Ultratron review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One
Publisher: Curve Digital
Developer: Curve Digital/Puppygames
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Leaderboards

Note: Ultratron is not Titan Attacks!.

I feel the need to say this up front, since it would be awfully easy to mistake one for the other. Their logos look remarkably alike. Their gameplay is equally retro-inspired. They even have the same developer and publisher… which, come to think of it, probably explains away those similarities.

There’s a key difference, though: whereas Titan Attacks! was just a straight-up Space Invaders/Galaga clone, Ultratron is a bit more varied in its influences — or, at least, harder to pin down. I don’t think that you could draw a straight line between it and any specific arcade game from thirty years ago, but if you’ve ever played any twin stick shooter from the era, you know what’s waiting for you here.

Ultratron 1

For that matter, even if you haven’t played a 30-year-old twin stick shooter, you know what’s waiting for you here, just from that description. You’re a little spaceship, and you’re zooming around a very little screen, dodging enemies and blasting them with lasers and bombs and whatnot. Occasionally you get power-ups like bouncing bullets and three-way firing. There’s really not a lot to it.

Like, really, really not a lot: there are only four bosses and a little over forty short levels (counting bonus levels separately), which means that it probably won’t take you too long to finish off those four bosses. Technically, it should be noted, Ultratron has 40+ levels, since they start looping in harder and harder variations after you beat that fourth and final boss, but let’s call it like it is: unless you’re a hardcore high score chaser, when you beat the last possible boss, you’ve basically beaten the game.

That, of course, doesn’t apply if you’re the sort of person who has to have the highest score. If you are, then I guess Ultratron’s leaderboards could probably become your new home.

Ultratron 2

Should they, though? That probably depends on your love of nostalgia. I wouldn’t say there’s anything that Ultratron does spectacularly well, but at the same time, it controls and plays solidly enough. Nostalgia comes in with the game’s look at feel: between the little robots and the flying fruit power-ups, this game will pull hard on the heartstrings of anyone who grew up in an arcade. (Though the levels where the bombs and bad guys are practically indistinguishable from the background may dampen your anachronistic ardour a little bit.)

Lacking that remembrance of things past, however, makes appreciating Ultratron as a whole a much dicier proposition. I can see enjoying it in small doses — but considering how small a dose the entire game is, you could be forgiven for thinking your time and money might be better spent on a longer-lasting, more immersive experience.

Grade: B-