Switch Galaxy Ultra is a cross between endless runner style gameplay and the setting of a sci-fi racing game. The player controls a spaceship pilot named Vince Vance as you race across the galaxy, dodging obstacles, and collecting resources like credits and Tantalum. You’ll do lots of lane switching, boosting, and upgrading – that’s about all there is to it.
There isn’t much else going on. Switch Galaxy Ultra is a sequel to a PS Mobile game known simply as Switch, but this PS4/PSVita Cross-Save title offers little in the way of new experiences. While it may share the general gameplay elements of other popular games, it fails to innovate.
Each level consists of various different tracks your ship rockets across while you’re tasked with sliding left and right across the lanes. While doing so, you must dodge obstacles, hit booster pads, and collect credits that are used to upgrade and buy ships between levels. Within each level are free-movement space levels where you need to collect Tantalum orbs, which can be used to unlock new levels.
It’s an elegant and simple system that, for the most part, works well. It creates a satisfying gameplay loop that feeds into itself and keeps you playing to get further in the game. While there are only a few dozen unique levels in the Story mode, there’s also an addictive Survival mode and some multiplayer options.
Moving between tracks in a level is fast and fluid, but imprecise. On multiple occasions, I would switch lanes and be absolutely positive that I landed in the middle of a boost pad, but it wouldn’t activate. I could slide over landing in front of a barrier, but still have it register as a hit. And to make matters worse, the break periods of collecting Tantalum are even less accurate. Judging the depth of the zone and lining your ship up in the strange perspective is incredibly frustrating.
During levels, if you hit a barrier or some other obstacle, you lose Tantalum and damage your ship. Hitting obstacles is impossible to avoid due to the imprecise controls, and Tantalum is already difficult to collect for the very same reason. This creates a frustrating combination of elements that results in losing Tantalum nearly as quickly as it it’s gained.
Which is unfortunate because if it wasn’t for the annoying gameplay quirks frustrating me, I could take the time to appreciate the wonderful visuals and music. The action moves so quickly, it usually just ends up looking like a blur. Since it’s a Cross-Save title between the PS4 and PSVita, the game uploads your save file in between each level. This makes it really easy to pick up and play for quick sessions on your Vita, then invest more time on your PS4 at home.
Like other games that share these elements, the difficulty slowly increases over time. However, since collecting Tantalum can be such a precarious process, you’ll often have to replay levels multiple times just to progress further in the game. Interesting comic book scenes show the story, but they fail to really give you a purpose other than surface-level interest. I applaud the developer for at least trying to give some meaning to the “plot” but it’s never interesting enough to really hold my interest.
Switch Galaxy Ultra isn’t really a bad game. It gets quite challenging as you progress, the action looks great, and the overall concepts are well-realized. There are some truly entertaining portions here. Unfortunately, those are mostly overshadowed by the infuriatingly imprecise controls and lack of real motivation to keep playing. The steep price point also doesn’t help, as there is little here to really warrant the relatively expensive price tag.
This review is based on a digitally downloaded copy of the game for the PlayStation 4 provided by the developer.