I must admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for Puppy Games and their work. I’ve been a fan of them since Titan Attacks! first made its way onto Steam a while back, and, with the recent Steam release of Ultratron, I now own all four of their titles. Their games are just so genuinely charming, featuring a unique mix of old school gameplay with an interesting graphics style I’ve often heard referred to as “neo-retro.”
With the exception of Revenge of the Titans, each offering by Puppy Games is essentially a spiritual successor to some classic game or another, and in Ultratron‘s case that game is Robotron. Like the arcade classic that inspired it, Ultratron‘s core gameplay is very simple: You are in an arena and must survive waves of evil robots that spawn from the sides of the screen. Dead enemies drop coins you can pick up that give you money, and between waves you have a chance to purchase various upgrades.
Like in many of their other games, the upgrade system is surprisingly pretty extensive. You have your typical stuff like buying extra health and upgrading the power of your gun, but other upgrades can be quite drastic. A major emphasis of the upgrade system is buying friendly drones that follow you around and automatically attack enemies. These pets have their own upgrades, like increasing their targeting speed, fire rate, range, and other aspects. Other upgrades give you interesting new weapon options in the form of plasma grenades or the ability to nullify a fatal hit by using one of your screen-clearing smart bombs.
It can’t be stressed enough how damn charming everything made by Puppy Games is. The “neo-retro” graphics are very aesthetically pleasing. Their titles have this 8-bit look to them, but the graphics are very clean and crisp with lots of bright neon lights and colors. The music and sound assets are great. The character designs are also quite adorable. The pets even have hearts floating above their heads as they follow you around. You can tell that a lot of effort went into creating the visual design of Ultratron and everything else by the company.
That’s more or less the game in a nutshell. It is a very simple game, but also extremely fun and pretty challenging. There are around 40 levels and 4 bosses, and like many arcade classics it is designed to be played over and over again to try and get better high scores. I don’t really care about high scores, but I do enjoy Ultratron enough to keep coming back to it. For the next few days the game will be $5 on Steam before going back up to its normal price of $10. You can also find it on Puppy Games’ official website, puppygames.net. While you are at it, check out Revenge of the Titans, Titan Attacks!, and Droid Assault for more retro-inspired fun.