Sometimes you’re looking for a game with heavy cinematic elements, a gripping story, and complex game mechanics. And sometimes you just wanna cram yourself in a tight space and blow up as much stuff as you possibly can. Ultratron on Xbox One is definitely for fans of the latter.
As a spiritual successor to Robotron 2084, many classic arcade fans will feel right at home with this retro-inspired twin-stick shooter. You play as a super-charged battledroid on a mission to avenge the human race after evil robots kill the final living human. You must feed your robo-rage and destroy the four robot masters, which are all cleverly named after the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In Latin, of course.
“…you can unleash some pretty devastating combos upon the robot scum”
Each stage throws your battledroid into a small arena and your objective is to destroy all enemies to proceed to the next stage. In the traditional twin-stick styling, one joystick controls your movement and the other controls the direction in which you fire. Your active attacks are limited to basic fire and grenades, but there are in-game powerups that drop by killing special enemies. Sometimes it’s something as simple as an extra grenade or extra shield, but you can also get limited time buffs for your basic attack like spread-shot or triple-shot. Many of these powerups can also stack, so you can unleash some pretty devastating combos upon the robot scum.
Defeating enemies will cause them to drop coins, which must be manually picked up in order to reap the rewards. This stressful mechanic adds an exciting edge to the gameplay. Running to the coins will add funds to your bank, but also puts you at risk of being damaged by spawning enemies, but trying to defeat everything before grabbing the cash typically will cause it to disappear. Collecting enough money will allow you to upgrade your battledroid’s skills, buy new weapons, and even unlock little robot pets to aid in your quest for revenge. The amount of upgrades and unlocks is very impressive and allows you to build your character in a variety of ways. I had a ton of fun experimenting with different skill combinations and even after hours of playing, I was never able to unlock everything.
The standard campaign of Ultratron consists of 40 stages, but don’t expect to notice a huge difference between them. You’ll fight a boss robot every 10 stages and the background images, stage colors, and enemy types will slightly change, but more a less, you’ll just be fighting more waves of the same enemies as you progress. After about 15 or 20 stages, you’ll have seen pretty much everything there is to see. Even the bosses look ridiculously similar and besides more weaponry, I barely noticed any change. If you’re not in the right mindset, this will become very repetitive very quickly. However, if the 40 stages of robot slaughtering wasn’t enough for you, there is a seemingly endless mode after the “final boss” that allows you to continue playing through special stages and upgrading your battledroid. This adds a lot of replayability for the folks who can’t get enough twin-stick action.
“After about 15 or 20 stages, you’ll have seen pretty much everything there is to see.”
Ultratron is a solid arcade shooter with a crazy amount of customization and a surprising level of strategy. The extensive upgrade system gives you plenty of reasons to smash through evil robots with a big smile on your face. If you’re a fan of games like Smash TV or Robotron 2084, you’ll definitely appreciate the retro aesthetics of this shooter. However, If you’re looking for something to invest days or even weeks into, you may want to try elsewhere. The game can be completed in under an hour and if you’re not sold on the upgrade system, you’ll probably find Ultratron very repetitive. But if you’re in the market for some good ol fashioned arcade fun on Xbox One, this will definitely scratch that itch.
*This review is based off the recently released Xbox One version of the game. Ultratron is also available on PS4, PS Vita, PC, and Wii U.
Miles Dompier is the chief editor and founder of What’s Your Tag?. He is a Seattle native who recently moved to the sweltering heat of Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a composer/voice actor. When he’s not up writing until his eyes bleed, he likes to play a Prince level of instruments and listen to terrible death metal. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter and be sure to join our gaming community; TEAM XBRO.