- Format: PS4 (version reviewed), Vita
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Atomicom
- Developer: Atomicom
- Players: 1 + Online Multiplayer
- Site: www.switchgalaxy.com/
- Game code provided by the publisher
Switch Galaxy Ultra puts you in the cockpit of Vince Vance, a rogue space pilot in the same vein as Star Wars icon Han Solo. Vince has a CV that takes in the position of Pigeon Fancier, Pirate and Primary School Teacher among others! His latest venture has him collecting and delivering a resource known as Tantalum for a company called the Dakur Corporation. This entails taking his spaceship along an interstellar highway to various outposts and collecting as much Tantalum as he can before trying to deliver it, all while trying not to lose any during his journey.
The game begins with a well illustrated comic strip that sets the scene for the games universe, and is obviously inspired by the battle-scarred galaxy of Star Wars with its space junk aesthetic. There is no overarching plot, with the comic simply being used to add depth to the game’s backdrop. When you get into the game itself, your ship sets off along a track with several lanes that have various obstacles thrown in your way such as multicoloured barriers, broken tracks, and other space travelers. While the game is reminiscent of the Wipeout series, the game mechanics are a lot more simplistic, with gameplay limited to acceleration, braking and changing lanes. When you get to the halfway point of the track, you are hit with a mini game, where you have to collect the Tantalum. During this stage, you have to steer your ship through a space tunnel that resembles the opening credits of Doctor Who, and try to fly through the ten pieces that are dotted throughout the level. After this is completed you are put back on the track to deliver the collected Tantalum, all while trying to avoid any collisions that will take a piece of your cargo away. The more Tantalum you collect the better; as you need it to unlock levels, and to progress through the game.
The game contains over 50 levels, and courses get more complex with extra obstacles put in your way as you progress. You also get help with boost pads that increase your speed significantly. Coloured orbs let you travel through similarly coloured barriers, while colliding with bombs takes out whole sections of barriers and any nearby spaceships. As you progress through the game enemy ships appear that fire bombs at you (these slow you down or invert your controls). Credits are also dotted around the tracks which can be spent on buying upgrades to your ship to increase your acceleration, boost, dexterity, density and shield; or even buy a new ship altogether, which has better stats than your original one. You are timed for your endeavours through each level, but your time isn’t important, as your focus is on collecting as much Tantalum as possible to enable you to unlock the next level.
The later levels can be particularly punishing, and require a great deal of concentration if you travel as fast as you can. There’s a great deal of repetition, with the Tantalum collection mini levels in particular being pretty dull. We found ourselves racing as fast as we could during the first stage, as there is no penalty for crashing into barriers, and this enables you to go for it and enjoy rattling around the course as fast as your ship will go. Collecting the Tantalum is pretty easy, with each stage being a straight tunnel with only the positioning of the Tantalum being different from stage to stage. When it comes to delivering the Tantalum we found it quite easy to just keep applying the brakes throughout the level, and going through the stage at a snails pace. It means you can basically deliver all the Tantalum without too much of a problem, as your finish time is irrelevant.
As well as a single player campaign, Switch Galaxy Ultra also has a survival mode, where you have to get as far as you can through a randomised stage where just one collision means game over. You are judged by how far you get, and this distance is posted to an online leaderboard. Concentration is the name of the game, and you dare not blink for fear of crashing. While playing this mode, we found a few instances where we thought the collision detection was a bit off, which was quite frustrating when we were doing pretty well. The game also has an online multiplayer mode, but during our time with the game we never found anyone to play against; which was disappointing, as the game boasts cross play with Vita players.
Switch Galaxy Ultra isn’t a bad game by any means, but it’s not a very inspiring one either. While the sense of speed is tremendous when you go for it, the gameplay is quite repetitive and simplistic. The graphics are also very much from the last generation of consoles, although the soundtrack goes well with the onscreen action. With a few tweaks to the gameplay Switch Galaxy Ultra could have been a decent game, but unfortunately it’s an average one at best.