Velocity Ultra – PlayStation Vita
Publisher: FuturLab Limited
Developer: FuturLab Limited
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Genre: Arcade, Shooter, Puzzle
Reviewed by Jason Flick
Review Score: 5 of 5
Velocity is back and it’s gotten one hell of a power-up on its arrival to the PS Vita. Last year I got to review the amazing PSP/PS3 Mini known as Velocity. That little package of a game was absolutely addicting on multiple levels and I couldn’t get enough. While the PSP version was amazing, you could also play it on the Vita if you wanted though it came off looking “not quite right”. Well fans of the original asked for a sharper version for their shiny new Vita handhelds and the awesome people at FuturLab listened.
There were very few things that I didn’t enjoy about the original game other than the graphical stretching on anything but the PSP. Even today I’m still clumsy when it comes to using the traditional hold button and aim inputs to warp or launch bombs under pressure and I fell into those habits again when playing Ultra. Velocity Ultra didn’t just receive an aesthetic boost though. as you speed through this vertical top-down shooter. It also gained some rather nice control upgrades along the way using the Vita’s front touchscreen and extra analog stick.
The ninja Quarp Jet that I know and love still controls exactly like it did in the PSP version. Moving the Quarp around can be done effortlessly with either the left analog stick or D-Pad as you shoot your way through defenses and enemy ships. You can actually play Ultra just like the PSP version right down to the input commands. However I took full advantage of the Vita’s two unique features to make my way through this joyride.
The first feature is that they mapped the bomb throw mechanic to the right analog stick which is a lot easier than the button/aim alternative. I found it a lot easier to hit required targets at a moment’s notice with the flick of an analog stick. The other major feature and one that I really wanted to see also makes its debut in Ultra – the ability to use the touchscreen to teleport around the level. I can’t tell you how many times I died in the PSP version due to a misdirected teleport. While not active by default, you can activate this feature and use it to quickly teleport in and out of areas including the many secret chambers that are off the beaten path. The one drawback is that I actually teleported into the edge of a wall several times so you have to be careful where you tap.
As with its PSP version, Velocity Ultra isn’t just a shooter; it also contains some really clever puzzles that are as evil as they are addictively brilliant. Energy fields require you to hit various circuits in a specific order to disable them. There was even a level that required you to use long range telepods to return to the start of various path trees to find the next colored circuit. There’s one that I particularly liked that featured a triple colored series of barriers that was really fun to figure out.
Chamber-seeking and survivor-hunting notwithstanding, there is a bit of urgency during some of the levels. Certain ones require you to speed through the level by holding down or tapping the RB Button to give you a speed boost. You just have to be sure to teleport quickly unless you want to end up as debris against a wall or fried against a laser grid. You are actually rewarded at the end of each level with various levels of Bronze, Silver and Gold medals and experience for balancing out time, collectivity and exploration. There are several in-game trophies for being proficient in it and other areas of gameplay. New to Velocity Ultra is the inclusion of player leaderboards so you can see where you stack up against your friends and the world at large. For even more bragging rights, Velocity Ultra also gains Trophies including the much requested Platinum for completing and unlocking all the little goodies.
Velocity Ultra features the same great gameplay and additive fun, but it does so now with a sleek new visual package. The retro aesthetic is still very much present though the levels have been meticulously redrawn to show much greater detail – though you may not be paying attention as your boosting through the levels at a smooth 60fps. The starry backdrops behind the action are pretty cool but not nearly as awesome as the newly revamped anime-style stills between levels.
Velocity Ultra may have a new visual look but it still contains the same out-of-this-world soundtrack composed by the award-winning Joris de Man (Killzone). Velocity Ultra features a smooth upbeat retro score that is just as addictive and integral to the experience as the gameplay. FuturLab couldn’t have found a more perfect match with Joris de Man to their fast-paced and unique gameplay. I couldn’t decide which I liked better, the gameplay or score and I still can’t with Velocity Ultra.
Velocity Ultra only cost $7.49 on the PSN Store which is priced a little higher than its PSP counterpart but the higher price is totally worth it. Besides the core game, Velocity contains a rather interesting computer screen that contains folders and programs such as unlockable challenges, art, and mission logs. Mines, which is a basic version of the iconic PC game Minesweeper returns as well as FuturLab’s own version of Space Invaders. Velocity Ultra is just as addictive as ever and one of my favorite PS Vita titles to date. If you missed out on Velocity the first time around and own a Vita, now’s your chance to experience Velocity Ultra the way it was meant to be played.