It’s funny when we see a project rise back up from the dead, even when it seems like it would’ve never seen the light of day. Gearbox resurrected Duke Nukem Forever, for better or for worse; and Nintendo even brought back its long-lost StarFox 2, initially as a selling point for its SNES Classic before releasing it for Nintendo Switch Online’s service.
And now we have Ultracore, a game that was initially developed for the Sega Genesis back in the ’90s by Digital Illusions, a company that would later go on to become DICE. Yes, the Star Wars: Battlefront II and Battlefield developer DICE. For some reason or another, this game never saw the light of day, probably due to its original publisher backing out.
But now, thanks to ININ Games, it lives again. And while some people may argue that its limitations are a bit on the frustrating side, there’s something about playing this, finally, and seeing how fun it actually is. If retro gaming is your thing, this is a must-have.
Simple Yet Effective
Story really doesn’t matter too much in Ultracore. But then again, the same could be said for a lot of Sega Genesis fare back in the 90s. You’re a super-soldier making their way through a series of corridors, blasting any robotic threats that you come across while uncovering security cards to get into new areas. You’ll pick up additional items and new weapons along the way, and also discover hidden paths, a neat addition to many games from this era.
What’s great about Ultracore is that, while it still remains firmly in the old-school, the developer added some modern options, like the ability to use twin-stick aiming when it comes to obliterating enemies. This is especially helpful in comparison to general aiming, which involves you swiveling the analog stick around while you shoot foes. That said, it’s still a well playing game all around, and pretty exciting for the five-something stages that it lasts.
Alas, it’s a one and done deal, as there are no save points in the game, nor any sort of passwords. So you either beat it in one shot or start all over again a bit later.
The Run and Gun Mantra
Along with the classic shooting gameplay we’ve come to expect from games like these, Ultracore also highly benefits from a solid 16-bit style presentation. The graphics aren’t exactly a runaway success compared to other retro releases these days, but they are solid, with good animations and level design. The enemies could be a bit more varied, but the bosses make up for it with a large, foreboding design. The game operates nicely and doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to its gritty, grainy appearance.
Likewise, the music is a treat. Listening to it, there are some fun beats here, even if they manage to go on repeat every now and then. The sound effects are meaty as well, especially with the bangs and explosions that pop up. No complaints here.
There’s even an alternate mixed soundtrack as well, and it fits the bill just as well as the original tunes. Definitely give it a listen if you can.
A Short But Sweet Return To Form
So, no, Ultracore isn’t the longest game out there, as you’re likely to plow through it within a matter of hours. And the lack of additional options may feel like a letdown to some. But considering the history of this title, we’re lucky that ININ Games was able to preserve it in such a rightful manner. It’s a lot of fun to play; its presentation can’t be beat; and the modern control touches and alternate soundtracks deliver more than necessary. If only all long-lost projects could be given this kind of treatment.
A short but definitely sweet ode to one of DICE’s long lost secrets.
Streamer and Cosplay Enthusiast