Ultracore is a long lost game from the 90s, when it was known as Hardcore and never got the chance to be released. Swedish developers DICE (Digital Illusions) remarkably transformed it and publishers ININ Games launched it on home consoles of, for the time of review, this generation. It is a 16-bit run & gun action platformer, and a nice dive back into the times of now retro games.
The premise of the game is shooting away in non-linear levels that require you to think where you are going and where you were before, as there is no map layouts of them. You will also need to find security cards and later return to the other side of the level to activate them, find hidden paths and pull a few switches to continue. The bad part of the game is, that there are only five levels, but since they are not linear and pretty large, the game will not go by in seconds. You are able to aim in all directions and constantly shoot as you are avoiding and overcoming the enemies – the game acts like a twin-stick shooter in some ways.
The gameplay is fast, there are a lot of challenges and traps throughout the maps. As a retro game as it is, it also has a tremendous explosive gameplay in the genre of metroidvania games. You have 5 lives available, after that 3 continues and then it is game over – plays like a true arcade experience. The levels are extensive and the bosses are well armed, but are still fairly easy to be defeated. The soundtrack is also great and it fits a game like this, by pumping tunes from modern synthwave artists like Mega Drive and Scandroid, to name a few.
Everyone who loves 2D action platformers will enjoy this game. If you are into vertical side-scrolling mindless shooters, you will also like this game. All shoot ‘em up fanatics will also find their place in Ultracore. The only thing I can complain about is that there are, as I already said, only five levels and there is no feature to save your game – when you finish a level you get a password so you can start at the next one when you want to, but it is too damn long to write down, so you obviously do not do that, and just start the game again from the start.
All in all, it is a fun run & gun experience that will satisfy the needs of older audiences and newcomers alike. It is great that they were able to release it, even if it happened a few decades later.