This is a review of Wired Neon Cities, by Scott Malhouse.
Wired Neon Cities is a rules ultra-lite 80’s cyber-punk game consisting of 6 pages, of which there are 3 pages of rules, 1 page character sheet, and a cover page and blank rear page.
Long Story Short: The game works and I would play this over Shadow Run or similar extremely complex traditional games. I also would play this rather than cyberpunk story games because I don’t like story games.
Here is a basic description of the mechanics. Roll over your stat number (3+ is best, 5+ is not so good) on d6 to hit/achieve success. Die modified by difficulty. 4-6 HP. +1 HP per level up. Several classes, each with different HP and one or two special abilities each.
The second page of rules is mostly equipment, augmentation, and NPC stats. The third page (not including character sheet) has the settings, which are pretty good considering it’s made on one page.
This game works because the classes and descriptions match well for the 80’s cyberpunk genre. It also works better than “full” games because cyberpunk games often get bogged down with too many equipment and special powers rules… Wired Neon Cities avoids that trap. There are just enough powers, equipment, augments, etc.
SIDENOTE: What is the difference between 80’s cyberpunk and modern cyberpunk? I think in the 80’s people had this concept that everyone would be either in an evil corporation or they would be punk-rockers. Now, we think everyone will be in evil corporations or we are slaves to Facebook. Or a completely uploaded personality. Or something.
There are a few things I would have done differently as a designer and there is one problem I see which I do not have a ready made fix for. I think there should be variance in weapon damage (ie. different damage for rifles, SMG, etc). I think people who like cyberpunk like the toys, so there should be a little more differentiation here. I think there should be a damage roll for combat, especially for guns. Maybe a roll over armor value, or a roll 1 = no damage , 2-5 = 1 , 6 = 2 damage. Right now the damage is a static 1 point per successful attack. This is made more bland because it ensures that on a one-on-one fight, it will take 4 successful attacks to take out an opponent… that’s often too much. There is plenty of design space to make that more interesting.
A more serious flaw I see is how hacking is done. Not that it is bad, but it will probably be done by the “hacker”. This is a problem that cyberpunk games often have. Unless hacking is something that should be done in every scene (something that could work in an Eclipse Phase setting), I’m afraid the hacker will have nothing to do.
Well… that’s it. I recommend Wired Neon Cities. It’s fun and simple and captures the essence of 80s cyberpunk genre. The game has room for improvement and is very hackable.
[4 of 5 Stars!]