Written by Twisted Ideas
I recently bought a PS Vita and have been going through the free games from Playstation Plus. I stumbled on Velocity Ultra, a HD remake released in 2013 of a Playstation Mini’s title. It’s a top down shoot-em up but this game has surprised me like no other. FuturLab is doing new and innovative things with the genre unlike anything I’ve seen in years.
Velocity was probably an overlooked Mini’s title on the PS3 but Sony, reviews and die-hard fans saw something special. Velocity won PSN’s Best Mini Game category and a HD remake was created.
At first glance Velocity looks like a typical top down shooter. Your ship has an array of lasers and upgrades shooting at enemy ships, turrets and debris. However, Velocity does things differently. The first major feature is scroll boosting. It increases the speed that the level passes by on what would be long and slow levels. Scroll boosting allows you to play levels at your own pace. The next feature is the ability to teleport your ship into any open space. This allows you to move past obstacles and that you can physically fly past, through or around. You can also set warp points to return to previous parts of the level. You have bombs that shoot in the four main directions allowing for combat and puzzle flexibility.
There are 50 zones with three main goals: speed, score, and survivors. The better you do the more experience you receive to unlock more zones. Each zone has survivor capsules that you have to rescue to successfully complete the level. Many survivors are only reachable via teleportation and the disabling of laser fields. Enemy ships come in wave and when all destroyed gives a capsule that restores special weapon use and more points. Laser fields protect survivors and enemies. You have to shoot the colored switches in order to disable them.
There are three main level types: Hostile Forces is your more typical shoot-em up levels, Search and Rescue are mazes and puzzles involving extensive use of laser fields and teleportation and Critical Urgency which requires near 100% scroll boosting to while shooting enemies and collecting survivors at a chance for the best target goals.
What do I think?
Velocity Ultra is fantastic. I didn’t know what to expect but I didn’t expect it to be this addicting. Velocity slowly introduces the gameplay elements and keeps surprising you on could still be done with the shoot-em up genre. Normally I don’t like the shoot-em up genre. I find even the best of the genre like Gradius, Ikaruga and many others are bullet hell games that requires too much observation and dexterity than necessary making them frustrating. FurturLab looked at the genre’s flaws and solved them. They took the improved mechanics and combined them with sublime level and puzzle design. When the scroll boosting is combined with the teleportation and shooting the game is at it’s best.
There is a story about a black hole and how your ship is the only thing able to rescue stranded survivors in space but it’s quickly forgotten about. After the first couple of stages they only story you get is bonus communication logs and a final scene at the end hinting a sequel. I appreciate that it’s there but I really did forget about it over time.
The game also comes with bonus challenges and minigames. There are versions of Snake, Space Invaders, Minesweeper and FuturLab’s own Coconut Dodge.
Visually the game is simple but it works with the size of the sprites. Other than the enemy ships looking bland and green everything pops in the darkness of space. The music is composed of techno tracks which aren’t too complex as to be distracting. It blends in with the feel of the game and doesn’t get old.
Should you get it?
Velocity Ultra is an excellent PSN game. It’s incredibly fresh and innovative and difficult to put down. This is great for Vita users because it works well in short burst and on the go. The game is incredibly polished and it shows. Velocity Ultra is one of the cheaper downloadable game on the Playstation Network and it should not be missed.