Ultratron for Linux Review – Dying as an Art Form
key review info
- Game: Ultratron for Linux
- Platform: Linux
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Ultratron is a 2D shooter developed by a studio called Puppy Games, whose sole purpose is to torment players with fantastic games that are insanely difficult to play.
I first heard of Puppy Games after their first game was released, Titan Attacks. It was a Galaxian arcade remake with all the necessary ingredients to make it great. It was hard, but not impossible. After countless hours of perseverance, I finished it. It’s the only game from Puppy Game I managed to get through from one side to the other.
The developers from Puppy Games have been keeping themselves busy, and they've released quite a few other titles, all with the same graphic style of Titan Attacks, but with different types of gameplay.
All their games are available on the Linux platform and on Steam. If you hurry, you might even catch the latest Steam Sale, which cuts their prices by 80%. Even without the price cut, the games made by this studio are worth every penny.
This is not something new, but the game stands out because it employs deceptively crude graphics, with high-contrast objects and enemies. This means that even if the design of the units might seem something from the 8-bit era, which is also the original intent, the game makes use of an advanced engine with beautiful effects.
A word of warning. This is a difficult game and it never lets you pass to the next stage unless you have the necessary skills to do so. The first time I played it I thought I was doing a good job, until the first assault round when I died like a n00b.
After a few clear levels that indicated the overall difficulty of the game, I got blown away by the first major hurdle. The second time I played, I managed to get past the assault level and I made it a few levels further, but I died without understanding why.
You control a robot with the WASD keys and you aim and fire with the mouse. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! Besides shooting everything that moves, you also have to collect the money they leave for upgrades. You can’t leave anything behind because you are going to need every cent.
After finishing a level, you will be given an opportunity to upgrade your bot in various ways, to buy secondary bots, to get huge bombs that wipe everything on the map, and that sort of things. Mostly you are going to buy shields, and lots of them.
The good news is that you won’t die right away. Every hit will be subtracted from your shield and you will have to try to not get hit at all during all that mayhem.
Bonuses will be dropped from time to time, if you manage to hit a fast moving enemy that appears at times. Unlike the upgrades that you get between the missions, which are permanent, these ones will expire after a time.
If you think the levels are hard, wait until you meet the bosses between the levels. They fire from all directions, have no blind spots, and they keep the players on constant motion. Whenever you manage to finish a boss, you will feel truly lucky.
Another thing that you will notice about Ultratron is the superb soundtrack that keeps the players engaged in combat. It’s fast, simple, and blends perfectly with the gameplay. It’s also fun to hear the enemy robots shouting "die human," when in fact they are fighting against a robot controlled by a human player.
It’s difficult to understand why any player would return to a game that's killing him constantly, but the developers are counting on it. It’s difficult, but it’s right on the edge. It lets you hone your skills and makes you better. If you pass the level it’s because you earned it.
- Pure arcade game
- Complex upgrade system
- Lots of levels
- Difficult boss fights
- Sometimes it's difficult to discern what is happening on the screen
Studios are no longer making games that are truly hard, with very few exceptions. Big publishers don’t want their customers to feel inadequate in front of a simple title. That’s why the hard ones are usually made by indie developers who understand the mind of the arcade players.
In Ultratron you will die a lot, but every time you get through a level, you feel that you are better at that particular activity. It’s a feeling that can’t be rivaled by anything else. And this is exactly the case with Ultratron, it can’t be matched by any other game.