Limber up that drawing finger with Neon Blitz

Neon Blitz is a new iOS and Android game from Vivid Games. It’s available as a free download from the App Store and Google Play. This review is based on the iOS version, tested on an iPhone 4S.

In Neon Blitz, players are given one minute in which to trace as many patterns as possible. These patterns are split into distinct, colored components like real neon signs, and each component must be traced one at a time, starting from a colored star and finishing at its end point before moving on to another. Successfully tracing components in rapid succession adds to the player’s score multiplier, and points are awarded constantly as the player is drawing. Drawing too inaccurately or going in the wrong direction causes the score multiplier to be reset. Various bonuses — and sometimes penalties — may be acquired by tracing through them as glowing items appear on the various lines.

As the name suggests, the game structure of Neon Blitz is heavily inspired by PopCap’s popular Blitz puzzle series, following Bejeweled Blitz’s specific model particularly closely. Before each attempt, the player has the opportunity to expend in-game currency “stars” on activating various “boost” items that range from adding additional time to the game clock to reducing the accuracy required to register a successful drawing. Occasionally — and seemingly randomly — the player is provided with the opportunity to expend a larger amount of stars to take on a specific challenge such as scoring over a particular milestone without making use of booster items.

The player is provided with a generous allocation of stars upon first starting the game, and may then earn more at a very slow rate through normal play. Currency may also be acquired via in-app purchase; by inviting friends; by following Vivid Games and Neon Blitz on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; by watching ads; or by engaging with a Tapjoy offer wall (somewhat misleadingly labeled as “Unlimited Stars”).

Also like Bejeweled Blitz, Neon Blitz is built for social play. The iOS version uses iOS 6’s built-in Facebook connectivity to track friends’ high scores and allow players to brag about their achievements. Players may also check their performance on global leaderboards — including using Game Center on the iOS version. Regular contests set specific challenges, often with new play mechanics. This facility encourages players to check back in on the game regularly to see what’s new.

Neon Blitz is an excellent mobile game. It’s well-presented, with attractive visuals and unobtrusive (if unremarkable) sound as well as the oft-requested facility to choose background music from the device’s music library directly within the app. Social connectivity is well thought out without getting in the way, and the simple nature of the game coupled with its free-to-play nature means that friends will probably have little difficulty in getting a group of people together for impromptu tournaments. Its quick-fire, 60-second “blitz” gameplay is ideal for mobile play as a “timewaster,” but the fact that the levels are randomized each time the game is started means that those who wish to play for longer sessions are catered to as well. It’s a good example of how to make a high-quality mobile game — and following the proven business model of Bejeweled Blitz means that it’s also likely to monetize well too, assuming it can pick up users in the first place. Its current feature spot in the App Store’s New and Noteworthy section will certainly help with that, as will its free price point, but it remains to be seen how long a tail Neon Blitz really has.

Neon Blitz is not currently ranked on the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress on both iOS and Android with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.