Ultratron was developed by Puppy Games and published by Curve Digital on Xbox One. It was released on May 8, 2015 for $9.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.
If any long forgotten genre of videogames has benefited most from the advent of digital distribution and the influx of creative, independent game developers over the last few years, it must surely be the shoot-em-up. We’ve seen more or less every obvious take on the theme imaginable, yet I’m almost always pleasantly surprised by the next innovation or twist.
Ultratron is the latest twin-stick shooter to launch on the Xbox One and it promises a number of interesting features, including “unique retro-futuristic sound and graphics, player responsive difficulty, and a subtle system of tactics combined with classic gameplay.” At first glance, Ultratron looked like a fairly uninspiring arena based shooter, but I’m pleased to report that despite a few minor complaints, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
It could be said that time has not been kind to the humble shoot-em-up. Over thirty years ago, games like Space Invaders, Defender, Asteroids and Galaxian were drawing mullet-sporting teens in stonewashed skinny jeans and tight leather jackets to amusement arcades like moths to the glowing neon lights that would hang above the entrance. Today, such arcades are a rarity; mostly replaced by shops or trendy bars and often pulled down entirely, whilst the teenagers of 2015 queue all night outside their local grocery store to buy the latest copy of Call of Duty minutes after its launch.
The shoot-em-up genre has never been keen to go quietly into the night, however, and every generation of consoles has had its fair share of classic static, scrolling and roaming shoot-em-ups for players to consider. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a couple of days with Project Root, an upcoming shooter from Argentinian developer OPQAM that is positioning itself as the definitive next-generation take on this classic genre.
Project Root claims to feature a unique open world aspect in addition to crisp controls, cutting edge graphics, a comprehensive upgrade system and a truly exceptional level of challenge. The game isn’t scheduled for release for a few more weeks, but my experience with it over the past couple of days leads me to suggest that it may yet need a little work to live up to the lofty expectations set by the forebears which it aims to emulate.