Looking at the front page of Gamestyle you’ll see that we’ve become more focused towards the smaller, indie titles that have risen with the benefits of downloadable platforms. It also helps that these games are some of the most interesting produced. Velocity Ultra (an HD remake of the PS Mini original) is one of those. On the surface it may seem like a simple vertical scrolling shooter, dig deeper and you’ll find a ton of ingenuity.
It’s hard to sum up Velocity Ultra, it has so many different elements that it’s a hard game to categorise. As mentioned, just calling it a schmup would be doing it a huge disservice. It’s more like a fast paced, shooter, puzzle hybrid that also contains minesweeper. No joke, there’s an actual full version of Minesweeper in the game. Why? Not sure, but we’re glad it’s there! There’s also a calculator too if you fancy doing some sums.
With around 50 levels there’s plenty in Velocity Ultra to sink your teeth into, each one getting progressively harder and more challenging than the last. As the game begins you’re shown the more standard powers, for instance holding R will scroll the screen at a faster pace, and then later you’re given bombs, teleport around the screen and the ability to drop pods that allow you to essentially backtrack to an earlier stage in the level, critical if you want to grab all the survivors littered around the level. This is where the puzzle aspect of the game comes in.
Certain levels have switches that need to be triggered in a specific order to drop the shields over areas of the map. But in later levels these are split over multiple paths, so dropping a pod at the start of each junction is crucial in going back to that specific point and exploring the alternate route. Of course you could just teleport to the start of the level, but this costs time, and time is valuable in the world of Velocity Ultra. While there is a timer in the top left ticking down, in most levels you’re never in danger of it running out, but getting to the end of the level in the fastest time is important if you want to get the best score and medal. This in turn earning XP that unlocks the later levels. However, there are also levels that require speed. These levels are few and far between, but will require you to boost most of the way to the finish as the time limit is far shorter.
The variety in levels is certainly something we love about Velocity Ultra. These speed levels being interspersed with levels requiring switch puzzles or classic schmup, shoot anything that moves type combat scenarios. It means each level requires a different approach, and while it does take a while for the game to initially get going (early levels can be painfully slow when the game is teaching you the ropes), later missions really showcase the excellent level designs created by FuturLab.
Velocity Ultra definitely has a minimalist approach to the graphics, but then the game doesn’t need to be flashy, the gameplay is what will make it stand out from the crowd. Music is at times repetitive and, as previously stated, the game takes a few too many levels to get going, but these are minor quibbles in an otherwise brilliant title. So with that said Velocity Ultra definitely gets two thumbs up from us.