Updated: Jul 4, 2020
Originally planned to be launched in 1994 on Sega Genesis as Hardcore, the game has been brought back to life as Ultracore, and has launched on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and eventually the PS Vita.
The game captures the look and feel of games from the Sega Genesis era. The game is a side-scrolling, run and gun, Metroidvania style game that takes place in the future. Your mission is to stop the mad scientist who is planning to unleash a group of robots to take over the world.
The first thing that stands out is how beautiful the game looks. The 16-bit era of graphics has certainly aged well and Ultracore is no different. While the game portrays a dark future, the game itself is bright, colorful, and detailed.
The music is also fantastic. It has a good mix of synth pop with driving bass and drums. The music captures the essence of gaming from the 90's. The music beautifully sets the tone of the game.
As mentioned earlier the game is a Metroidvania style game. As you explore the game you'll find different guns and switching between the guns is as easy as clicking the "X" button (on the Switch). You'll need to find ammo for the new guns you find, although all the guns utilize the same ammo supply, so there's no need to hunt for different types of ammo. Your basic gun has unlimited ammo, so that is a plus.
As you progress through the game there will be places that are locked with different color keys. Finding the keys isn't too difficult, most times it's near the door you need to access, which is a good thing, because finding your way around the game can be a bit tricky.
This is where my first complaint of the game comes in, you don't have a map on your character. There are terminals that you access that will show you the portion of the map that you are accessing, and it's not very helpful. While the concept in an interesting one, and from a realistic standpoint, it makes sense, but from a game mechanic standpoint, it makes the game more frustrating than challenging.
There are a few more mechanics that were kept in the game that should have stayed in the 90s, one of which is getting knocked back by an enemy or a projectile. The game has plenty of moving platforms, hovering over a portion of the floor that will kill you instantly if you land on it. And jumping from platform to platform can be extremely frustrating when you see an enemy mid-jump and get hit and knocked back, missing your target platform, and falling to your doom.
Another aspect of the game that should have stayed in the 90s is timed levels, especially in a Metroidvania style game that doesn't provide you with any maps. To be fair, there are plenty of time extending pick ups you find along the way, but it's still a strange concept to include in a Metroidvania style game.
Probably the biggest gripe is the fact that there is no saving in the game, instead, you are presented with a code after you beat a level, that you'll need to enter the next time you play. On top of that, you have five lives and for each life you have a pretty generous health bar, but as previously mentioned, if you fall due to the knock back mechanic, into an instant death, this can be very frustrating. You do have 3 continues as well, it just seems that having save points would have been a better experience. This game is called Ultracore for a reason, it is supposed to challenge you, but the game can still be challenging even incorporating save points.
Final Grade: B
There is plenty to love about Ultracore and it certainly does deserve to be brought back to life, especially since it was nearly complete back in 1994. The game's look, feel, and music will certainly pull you into the game, however, the lack of maps and save points make the game much more frustrating than it needs to be. If you are looking for a challenge, this game will be right up your alley.