Ultracore – Review
Follow Genre: Shooter, Run 'n Gun, Action, Arcade, Platformer
Developer: DICE, Strictly Limited Games
Publisher: ININ Games, Strictly Limited Games
Platform: PS4, Switch, Vita
Tested on: Switch

Ultracore – Review

Site Score
Good: easy controls, challenging
Bad: no manual saves, poor text design
User Score
(5 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.6/10 (5 votes cast)

Ultracore (or Hardcore back in the ‘90s) was originally due to be released for Amiga, Sega Genesis, and Sega CD platforms but never actually came through. Until now, that is. Close to 25 long years later, the game has fi-nal-ly arrived for the latest gen consoles. And we’re totally here for it. Run ‘n Gun game Ultracore is action-packed, nostalgic, and addictive.


After busting a few caps in the first stage, you end up in a room where you find your mortally wounded commander. Before dying, he is just able to tell you what has happened while we were out.

Vance’s surprise attack has overrun the troops at the base. His machines were equipped with “state of the art” weaponry and have taken over all the outposts in just under an hour. The base is now infested with those machines. During the assault, one of the droids could be captured and crucial information is extracted from it. An immense invasion is planned on our home planet and with all of the forces spread out in the galaxy, the consequences of such an attack would be disastrous. It is up to the player to find and stop Vance before he commences the invasion.


Ultracore was originally developed in the ’90s and is an authentic Run ‘n Gun 16-bit game. You can see that the game is a true love letter to classic 2D action games from back in the days. Looking at the visual quality, it’s obvious that the game should’ve come out on the SEGA decades ago. This is meant in a very good way! The younger generation is now getting a chance to experience old-school gaming life at its best and the millennials can simply just relive those glorious days right on their next-gen console.

Now, let’s not forget that it is 2020 and not 1995 anymore. We’ve come a long way. Especially game design-wise. And reading any text in this game is just plain terrible. The font is so hard to read with its block-ish form, putting an effect on it or putting a similar background color behind the text just makes it even harder. For example navy blue text on a black background? Embossing on already small text?? Wildly moving text made out of orbs??? Yes, the text doesn’t actually matter that much in these kinds of games, but still, this is something that shouldn’t be a problem anymore in this day and age.


Not only will the visuals take you back in time, but the bopping synth music and tensive sound effects that accompany you through the stages will also give you that sweet sweet nostalgic feeling. There are two soundtracks to choose from. The original soundtrack from the ‘90s and a brand new synth-wave/electronic soundtrack with more than twenty full-length tracks of some of the genre’s most talented artists such as Scandroid, Mega Drive, Waveshaper, Fury Weekend, 3Force and many others.


Ultracore is now out for Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and Nintendo Switch. And the controls couldn’t be easier for the latter. Since it’s a Run ‘n Gun game, you are – as the name already suggests it – mostly only be running and gunning through the stages, with the occasional jumping and interaction. Since there are more buttons on the Switch than there are controls in the game, you are able to use multiple buttons for one action, e.g. you can use Y, ZR, and right joystick for shooting,  B, L, and R for jumping, etc. This is actually quite nice because you can play the game how you most prefer it.

The main goal of the game is simple: survive; navigate through the base, shoot down all the big and small mechanical enemies, and conquer boss fights at the end of each area. It sounds fairly easy, but don’t be fooled. The stages are long and hard. This is not only because of the deadly enemies but also because of the tough, maze-like areas. And the game does not have manual saves. So if you lose all your lives, you’re done for.

Luckily, you don’t always have to start over at way in the beginning. If you lose a life, you’ll just start over where you left off. And if you lose all of your lives, you can start at the beginning of the area, if you use a credit point. But what if you are all out of lives and credits? Well, that’s where you’re kind of screwed. See, Ultracore doesn’t use manual saves but it does give you the ability to enter a level code for you to start at a certain point in the game. But these codes are only given every two stages AND it is unique to your specific game file. So make sure that you note those down. Your future self will thank you.

What makes Ultracore stand out more from most other platform games are its extra challenges. Besides keeping yourself alive through each level, the player also has to collect arsenal, energy, coins (some in secret places), all while keeping an eye out for your decreasing ammo, health, lives, and time.


Against all odds, Ultracore came through and seems to have time-traveled from the ‘90s tube TVs right to our consoles and hearts in 2020. The game and sound design are brilliant now as if it would’ve been back then. The game is definitely very challenging, perhaps too challenging at times because you can’t manually save. But that could also be the reason that makes the game so addictive.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.6/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Ultracore - Review, 6.6 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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