Review: Switch Galaxy Ultra (PS4/PSV)

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Title: Switch Galaxy Ultra
Format: PlayStation Network Download (694 MB)
Release Date: December 14, 2014 (UK) / December 23, 2014 (US)
Publisher: Atomicom
Developer: Atomicom
Original MSRP: $18.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £11.99 (UK) *This is a Cross-Buy title.
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Switch Galaxy Ultra is exclusive to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. *This is a Cross-Buy/Cross-Save/Cross-Play title.
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s Note:
One of the DLC packs for the game, Charity Pack 1, was created by the developers to aid the Caudwell Children Charity with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the Caudwell Children:

We wanted to do something special for the game and so designed a DLC pack where all our profits are going direct to our favourite Charity, Caudwell Children. Yes seriously, we aren’t making a penny from this DLC Pack. In the pack you will unlock an exclusive branded ship – the Orion, 15 new levels including 2 extra challenge levels, licensed music from artists Chase and Status, Kove, Modestep and Nero and the knowledge that downloading this pack will go towards helping children who need support.

Gameplay:
What began as a critically acclaimed PlayStation Mobile game called Switch Galaxy has now seen a massive re-imagining on the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita as a Cross-Buy title.

You play as the brilliantly named Vince Vance, one of the last remaining humans and one of Dakur’s best pilots. The Head of Dakur Technology, Amur Ness, has tasked you to go out into the galaxy and collect the valuable element tantalum for Dakur to use in researching their new jump drive. The game is spread over fifty nail-bitingly fast levels that progressively become more difficult. You need quick reflexes and an eye for danger if you want to reach the end.

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You’ll slowly acquire credits that you can use to buy new ships and then upgrade and give a new coat of paint if you wish. You can also buy plans for the upcoming route to find out what obstacles lay ahead or even some barrier passes that allow your ship to travel through certain colors without being damaged.

With your only movements being left or right, you have to guide your craft across an ever winding track with multiple and often broken lanes. An insane amount of colored barriers, speed boosts, cargo ships and many more things fill the track. Depending on your ship and the upgrades, you’ll be able to sustain a few hits, but with each one your speed decreases and you could even lose some precious cargo. Three quarters of the way into each journey you’ll hit a portal filled with tantalum and you have to carefully maneuver the ship around collecting the rare metal. This seemed slightly easier to achieve using the DualShock 4 controller as opposed to the Vita.

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Switch Galaxy Ultra plays identically on the Vita and PS4. The game automatically uploads your progress to the cloud after each level so you can easily pick up and play from whichever device you wish. You can also use the touch screen to move the ship from side to side, but I prefer to see the whole Vita screen rather than have some of it obscured.

Difficulty slowly increases as the game progresses to a point where going back and doing one of the first few levels is insanely easy compared to your first attempts. I’m amazed at the amount of depth this simple idea has and how finely tuned and great it turned out to be.

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Visuals:
A silky smooth sixty frames per second on both PlayStation consoles is an impressive achievement and with the PS4 having 1080p this little game looks great on either system. Tracks undulate, twist, loop, and arc around asteroids, space stations, and planets. With some insane speeds and stomach churning turns this game requires your full attention, blink and you’ll slam into a barrier. Lighting effects are also worth noting on both consoles with the PS4 edging into the lead with a degree of added detail.

As I mentioned before, there are intriguing visual distractions frequenting the landscape (or should that be spacescape?) luring your visual gaze away from the track. Not to mention the spectacular backgrounds awash with billions of stars and spiraling galaxies of purple and red clouds bursting out of the pure black darkness of space. Sadly you cannot appreciate the splendor of the universe around you as doing so puts your craft and cargo in jeopardy. It’s like walking around the Tate gallery but only looking at the floor.

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Humorous comic book pages relay the story of Vince Vance and add some meaning to your travels across the galaxy. You gradually obtain them after doing a chunk of missions and they can also be viewed from the main menu. Sadly I found it difficult to read on the Vita and couldn’t zoom in or out, as even a little would have helped. I must also mention the beautiful level select menu that can be found on both consoles, I would love to see a dynamic version of that become a PS4 theme one day.

Audio:
A nice collection of adrenalin pumping tunes accompany the intense speeds and twitch controls. Each track builds in speed as your ship gets faster before you realize it and the pace of both is intense. By the time you reach the portal at the last quarter of your journey the pace is electric. Your ship bursts through the gate, the track disappears, and the pace drops to a slow relaxing beat and you cruise through the weaving portal and catch a breath. Then suddenly you’re back onto the familiar winding track for the home stretch, and the music and pace is back as you hurtle toward your destination.

A very distinct female voice guides you in the game, teaching you about new things as they appear and mocking you if damage your craft. It isn’t a one-sided conversation either as your character usually has a witty reply.

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Online/Multiplayer:
You can host or join a Survival or Barrier match. Sadly I have found no way of inviting friend or foe to join you in a match, even when waiting in a lobby. It is Cross-Play and I have raced the same person using the PS4 and PS Vita with zero difference in gameplay. Your opponent(s) appear as a semi-transparent ship and can occupy the same part of the track. There were only a few people filling the leaderboards and hardly anyone to race against. For that reason I was only able to get one other racer in the lobby every time.

Conclusion:
Switch Galaxy Ultra takes a simple idea and runs with it at a blisteringly fast pace. Gorgeously crisp visuals and a very fitting soundtrack all combine with the highly responsive controls to make this a joy to play. If you just want a quick blast in the addictive Survival Mode or to lose hours in the story, this is one that’ll easily grab your attention. It plays fantastically on either the PS4 or Vita and has Cross-Save.

If you enjoy a fast paced twitch racer then Switch Galaxy Ultra is definitely one for the collection. Plus it’s Cross-Buy/Save and Play. What more could you ask for?

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

PS Vita Screenshots

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PS4 Screenshots

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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