Ultratron looks very retro and you would be forgiven for thinking it’s another retro looking twin stick shooter playing on your nostalgic desires and rose tinted glasses. You would be wrong however as you quickly realise that Ultratron has a unique sense of humour and borrows from a number of different games and ideas.
Ultratron is obviously, from that intro, a retro inspired twin stick shooter. Left stick moves, right stick fires and there’s a button for smart bombs which clear the screen. Some enemies take a few hits, some move and some fire back. There are four main areas of different enemy types and colour changes but the broad hexagonal play area doesn’t change. Each arena/level is broken up into stages before finally reaching a boss.
Pixel design is heavily in play here with an over-arching theme of robots taking over the world. The plot doesn’t play a major part as ultimately this is a game about high scores. It isn’t particularly difficult either – I managed to get through to the final stage in my first play through and there is also the one sole mode and difficulty. So where’s the replay value?
This is where Ultratron starts to shine. Each time you kill an enemy, they drop a small dot. You have a limited time to collect this dot and with it you get points but also money. The bigger the enemy the bigger the dot and the bigger the prize. This is where it gets clever. At the end of every stage you get a selection of upgrades which you can spend your prize money on and it’s this where Ultratron takes it’s second big influence – the roguelike.
Throughout the progression your upgrades stack. Better upgrades cost money – do you level up your main weapon (you can also find upgrades in the field) or perhaps some robotic assistance. You can replenish shields, get a speed boost, automatic collection of dots – a variety. Your play style will change depending on your selection and upgrade path.
There are a few other curveballs whilst you play – fruit floats around for example. Yes fruit, straight out of Pac Man. Collect this for points and avoid the nerf power ups. These can be shot around to get out of your way but collecting them can strip you of your upgrades.
The final dimension are the bonus stages where you have a special challenge such as kill all the spiderdroids or avoid the bots. This all contributes towards a nice variety and added challenge within the game.
Definitely one then for those after an old school challenge. A lack of variety in game options is balanced by a challenge to best your own score and trialling different builds to be as dominate as possible. It’s a bit of a shame that it doesn’t make use of the full screen, rather focusing on a centre arena but given the bullet hell fever at points this is probably for the best. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s good fun and if you’re into twin stick shooters then it’s worth a look as Ultratron tries something a little bit different.
Reviewed on PS4/Vita