot baddies. That’s it; no story, no bosses, and not even a level select. You’re a ship and you go pew-pew,  that’s all. Sure, it doesn’t sound impressive, but I don’t think it’s trying to be. It’s going for the basic shmup routine – pickups, enemy waves, and some light unlockables. Oh, and there’s leaderboards to track your score.

Starfighter Neon, review, the indie toaster

Arcade Style With a Standard Smile

Like any good shmup Starfighter Neon has a variety of weapons pickups; though, there aren’t that many to be honest. Since each weapon overwrites your last, you’ll only have access to one at a time. That’s fine, but because yellow pickups contain a different weapon depending on the starfighter your using, you’ll only see three during a session. In reality there are about seven weapons in all, so on one hand yellow weapons add a bit of uniqueness to each starfighter; but on the other, it limits the amount of variety per match.

It’s not much of a problem, but I would have loved to see them all drop-able in a single round, or at least have a couple more blasters to keep things interesting. It’s a small gripe though, and it certainly didn’t hinder my overall experience that much.

Starfighter Neon, review, the indie toaster

SmartBombs end up being one of the most useful items since, when picked up, they instantly kill all hostiles on screen; and, because they’re dropped by enemies, there’s a good chance that afterwards you’ll have three more flying your way. The dopamine flow really gets going whenever you chain a bunch in a row; and the way the screen lights up with each explosion really brings it all together.

Then there are coins, they’re used for buying new starfighters, but since their so cheap you won’t have to play long before you unlock them all. That’s a good thing though, as it lets you go ahead and get acquainted with the ships, all of  which have their own momentum, speed, and even a sense of weight.

Sadly, I never found the starfighter variety too pleasing. It just seemed like there could be a couple more to unlock, or maybe some ships with slights tweaks to the already existing ones, like color swaps. All in all they were fun to unlock though, so I’m happy.

Temper those expectations!

As far as game mechanics go that’s about it. There’s a lives system I’ve yet to mention but it’s just that – a lives system. So what’s so special about this game? Well, nothing really.

Don’t get me wrong, I think this game is great fun; but it doesn’t do anything to stand out from the rest and, judging by the modest steam page descriptions,I’d say that was intentional. Really, whether or not you like this game comes down to your expectations. If you go into this aware that it’s a simple affair you’ll probably have fun, but if you thought something else then you might be disappointed..

Starfighter Neon, review, the indie toaster

To be fair, when I was first playing Starfighter Neon, there were several moments I wondered if the game was still in development. The whole thing feels rather lacking. I expected another mode or some more enemy variety at least. I think I only spotted three different enemy types not counting those damned asteroids; and I have to admit, restarting the level to the same harmless enemies time and time again is rather tiring. A hard mode could help a lot in that respect.

It wouldn’t take much, but adding a couple things to flesh-out the game more would help a ton. Something as simple as changing the color of the background every other death would work wonders in keeping things, at least visually, interesting. Like I said, I think the intention was to keep things simple, so It doesn’t bother me that much, but it might bother you.

Lots of Bloom But Not Much Boom

The game looks nice enough, again it’s not a looker, but it does the job. It’s simple aesthetic lends well to the chaotic nature of the game, but  have to say – though I enjoyed the bloom effects used by Starfighter Neon, it had a tendency of blinding me to the point that I couldn’t tell what was going on. This was usually after using a SmartBomb, and though It never got me killed –  somehow – I was  dying inside every time it happened. Other then that, no gripes. Looks really crisp as well.

The music and sound weren’t quite as nice though, they were actually pretty underwhelming. I barely noticed the sound effects most of the time, and the music didn’t hit me the way it could have. Good music in tense situations is amazing and would have gone a long way to further improve the experience. Stuffs not awful, keep in mind, just rather unnoticeable.

A Standard Shoot ’em Up

Really, that’s all I can say about Starfighter Neon. It’s good and it’s fun, but it isn’t winning any awards. I really don’t know if that’s a good thing in most peoples eyes, especially when the capabilities of games nowadays are so high. You may not like it, but you might love it. For me, Starfighter Neon, while meager on the content side, gives a certain joy that only comes from not having much to think about.

That might sound weird, but if you think it doesn’t then this game might be for you.  Pick it up if you like what you read.