Ultracore, back from the dead!
This Review covers the Switch release of Ultracore. It is also available on PS4.
Ultracore has a bit of history. Previously known as Hardcore, it was essentially ready for release in 1994. The developers even stating it was “99%” ready. However the pin was pulled and the game shelved. With the current surge in popularity of retro gaming, Strictly Limited Games, decided to purchase the rights and polish it off for release.
Thankfully they did! Ultracore is a run n gun title that would have been hailed as a mega drive classic if it had indeed reached release. In standard retro fashion you are a muscular soldier armed to the teeth tasked with stopping a mysterious bad guy leading a robotic invasion. The campaign has five sweeping levels, absolutely packed with robots trying to kill you. There are multiple bosses on each level. It is a run n gun game, but is by no means completely linear, the levels are maze like, have plenty of secrets and require a bit of back and forth collecting key-cards to unlock the way ahead.
As your machine slaughter continues, you pick up new weapons, bombs and items to help you with your task. As I have found recently with my trips back to retro titles, Ultracore is hard. You will need your finger on the trigger essentially all the time to stand a chance of clearing through enemies. All the while dodging traps and other obstacles that will damage you. Not to mention there is a ticking clock on each level, you do not have time to muck around!
It can get a bit frustrating at times, as it feels certain rooms are literally designed to just kill you, but overall it is very fun! Aesthetically, its great. Levels look fantastic with enough changing detail to keep it interesting. Everything feel super silky as you play through and its hard to believe that this was scrapped when it was so close to release. There are 2 soundtracks that are interchangeable and in particular the synth style mix is a real treat.
Ultracore does have a few drawbacks. Most notably, there is no save states, only the old school style of passwords at the end of levels. The enemies can get a little bland, not a massive amount of variation. It’s also not much for re-playability unless you really want to find all the secret spaces in the game.
Overall, this is a great retro game and it is a massive pity it didn’t release when it was supposed to. If you are a fan of run n gun retro titles this is definitely worth picking up, and even if you are not, I would recommend having a look, especially if it shows up in a sale.
A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Gamehub for review purposes