Ultratron (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 03.07.2015

Review for Ultratron on PlayStation 4

It's been over 30 years since Jarvis first kick-started the robot revolution, so it's refreshing to see that the original spirit of the arcade has been deeply entrenched in Ultratron, a package that should appeal to vintage gamers, as well as the generation(s) yet to sample its simplistic joys. Puppy Games has, thankfully, stayed true to the original vision by keeping the story succinct for its 21st Century remix, with the original mission statement still intact - Avenge Humanity! It's a perfectly rational response, really, considering that the protagonist is the last man standing against a plethora of robotic adversaries that have just murdered the rest of civilisation. How does it fare, though? Read on and all will be revealed…

Back in the swirling, pixellated mists of time, folk were forced to visit large communal halls called 'Amusement Arcades' to play videogames (puzzled younger readers at this point may wish to refer to the Internet or indeed ask a parental figure or village elder for further explanation). These noisy, magical, hypnotic … often smelly … places housed row upon row of coin-operated windows into interactive battlefields pitched at a difficulty level designed for advancement via pattern memorisation and repeated play. With a knock-on effect that resulted in the participant's pockets being drained of loose change while simultaneously nurturing mild addictions made it the perfect business proposition. When compared to the modern day, big budget, story driven, visual masterpieces that most now take for granted as the standard, these arcade machines were blocky, primitive and reliant on pure gameplay for the most part. It might not have felt like it at the time but THIS was the Golden Age of videogames.

Screenshot for Ultratron on PlayStation 4

Seeds were sown, blueprints laid out and many of the games that came to fruition during this era became the foundation that the whole industry was built upon with a far reaching influence that's still making its presence felt even now. Successful game designers being revered and elevated to rock star status is a fairly modern phenomenon and while there was little to no glory in this field during the '80s, one person did become a household name for those in the know. Eugene Jarvis was the man responsible for games such as 'Defender' (recently modernised as 'Resogun' by Housemarque), 'Smash TV' (a twin-stick shooter themed on Arnie classic 'The Running Man') and 'Robotron 2084,' a top-down shooter that pitched the player against hordes of killer robots that has been re-imagined here as Ultratron by Puppy Games. Welcome to today's world.

All the action takes place on a static screen with the player starting each round in the centre of the top-down battlefield while the robots spawn around the outskirts and proceed to zero in for the kill. As is the norm with a twin-stick shooter, the right joystick replaces the need for a fire button, giving the hero the ability to quickly aim in all directions while the enemies themselves arrive in a variety of shapes, sizes, attack patterns and shield capacity. Vanquished foes drop cash, which will disappear if not collected in a timely manner. However, gathering dropped funds comes at a slight risk in that the robots aren't above re-spawning on top of the player given half the chance. Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy.

Screenshot for Ultratron on PlayStation 4

The scales can be tipped slightly in favour of the player with a variety of power-ups that are dropped by shooting the high speed Spidroid that occasionally flies across the screen. Double bullets, multi-directional fire, invincibility, rebounding fire, deployable turrets, extra shields / smart bombs and even bonus cash payouts are only a small selection of some of the power-ups that get dropped. The aforementioned cash can be spent upgrading the player's firepower, defences and abilities as in keeping with the format laid down in Puppy Games' previous release, Titan Attacks!, there is a fully stocked shop that can be accessed between each round. While it would be nice to spend these recycled robot parts on frivolous items, such as the pets that follow the hero around aiding with the droid demolition, the reality is that most of the cash will be spent on replenishing the lost shields to ensure survival in the next round. Lousy pets drop at the first sign of gunfire anyway and continuously need rescuing. Unlike Titan Attacks!, which was overly generous with the checkpoints (awarding one at the end of each round), Ultratron is an altogether tougher proposition, making gamers wait a whole ten waves before saving progress, thus making the loss of all upgrades purchased after the most recent checkpoint a regular occurrence.

Screenshot for Ultratron on PlayStation 4

Boss battles? Funnily enough there's one before every tenth level checkpoint and these lumbering beasts take up half of the screen real estate, spewing bullets in every direction imaginable. Once the 40th wave is hit, the game resets but doubles up on enemies, meaning that once the fiftieth level is reached, the player is pitted against ... yes, guessed it ...TWO bosses at once. Ouch.

There's a bit of variety in the form of three different bonus levels that crop up every so often and provide the opportunity to earn extra money for upgrades. First up is the relatively simple 'Shoot all Spidroids,' which should be self explanatory, although unfortunately these versions don't contain any power-ups. Secondly, some self control is required for the 'Dodge' round, which involves avoiding all the erratically moving robots for the entire duration, which is simple enough but any bullets fired could cost the bonus if they connect. Finally, the 'Assault' round is the toughest of the lot and involves plenty of overly aggressive robots homing in on the player's location whilst simultaneously unloading their weaponry, making the battlefield a dangerous place indeed.

Screenshot for Ultratron on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There's a good reason why a lot of these older games are commonly referred to as 'classics' and even a modern day re-rub replicating the timeless gameplay has the ability to evoke memories of a misspent youth shovelling coins into an arcade cabinet. Ultratron is an addictive little blast that does justice to Eugene Jarvis's original vision.

Developer

Puppy Games

Publisher

Curve Digital

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Renan

There are 1 members online at the moment.