Pizza Titan Ultra (Switch eShop) Review
Pizza Titan Ultra caught my eye. This is a very impressive feat for an eShop game. The indie scene on Switch has never been hotter and games now need a ‘wow’ factor to stand out in the cluttered eShop. I basically judged my purchase entirely on the aesthetics in the screenshots. It’s not the best way to purchase games, but with such a heavy influx of games on the Switch, it’s a way.
Pizza Titan Ultra is a visual treat, there’s no questioning that. Bright colours and a cool aesthetic make for a game that’s a lot of fun to look at. The cel-shaded graphics compliment the art style and are the real selling point for the game. There is so much energy and life just from the choice of colours, locales and implementation of lighting based on time of day.
But while the visuals are appealing, you may quickly find yourself facing performance issues. As you progress in each mission the game drops more and more enemies on to the screen, all firing and all slowing the frame rate. While it was worse in Switch’s handheld mode, the docked mode saw heavy dips as well, but it was still my preferred way of playing the game.
Overall the story is pretty basic. You win a contest to pilot the mech for Ultra Pizza, the city’s best pizza. As you join the team you’re made aware of the evil Cheezborg who controls an evil army of evil. You must stop them. But what you’re really here for are the dorky parodies of classic 90s characters. From Goku to Scrooge McDuck to Carmen Sandiego, they cover a lot of ground with these quirky characters.
Missions, for the most part, involve performing a task for parody characters of pop culture icons. They deliver, but the preamble before missions feels exhausting. They try to do little back-and-forths between the characters but very rarely does it finish on a strong enough note to justify the time spent sitting through it. On top of this, I felt like the majority of these mission intros didn’t clearly cover why I was doing the mission objectives. There are 8 maps in the game, with 3 story missions per area and a free-play mode, where you try to collect enough trash for meaningless trophies under the clock. I felt a few of the maps were unbalanced, meaning if you didn’t head in the right direction from the start, you’d often find yourself really under the pump to complete objectives.
The missions themselves are all based on an objective requested by the game’s parody and original characters, all while under a tight time-limit. These objectives include collecting enough money, destroying types of enemies, making on-the-go deliveries or destroying buildings. You can increase the time by collecting clocks or delivering pizzas on the side of your objective. Unfortunately the delivering appears to be completely random. At times I’d run back and forth between two near buildings multiple times gathering more time on my clock, while in other instances I’d have to travel across the map if I wanted that extra time. On top of this, the bonus time seemed to be random, with some giving minutes of extra time while others giving less than 10 seconds. While this works for some types of missions, it made delivering pizza almost pointless, and I’d just collect the clocks for bonus time instead.
Once you’re playing the game though you’ll find yourself controlling a mech that has a bit of heft to it, that feels pretty good to control. I did often have troubles with judging vertical jumping and hovering into the sides of structures that I thought I was going to clear. When the core gameplay is designed around a ticking clock, being unable to judge jumps can hurt your experience. On occasion, you’ll find little humans on the map which you can interact with the play a pizza making minigame. While you’re doing it, the world around you still goes on in slow motion with the clock ticking down, meaning you’ll have to focus on both slices of the screen as you play. It’s actually a fun little addition that helps boost up your money count, and something that I would’ve liked to see expanded.
A variety of enemy types can be found in each map, some that deal damage while others can freeze you and leave you watching the clock whittle away. To take these out you have high attacks and low attacks which mixes up how you approach enemy types. As stated earlier, the amount of enemy fire on the screen can tank performance, but under the clock it often doesn’t make sense to take out these enemies. When it comes to groups of time freezing enemies or traction beam enemies you’ll often find yourself getting caught in fire again and again, as there’s no invulnerability period after getting free. It’s definitely a challenge, but not a fun time.
Your mech is customisable, with 90 parts to unlock throughout the game. While custom parts don’t directly improve your mech, collecting enough will unlock new super moves for your mech, which will greatly help you through the game. But once you’ve gotten a few super moves, you realise that it’s not really worth the effort — I think that even completionists would be hard pressed going through the motions replaying missions just to have all the mech parts.
The music throughout the game is decent, with futuristic inspirations combining with location themes such as cities and tropical islands. I got a lot of Ratchet and Clank vibes from the in-game tunes. However, the biggest selling point of the music was the game’s main theme; Upon booting the game you’re presented with an extremely catchy 90s-cartoon-esque theme song. I found myself often playing the tune in my head, driving a desire to return and jump back in. I think in terms of menu music, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Pizza Titan Ultra is a solid game. You can get a fair bit out of it if you’re willing to put in the time, but there’s a lot of games out there and this one is good for a break, though it’s not something you’d revisit. It definitely stands out in the crowd of indie titles on Switch’s eShop, and if you’ve got the money and are looking for a game it’s not a bad choice.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
+ Aesthetics are amazing
+ Unique sense of humour
+ Combat mixes itself up
- Gameplay loop has too many random elements
- Unrealistic amount of gear to unlock