Ultratron – Review

Title   Ultratron
Developer  Puppy Games
Publisher  Puppy Games
Platform  PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox One
Genre  Shooter, Arcade
Release Date  May 8, 2015

Ultratron, by Puppy Games, is an arcade shoot ‘em up that follows on from their Space Invaders-inspired Titan Attacks, a game we didn’t particularly rate. That was partially because it stuck a little too close to Space Invaders which, classic status aside, was never a particularly fun game to play.

This time the inspiration is the granddaddy of the twin-stick shooter genre, Robotron 2048. Much like that game, Ultratron is top down, twin-sticker that is set in single screen arenas that are patrolled by all sorts of mechanical bastards.

Much like Titan Attacks, the game has a cartoony look with simplistic, neo-retro visuals that straddle the gap between flashiness and clarity quite well but with a definitely low-budget feel that may alienate players who are a bit bored of the retro revival that indie developers seem so tied to these days.

Thankfully, as far as retro-themed shooters go, this is a good one. It has already been around on Steam for a couple of years but has since arrived on PS4, PS3 and the Vita as a cross-buy, and cross-save, title and it feels just about at home on these devices.

Where Titan Attacks struggled with the weight of Space Invaders‘ crushingly dull gameplay template, Ultratron manages to be fun, something that Robotron never got right (need any other classics shat on? I’m here all day). The first difference is that the difficulty is pitched far more fairly than Midway’s hateful original and enemies here drop coins that can be used to purchase a lot of different upgrades. Going for the coins adds a nice bit of risk-vs-reward gameplay and the upgrading options are interesting enough to keep you mulling over your next move for quite a while.

With a mixture of hectic regular levels, challenge stages, and boss battles, there’s enough going on to keep the game interesting and a helpful checkpointing system bookmarks your progress after every ten stages which stops you getting utterly demoralised when you finally die.

As with Titan Attacks, both the controls and the visuals feel deliberately chunky and it may take some getting used to, especially if you are used to the pixel-perfect play of Geometry Wars 3, but the game is still very playable and clever use of upgrades will make up for some of these issues. Also, in quite a nice touch, you can tone down the visuals a little if it all seems like your eyes are getting bummed by a Jeff Minter dreamscape.

It may be a little derivative, shallow and you’ll probably forget about it pretty quickly, but this a bubblegum kind of arcade game with all the flavour up front and it’s pretty damn tasty for a while. And with some tricky trophies to earn and a cheap asking price, you can’t go too far wrong if you want something to play that has a bit of immediacy to it.

  • A genuinely fun take on Robotron.
  • Cross-buy, cross-save.
  • Addictive upgrading aspects.
  • Cheerfully bright presentation.
  • It's a bit simple.
  • Can get a bit mad visually.
  • Lacks a little bit of precision.

There have been quite a few indie shoot 'em ups released on PSN and many of them are trash but Ultratron is a surprisingly fun take on the perhaps oversubscribed twin-stick shooter. If you're looking for some cheap thrills, this is well worth a look. Or you could try some pills from that guy at work with neck tattoos. Either's good.

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