Ultracore and Fantasy Strike, two games that have been out for a while, received big updates recently, bringing these two games to more players than ever before.
We reviewed Ultracore fairly recently when it launched for the PlayStation 4, but the Vita release was unfortunately slightly delayed. Now that we’re seeing more new Vita titles on the store again, Ultracore got its well-deserved Vita premiere this past week as well.
Content-wise, ININ Games’ “brought back from the forgotten archives of DICE” run and gun shooter is identical to the previous release on the PS4. Being a retro game originally developed about a quarter century ago this also means that the audiovisual aspects of the game translate to the Vita extremely well – it’s a platform where ‘retro’ and ‘indie’ are a bit of the norm these days, and Ultracore fits in great.
The run and gun action is still a ton of fun as well, making good use of the dual thumbstick options that the Vita provides. The already awkward save game system is a bit of a problem on the Vita though, since a lot of people won’t have pen and paper at the ready to copy a long code when they beat a level – especially when playing on the go.
The frustrating platforming sections from the PS4 version also return for the handheld edition, so be ready to persevere through some of the toughest gameplay sections I’ve seen on the Vita so far. Get through them, however, and you’re looking at an incredibly fun 2D run and gun shooter from the past that benefits a lot from the addition of twin stick shooting mechanics. On the PS4 it was easy to lose interest after a while because of distractions like The Last of Us and Ghost of Tsushima, but with the Vita I definitely felt that “one more try!” urge while playing.
Fighting game Fantasy Strike launched just about a year ago for PlayStation 4, PC and the Nintendo Switch, and is the brainchild of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix developer David Sirlin. A fighting game with simplified controls that don’t require you to memorize lengthy sequences of button press and thumbstick movements, it instead focused on timing your attacks correctly.
There’s a dedicated tutorial that shows you the ropes of the game, which doesn’t involve crouching and divides its attacks regular melee strikes, a throw, two special moves and a super move. You block automatically by moving away and attacks can also be performed while jumping, but perhaps the most novel idea in Fantasy Strike is the Yomi Counter, which acts as a counter throw when an enemy tries to throw you and is triggered by letting go of the control momentarily. It’s a great trade-off between letting yourself be completely open to attacks and having the chance of a powerful counter move, and works especially well when playing against human opponents once you figure out their playing style.
Recently, the game was updated and now has a free-to-play business model, allowing players to get started without having to buy the game. The free version doesn’t include things like an arcade mode, but it does give you access to the full roster of fighters with which you can practice and play versus matches. Online multiplayer is supported for free as well, but still requires a PlayStation Plus membership if you want to use it. There’s a new Fantasy+ subscription service as well, which next to cosmetic items also grants access to replays of previous battles, which can be used to finely hone your skills – a useful feature for those eager to improve their skills and be more competitive.
In addition to going free-to-play, Fantasy Strike’s latest update also improves the animations for the entire roster of characters and adds cosmetic items. Best of all, however, is the addition of two brand new characters that aren’t locked behind a DLC wall and who both feel like good additions to the roster. Sirus Quince uses a range of visual illusions to trick his enemies, and his style of fighting is something I haven’t seen in other franchises either. The other new character, Onimaru, is much more focused on swordplay – this being a tad less unique but should appeal to fans of games like Samurai Shodown.
I definitely recommend trying out Fantasy Strike, even if it’s just to play around with unique characters like Sirus Quince. Thanks to the new free-to-play model, there’s no better time to do this than right now.