Sometimes I’m puzzled by a non-puzzling game, and I start to wonder if I am just plain missing something – like the good times. Back to the menu I go to review the details of How to Play; sadly, they do not explain how to enjoy Neo Defender 2. They do tell me how to control my ship, an immovable sphere (the last surviving ship in your fleet) in the center of the screen. Players must use their dual cannons to defend as fast as your fingers can tap. Enemies are geometric and brightly colored with varying HP, and you can’t let any of them reach your ship without risk of taking some serious damage.
The game is touch controlled, and tapping (or touching for sustained fire) directs your cannons as you mow down the enemy. I suppose the interesting part is that the game is dual touch and you can touch with a single finger for twice the firepower in one direction, or touch two fingers in different directions to combat the offensive on the 360 degree front. That is, you can do that If you’re really good at aiming in two different directions – and you have see-through fingers. Tapping with one finger obstructs enough of the screen that it should be counted among the opposition, tapping with two is a recipe for disaster.
Between levels there is the opportunity to purchase health as well as upgrades. All are pretty steep and range from shields and missiles to nukes and lasers. Lasers are preferred, as is anything like the “mega cannon” that packs serious oomph. You’ll need that oomph as every few levels a formidable boss is incorporated into the waves of enemies. It’s relentless, challenging, and you don’t stand a chance – which is a winning formula in countless games, but Neo Defender 2 lacks that mysterious compulsion to succeed. Fighting off the hordes in a blaze of lasering gunfire, and I just couldn’t be bothered to care. Maybe this is a game for easily engaged masochists, and I don’t meet the base criteria?
Games can be played and lost pretty quickly which is generally favorable in a portable titles, but makes Neo Defender 2 feel shallow. The opportunity to choose upgrades between levels is a necessary respite from the tap-hungry gameplay that allows you to steel yourself against the next round of torment. There are achievements for the gratification-oriented, and those function as the only tangible goals since you’re otherwise pretty doomed. Aesthetically, Neo Defender 2 touts “retro-style”, but instead of invoking nostalgia the neon colors and geometric enemies just seem unoriginal.
The stationary “ship” you man is a bit frustrating, like Asteroids without the ability to dodge, and it would be nice to automate some defenses. The game as-is delivers a heavy dose of boredom, and it’s too bad the real challenge is in finding the fun. Neo Defender 2 isn’t broken by any means, why you would play is just a bit baffling. The game is a great workout for your index finger, if that’s a pursuit of yours, otherwise it’s a lacklustre effort best left on the App Store shelf.