Review: Ultracore – Nostalgic Gem Brought Back to Life

Review Ultracore PS Vita

Quite often we have seen many projects canceled during their development and then they are completed at a later stage by a new publisher or developer. Ultracore features a similar story however it was a game that was truly lost in the past and it has literally been brought back to life. Ultracore was originally developed back in 1994 for Amiga, Sega Genesis, and Sega Genisis platforms by Digital Illusions. However, near to its development completion, the game was canceled by its publisher Psygnosis. However, now after 26 years, thanks to Inin Games and Strictly Limited Games, the work on the game has been completed the game is now out on Nintendo Switch and PS4. This is our review of Ultracore on Nintendo Switch in which we explore this lost gem brought back to life in all its classic-infused-with-modern glory.

Ultracore is your traditional 90s era side shooter where you navigate through different leveled-areas and solve simple puzzles to progress in the game. The game features five levels for you to traverse, fight badass robot bosses and kill tons of robot enemies using some really cool weapons. Your main character can jump, shoot, and crouch. It sounds simple enough and actually it is pretty simple to play as well. The game has a really small learning curve and you will be mowing down robots in no time. You will find tons of mechanics both in gameplay and design that will easily take you back in time to the early 90s. Some of these mechanics are quite evident such as the classic run-and-gun gameplay while some of them are not that evident right from the start such as the platforming sections of the game.

Review Ultracore

Now Ultracore might be a 2D shooter and it may only have five levels to play, each of the levels is pretty complex with multiple levels and hidden secrets for you to find. You will use doors, elevators, and jumps to move around these maps and explore the hidden secrets. Sometimes you will come across certain hurdles such as electric floors and locked doors so you will need to find security cards or switches to progress further in the game. This introduces a decent change of pace in a game that is mostly focused on shooting your enemies. You can also jump on some enemies to avoid getting damaged.

The gameplay is pretty much anything you would expect from a game of this era. You run forward or backward while shooting your enemies. When you start firing, your direction is locked in place which is really helpful since you can then move forward and backward while shooting at the same enemies. This allows you to keep shooting while moving back and forth to avoid enemy movement and fire. Most of the enemies in the game simply run straight into your face including the ranged enemies such as the missile firing rovers so this feature is really handy as you can move back or crouch while continuing firing at the same time.

You will find plenty of weapons in secret hidden containers or get them using the in-game coins that you find in the levels. These special weapons are much more powerful but they also consume ammo. Your normal machine gun comes with unlimited ammo and personally, I found it much more capable of taking down a variety of enemies in the game. I even used it on bosses and it was good enough damage dealer. Having an extra weapon is also good by your side so you can easily switch out both of the weapons to mix and match. You also get a super attack called Super Bomb that deals massive damage to bosses and clears out any other enemy type on the screen quickly.

Despite the levels being pretty decent in size, the boss arenas are notoriously small. Some of the bosses barely fit in their arenas making your life difficult but then again these are boss fights. The bosses are nothing too technical and you mostly just have to learn their attack patterns and then avoid them to survive the battles long enough to defeat them. Apart from the bosses, the game is filled with numerous types of robot enemies ranging from smaller flying robots to large missile-firing robots. There are also plenty of walkers that you fight in the game. The game does not disappoint too much when it comes to enemies and bosses as each of them offers a fairly decent challenge. The game feels easier due to the fact that if you die, you respawn right at the same point even if this is during a boss fight. However, you only get a limited number of lives and continues before the game is over. You also have to watch out for a timer which if reaches zero, you die.

Review Ultracore

Similar to the visuals of Ultracore, the soundtrack is also retro and goes really well with the overall theme of the game however this release of Ultracore also comes with a modern full-length soundtrack that players can listen to while playing the game. Depending on your preference, you can change the soundtrack between the modern and the classic soundtrack at their own will. This gives players the option to have a more nostalgic playthrough or go for a more modern experience while playing the retro 2D shooter. The visuals however are left alone in their true retro form and there is not much different than the originally planned version and the actual release of the game.

One of the features that I missed the most in the game was the ‘Save’ feature. You cannot save your game in Ultracore. We have seen tons of retro games making a comeback to modern consoles with different modern features such as ‘Autosaves’ or at least with manual saves. However, this is not the case with Ultracore. There is no way to save the game but you can pause the game and put your console to sleep. However, if you want to play another game in the meantime, you must quit the game and then start fresh from the very level without any saves. However, every level comes with a password so you can enter that password and quickly jump to the required level.

Final Verdict:

Ultracore is a great 2D shooter and considering how the title was scraped near its completion, Inin Games and Strictly Limited Games have done an excellent job in bringing this rare gem back to life. It is certainly a trip back to a much simpler time with its retro visuals and simple gameplay mechanics. However, the simple mechanics do not hide its relatively high difficulty which is evident by the increasingly difficult platforming sections and bosses as you progress in the game. If you loved playing titles like Contra back in the early 90s, Ultracore is a brilliant nostalgic ride back to those days on your modern console. I will highly recommend that you try out Ultracore.

Final Score: 8.5/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

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