26th Oct2018

‘Pizza Titan Ultra’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Rupert Harvey


With its generic wacky title (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms), let’s hope this fun little gem doesn’t get lost like a drop in the Nintendo eShop ocean. With its Wonderful 101-like isometric aesthetic, it is certainly eye-catching. It’s also craftily designed and well-balanced enough that its technical hitches don’t result in a critical shortcircuit.

Like a lost relic from the GameCube era, Pizza Titan Ultra is a vibrant, madcap arcade game where you run around in a building-sized mech, smashing things up and delivering pizza within a time limit. When it works – which it usually does – it makes for a wonderfully intense balancing act between destruction, navigation, avoidance and speedrunning.

The story is pure (melted) cheese. It’s been five years since the evil Cheezborg invaded Galactic City, and the residents have become used to his tanks and choppers and walkers making a nuisance on the streets. But they haven’t lost their appetite for pizza. You work for a company priding itself on always delivering within fifteen minutes – although in practice you’ll have much less time (sometimes a minute or less) to complete your objectives.

There are eight sprawling maps in total, and within each map are three missions, requested by a different colourful resident. The orders are very much specific to the individual, although the gameplay objectives themselves don’t change much: smash up a certain number of buildings or enemies, or collect a certain amount of money. Meanwhile, delivering pizza gives you a time boost, so you can potentially go forever. Once the missions are complete, you can enter into a free-roaming “Challenge” mode, which is all about survival and high scoring.

To help you on your way you have the ability to stomp, punch, jump, spin, dash and dodge. Further “Ultra Moves” can be unlocked later on. The controls feel solid; deliberately clunky yet responsive. Accelerating requires overcoming inertia, and the enemies have various tricks to stop you in your tracks. One UFO can freeze you in place, leaving you vulnerable to others’ gunfire; and spider-walkers will drag you agonisingly across the map with a suction ray.

The game runs fairly smoothly in the first few levels, but as the chaos mounts later on, the framerate suffers. There is also occasional stuttering, whether docked or handheld. Here’s hoping the developers can deliver a patch soon. (The loading times could do with a few seconds knocked off, too.) The collision detection can be a tad unreliable at times, possibly as a result of the fixed viewpoint – knocking a missile out of the air is essentially random.

Between levels there is a lot of banter, which can be a aggravatingly “quirky” and verbose, although it can be skipped if you feel it’s trying just a bit too hard. Your colleagues at the pizza parlour are nicely caricatured in a bold comic book style, and there’s a decent victory animation involving a rocket fist (as all victories should be celebrated).

Despite the niggles, it’s hard to dislike such a fun, irreverent and well-presented package. All that’s missing is a multiplayer mode – although I dread to think where that would have left the framerate.

Special mention should go to the musical score, which is a work of jazz-pop and electro-symphonic genius, like B-sides from Splatoon. We even get a vocal pop song over the title screen, complete with bounce-ball karaoke lyrics.

Pizza Titan Ultra is no classic, but it’s a compulsive arcade experience, with a delightful dedication to uncomplicated fun. It’s another example of where a Steam indie (it was released earlier this year) can hope to find a second wind on Switch. In this case it would be much deserved.

Pizza Titan Ultra is out on Nintendo Switch now.


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