Flashy visuals are great, but... what in the world is actually going on?!
One genre that is a bit underrepresented on the Wii U is the twin stick shooter and that is honestly a bit of a shame. Outside of XType Plus and Nano Assault Neo, there isn't anything else in that genre, and I wonder why that is. Is the genre on its way out, or is the market for these games served already on the PlayStation 4? Whatever the case might be, Curve Digital and Puppy Games jumped on the chance and has filled up the gap that was left empty for a while now. The result is Ultratron, which is a title that is solid for the most part.
Ultratron's gameplay is easy simple to grasp. You control a simplistic robot with the left stick, while you shoot with the right stick. You can also use smart bombs by pressing the shoulder buttons on the Wii U GamePad, but those are your only options. This is pretty straightfoward and the same can be said about its setup. In every level, enemies will appear at all sides of the screen and it is your task to shoot at everything that moves. All sorts of robots, drones and other mysterious objects inch towards you and try to destroy your shield, which saves you from destruction. By firing bullets at them and staying alive, you will earn points and continue to go to harsher and more complex stages.
Along the way, you will pick up fruit that will give you points and you are able to collect certain powerups. These could make your attacks more powerful, gives you short term advantages or creates a drone to aid you in time of need. Similar to Puppy Games' last outing, which was Titan Attacks, you will be able to upgrade certain skills between levels with the money you earn. You can for example increase the layers of the shield, boost up your firepower or increase your defenses with pet drones. The key is not getting hit too much as that you can continue to grow, because before you know it, the enemies are becoming kind of insane.
Ultratron features forty levels for you to uncover and these are split up in sets of ten. The goal is to complete a set without failing and destroying the boss at the very end of it. They aren't too difficult, but they break up the gameplay in a nice manner. What is harsher to survive are the assault stages, which are the fifth level in every world. In here, hordes of enemies will come your way and it is truly the biggest test of your shooting skills. Finally, there are also bonus levels, which challenge you to shoot all the incoming units as quickly as possible. Doing it perfectly nets you additional cash, which can be spent on that upgrade you really need. To keep the game engaging for a long time, Ultratron has online and local leaderboards. This will keep you pushing for new heights as you try to be the best of the best.
The game's presentation is quite lovely. The pixelated aesthetic fits the mold perfectly and Ultratron manages to bring a quite colorful and bright look. The only serious problem was that the game featured way too effects for its own good. It became really hectic at times and I had a hard time seeing certain things at a glance. With shock waves and text that overlaps the screen, you can be easily distracted and take unnecessary hits. If there was an option to turn some or all of it off, the game would be perfect for me. As it stands, it is a severe irritating factor.
Ultratron is a perfectly fine twin stick shooter and it is certainly worth playing. Sadly, it is too flashy for its own good and this creates problems that are uniquely its own. If these problems weren't there, this could have been my favorite shoot'em up in a while. It is still really good, but when it becomes jarring, Ultratron just really needs to calm down a bit.