Every once and awhile I stumble across a game that is perfectly expressed by one word. In Ultratron’s case, the word would be chaos. Or rather, explosive, colorful, and awesomely fun chaos. From the moment you press the “play” button, Ultratron bombards you from every direction with bullets and enemies, constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat.
The developer, Puppy Games, has prided itself in creating this sort of retro-style arcade game, and the updated version of Ultratron certainly indicates they know what they’re doing.
The controls of the game are as standard as they get: the WASD keys control the direction of your cyborg robot, the mouse changes the aim of your weapon and clicking with the right or left mouse button either fires your weapon or triggers the boost (which you need to buy to enable). At first, Ultratron seems to be your generic frantic shooter; you dodge bullets and shoot back at the multitudes of enemies.
But as you continue to play, you notice all the tiny details that make this game (literally) shine: the background pulses, complimenting the feverish 8-bit music. Explosions are everywhere, and animations are clear, crisp and bright.
Upgrading your Bot
You won’t survive long without improving your bot. The profuse number of upgrades available are all unique and range from acquiring a powerful grenade launcher to gaining a number of mini pets that follow you around and fire bullets, lasers, and rockets in an attempt to aid you.
An interesting aspect of the game is that the type of upgrades you purchase will change your strategy rather drastically. For example, putting a bunch of points into “droid power” will make your own gun more powerful, while putting more points into your pets will allow you to focus more on dodging while letting your pets dish out damage.
I didn’t realize on my first playthrough, but upgrading the “speed boost” and “quantum shift” upgrades allows you to dodge right through enemy missiles and bullets. It makes you much harder to kill.
The game is divided into four short sections or “acts” followed by unlimited number of rounds during which the quantity of enemies slowly increases until you finally succumb. At the end of each “act” is a boss fight: evade the hailstorm of bullets from the monster ship and fire away until it dies.
Even though the first four initial acts are quite entertaining, the thing that really held my attention was the “endgame” where the only goal is to beat your highscore. Each time you complete a wave without taking any damage from enemies, you gain a score multiplier: as this multiplier rises, each round becomes more tense since taking any damage would mean starting back at the x1 multiplier.
After playing for awhile, you find yourself almost unconsciously flying around the screen, utilizing your amassed upgrades to reduce the enemy robots to nothingness and almost impossibly dodging right and left in the nick of time to preserve your fragile self. I’m not usually one to play simpler games such as this, preferring more complicated or strategic games, but Ultratron is beginning to change my mind – it’s good clean action packed fun and I had an absolute blast experiencing it.
There really aren’t many things that Puppy Games got wrong in this game. I don’t have any big complaints, but there are a few small things I’d love to see addressed.
- First off, some of the powerups were so visually distracting that they would hurt the player rather than help. The bouncing bullets powerup would often fill the entire screen with careening projectiles that made it difficult to see anything at all. Especially at higher levels, it’s crucial to know exactly where at all times – reducing the brightness of these extra particles would help them from being quite so blinding.
- Secondly, it would be nice to know upgrades get unlocked – I couldn’t quite figure out if they were unlocked by advancing in levels or by choosing certain upgrades. Subtle connecting lines or arrows between related upgrades could possibly resolve this issue.
- Lastly, another visual issue I had was that it’s difficult to distinguish the money fragments dropped after destroying an enemy in the midst of all the other things happening around the screen. I think changing the color of the fragments to something more unique would be a help.
This is a fantastic game. If you are into any kind of fast-paced action shooter, you should get it – even if you aren’t, it’s worth downloading the demo and giving it a go to see if it’s your kind of thing. I highly recommend if and I hope you have as much fun with it as I did. Also, I challenge you to beat my highscore. If you do, be sure to leave a comment below so I can try to beat yours!