Another week, and another twin stick shooter hits the PlayStation Store. This time it’s Puppygames’ Robotron-inspired retro shoot ’em up, Ultratron, which has been ported to PlayStation by Carbon and published by the nice chaps at Curve.
You control the one remaining humanoid battle droid and your mission is to avenge the human race who have all been slaughtered off-screen. There are 40+ levels with a boss fight every ten levels, plus a varied supply of enemies to slaughter and in a extremely retro move, fruit to pick up for bonus points.
You play in one single, unchanging area on screen. It’s basically a box, and enemies appear from the sides and corners and head towards your droid, firing weapons and homing missiles. Destroying your foes drops cash and to fight back you can power up your droid with all sorts of extras including smart bombs and up to three AI droids (or pets, as they are called in game) that fire rockets, lasers and bombs. Spiderdroids occasionally zoom across the screen and by destroying them release a power up which you cannot purchase, such as bouncing bullets, three way fire or bezerk mode.
Ultratron is also a TSA record breaker because it took 57 minutes from me receiving the preview code to ‘finishing’ the game by reaching the level 40 boss and nab the gold trophy. That includes a small break to shove a pizza in the oven, and the time to download and install the game. However, the game continues to loop levels after the fortieth with increasing difficulty so there is no real ‘end game’ here.
Initially, there seems to be far too much going on screen, and in later levels it becomes very easy to lose track of what is going on due to the flashy effects. Fortunately you can turn off some of them in the menu, but even then the screen is packed full of sweeping lights, numbers, air bots, bullets and probably some kitchen sinks. It doesn’t help that to keep the “cool neon” look of the game, the enemies and bullets are of the same colour palette as the background; green and black enemies firing green and black bullets on a green and black play area is a bit of a headache.
The game is also unforgiving, spawning enemies right on top of you as you swoop in to collect coins, but with extended play you get to learn some of the patterns and your score will start to rise. Careful use of your coins in the shop will give you a distinct advantage.
Robotron is widely regarded as classic arcade game and Ultratron retains the “just one more go” urge of the original. The addition of online leaderboards means you can chase high scores, both worldwide and those of your friends, and thanks to the fairly large combinations of power ups, each game will play out slightly differently depending on your choices. A handy checkpoint system means you can skip forward to level forty and jump straight in to the frantic action, rather than having to work through slower levels first.
As with most games it is a lot more fun when playing local co-op and long with the multiplayer option, the console version also includes touch pad support, plus some fun lighting effects with the PS4 lightbar. It’s a cross buy title so you get PS4, PS3 and the PS Vita versions all in one pack for £7.99 and there is the option to cross save between all three versions.
Ultratron is a simple game in which you move around a single screen and shoot bad guys. That said, it does that single screen shooting very well. I would have liked some variation in the level design, and the graphics can get rather muddled at some points, but overall it’s a polished little package. The local co-op is great for when you want a quick game to play with friends – younger players will love it – and the Vita version will be excellent for killing ten minutes on a bus journey.
Version tested: PS4