No matter how much of a hardcore gamer you are, there is always room for a silly arcade shooter in your life. This genre has been around for decades, evolving successfully to the style that we see today. Twin-stick shooters are big news for the indie market, and more recently we’ve seen some brilliant titles such as Enter the Gungeon and Neon Chrome. Older players will remember the brutally gory experience of Smash TV, and this is where I believe UltraGoodness 2 took its main inspiration from.
Developed by Rasul Mono and published by Ratalaika Games, this gory, fast-paced shooter will test your reactions and patience. You must plan your approach as you are expected to defeat wave after wave of evil creatures. Power-ups, diamonds and health must be collected on each stage, and these will help you upgrade your sidekick, defeat enemies in one hit, and survive for as long as possible.
What’s it about?
A once peaceful kingdom is now at risk of being overrun by evil forces. The only thing that will stop that from happening is the King and his trusty furry sidekick. You will face 30 levels of sheer hell. Bullets fly across the screen from the guns of demon bats. Fiery balls of fury will scorch you, and mushrooms will kill themselves to take you with them. You are armed with 5 hearts and a laser gun. You must use your wits and skill to avoid being struck, and wipe out everything in sight.
It’s such a simple concept, but the madness is great fun. You run around each stage like Rambo on acid; throwing bombs, using your apocalypse powers, shooting enemies, and dodging projectiles like a King possessed. You quickly realise that more haste and less speed are needed to be successful, and you plan how to approach each stage. There is no randomly generated algorithm here, so each level is exactly the same every time. You learn each monster’s hiding place, and you react to them before they’ve seen you. For anyone looking on, it makes you look like a pro, but they don’t know that you’ve died 100 times already.
Though the main concept is shooting, shooting and more shooting, the game has a trick up its sleeve. Time manipulation enables you to slow everything down. Simply stop moving and the world around you slows to a crawl. It was an element easily forgotten, but it was a brilliant tactical tool that enabled you to eliminate your foes.
It’s more than just a cat.
Collecting diamonds appears to be a pointless task at first, but then you realise you can upgrade your cat. Your floating ally has his own weapon, and depending on how generous you are with the cash, you can; use missiles, rapid fire, a burning laser, and many more. It becomes clear early on that victory relies on the power of your cat, so getting him up to speed with the correct accessories is a must.
The difficulty for a Ratalaika Games published title is quite high for once. Though on paper it looks easy to play, the limited lives combined with the number of monsters and their increasing firepower make this a tough nut to crack. The difficulty curve starts at a moderate level and slowly creeps up. I screamed the phrase “You *choice word* turd!” Many, many times. It’s a hilarious, frustrating affair that will bring the worst out in you.
Polished retro action.
As with most twin-stick shooters, the action takes place from a bird’s-eye perspective. You have a limited field of view, and unfortunately your enemies usually see you before you see them. The level’s are simple in design and lend themselves towards a basic art style. Vibrant colours stand out against the dark, earthy backgrounds that make up the opening portion of the game. The second and third chapters use a lighter background, but the same ominous atmosphere represents the plight that the Kingdom is facing. There was always plenty of movement on the screen, yet there were never any issues in how it played out. It was a smooth, enjoyable experience throughout.
When a game wants you to blow the head off of everything, you know the audio is going to be high tempo, and aggressive as hell. UltraGoodness 2 didn’t disappoint. A loud drum and bass soundtrack blares out alongside the action. Thuds of your bullets smashing into your opponent’s head sound on top of the music, as does the noise of their bodies exploding. It’s gory, over the top, and absolutely splendid. After playing this, you’ll need some time in a quiet room to allow your senses to clarify the in your face approach that Rasul Mono has taken.
Easy to play and easy to lose time.
I’ve reviewed countless twin-stick shooters, and I normally moan about how rubbish I am with the controls. Finally, a game where I felt comfortable with everything that the developers offered. You experience simple controls that are responsive and easy to learn. Your ally is controlled by the computer, so you need only focus on what you are doing to survive.
Whenever I’m offered a Ratalaika Games title, I’m assured that the achievement list will be short and easy to unlock, and the game is usually quick to play. That wasn’t the case with this game! Yes, it was simple enough to get the 1000 Gamerscore, but a full completion will take some time. Death is guaranteed, as is screaming and frustration. The 30 levels look easy on paper, yet looks can be deceiving. You must set aside hours of your life to get through every stage, and potentially a new controller.
Will Evil win?
Having your Kingdom overrun is not fun for anyone! Luckily, a well armed king and his cat sidekick can take down anything that crosses their path. A well designed twin-stick shooter that has perfectly balanced difficulty with progression. You must unlock weapons for your cat and choose the correct one for each level so that you can be victorious. Do I recommend it? Yes, I do! You can buy your copy here! Grab your cat and gun, get mad and get revenge. Stop the Evil from taking over your realm, after all you are the King!