This generation of console has seen a dramatic surge in Indie title hits so it is no surprise that smaller companies have stepped in to fight for a slice of the console market. Switch Galaxy Ultra is the latest in a range of games repurposed from their mobile roots, to take a shot at occupying your living room.
If you are familiar with the original PS Mobile game, you will not be surprised that the core mechanics remain the same, but its obvious that the production values have had a significant bump to give Atomicon their chance in the limelight.
The game is preceeded by a very stylised, and 2000AD-esque, introduction to our main character Vince Vance, which openly portrays him as a loveable rogue and opportunist; a vagabond wandering the space lanes finding and shirking work as often as we would change clothes.
Now working as a glorified intergalactic miner, he is responsible for the harvesting of Tantanithide from the space lanes for Dakur Technologies; run by the enigmatic yet eternally bored Arnur Ness, in order to create Tantalum a fuel capable of instantaneous intergalactic travel.
Firstly, the universe in which Switch Galaxy Ultra persists is a beauty to behold. While rushing between worlds through the expansive systems outside the core, meteor clusters, alien planets and distant galaxies will appear and disappear from your view as you hurtle along what can only be described as the Kessel Run, if it was designed for Hot Wheels.
The premise is extremely simple. Race along an endless-runner style track while changing lanes to avoid blockages and hinderances.
The main campaign has you race between planets collecting as much Tantalum as possible to hit your quota, which in turn allows you passage on the next phase of your travels. This is achieved by navigating the space lanes to avoid the numerous and ever growing obstructions that get in your way. Drone ships, barriers and damaged track all bar your way to victory.
Typically, the tracks are split into two seperate sections. Pre-Tantalum and Post-Tantalum. Pre-Tantalum is all about gaining speed, gold and avoiding obstacles as each one hit will slow you down unless you have a gate ticket, but I’ll come on to that later.Once in Subspace, the controls change and rather than just hopping tracks on the X-Axis, the Y-Axis is also unlocked allowing you free movement around the screen in order to pick up the precious resources contained within. Each track holds 10 Tantalum, and once passed you return to the space lanes for the Post-Tantalum section.
Where previously it was all about gaining speed, this section is all about responsiveness and reflex. You see once you have Tantalum on board, each barrier you hit will reduce your Tantalum resources by one. That is unless you have a gate pass.
As you progress through the game, the frequency of gates and their variation increase. By the time you have completed 10 runs, you will need to strategise as to which gates you have tickets for in order to pass successfully. You can purchase at the start or pick up during the run, gate passes in Red, Yellow, Green or Blue. The challenge then, is not about avoiding the gates but knowing which ones you can pass through without incident.
With an Endless mode and challenge modes within the campaign itself there is plenty to be getting on with, and although to start the cost barrier for the campaign seems easily achievable, the latter levels access cost of Tantalum collected will send you back to retrace your steps and replay levels over and over again.
The reason you will repeat time and time again, is that the core section where you collect Tantalum is 30 seconds long from within a 5 – 10 min run, and during this section the ships movement is extremely loose and hard to judge whether you will collect a tantalum or if it will pass millimetres to the side of your ship. That said, all your efforts can be nullified by one barrier hit in the final stage of the run, even if you are successful.
Those issues aside, I found myself engrossed in the story that played out and was happy to play over and over again just to unlock enough Tantalum to see the next elegantly drawn comic story section and the vast array of ships, upgrades and skins will keep the collector in you on their toes.
SGU is in no way unique in its gameplay beats, but what it lacks in diversity it makes up for in style, presentation, speed and sheer enjoyability.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: PlayStation 4 / Vita Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Switch Galaxy Ultra by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a PlayStation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.