Ultracore (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 29.07.2020

Review for Ultracore on Nintendo Switch

Buying Ultracore before doing any research, is bound to make you think that it's an indie title that captures the 16-bit era like only a few can. It just so happens, however, that this actually hails from those distant years. A creation of Digital Illusions (the current DICE), its near-complete development was terminated by the producer, with Strictly Limited Games eventually saving it from oblivion, and restoring it for the current gen. Sadly, the company didn't really touch much of the original source material, with the result being something that lacks some expected modernisms, and carries some of the flaws of early '90s gaming.

The big evil what's-his-name has send his army of bazillion robots, and the only one who can save the world is a cyborg-looking man in dark blue spandex. There's some flavour text in here, with a couple of "cut-scenes" thrown in as well (essentially still images), but this isn't about the story, but about shooting down every last one those metallic invaders. The spandex dude (just call him 'Ultracore' if you want) has to brave a handful of - fairly large - levels, which besides the gunplay, have him searching around the place to find helpful resources, or keycards to open doors, with quite a bit of platforming thrown in as well. None of it is bad... for a game from the mid '90s which was never completed, that is.

This lacks the polish of a finished and tested product. Then again, maybe Strictly Limited Games didn't really want to change anything, which is why this oozes with 16-bit charm. The sci-fi dystopia on offer has a gritty, industrial style that's very... Mega Drive, with a neat (if a little generic) synthwave soundtrack bopping along the action, which will probably bring a tear to Amiga aficionados. Don't like it? Just go to the sound options, and choose, the equally neat (and equally generic) CD OST. No, this doesn't get a perfect 10 in audio-visuals, as the magic soon fades out, but it' definitely a looker that lovers of all things retro will appreciate. Too bad the game isn't that good.

Screenshot for Ultracore on Nintendo Switch

For starters, Ultracore is repetitive. Blasting the same few drones and robots can get old very soon, especially since this doesn't offer something to spice things up. SpandexGuy can find more weapons to add to his arsenal, and these are generally stronger, which is why they use limited ammo, but they don't actually change the gameplay at all, as most just tend to be better alternatives to the standard machine gun. The second issue is that this title relies in trial-and-error a bit too much, even for something that was basically created in a time when that was a somewhat accepted tactic.

Now, a game can still be fun even with a heavy reliance in trial-and-error, but this isn't it. Want some reasons? Well, how about enemies that appear out of the sky, not giving you a single second to react? Do you like foes that are placed in such a matter that they can't be avoided while going up or down on an elevator? What about plenty of semi-unfair, instant-death traps, and in a level that has overstayed its welcome over 20 minutes ago? Sadly, this is basically Turrican minus the fun.

It should also be noted that, while the developer purchased the rights to the game, and ported it to modern systems, it didn't change much. Apart from adding twin stick controls (a godsend feature, as the original scheme feels completely unnatural), there are nothing fancier, which means that players will have to do without save slots, as completing a level gives a - long - level code. Of course, that wouldn't be much of an issue if the game had a better balanced, fair challenge, and more exciting gameplay.

Screenshot for Ultracore on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


While impressive from a technical standpoint, Ultracore carries way too many flaws from the past to be a solid recommendation, whether you are a retro fan or not. Repetitive, unpolished, somewhat unfair, and very trial-and-error-y, it's pretty evident that the game's current owner didn't really do much before porting this interesting piece of old-school history to modern systems.


Digital Illusions


ININ Games





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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