Hands-on with Switch Galaxy Ultra

Changing lanes, taking names

Hands-on with Switch Galaxy Ultra

After missing its original release date of November 2013, Switch Galaxy Ultra is scheduled for release soon.

I asked the chap from Atomicom showing me the game when I went hands-on with it recently "how soon?"

And though he wouldn't spill the beans and reveal an exact date, I did get a tentative "July" out of him.

July is good for me: it's after E3 and PG Connects, and any plans I've made for that month can be rescheduled.

They'll need to be, mind, for having now gone hands-on with the game, I can see myself sinking a bunch of time into this fast-as-hell futuristic racer.

I'm a big fan of WipEout, so anything that looks vaguely like games in that franchise has me interested immediately.

But while Switch Galaxy Ultra is definitely of a similar ilk to that legendary series, it's doesn't directly crib on its style as much as, say, Flashout 2.

It's the future. You pilot a craft. Said craft goes very fast. The music is electronic. There's a light narrative here for those that want it.

But that's about where the similarities end, for the core gameplay of Switch Galaxy Ultra is quite distinct from the air braking and track memorisation for which WipEout is known.


Instead, you see, this is a lane dodger, taking its inspiration from classics such as Dodge 'Em, and auto-runners like Running with Friends. There aren't any corners to turn here. And there's no great emphasis on weapons to master.

You have an ever-changing number of lanes along which you can glide, each dotted with gates. If you make contact with a gate, your craft slows, and your chances of making it to the end of the course in the required time diminish.

To avoid this happening, you change lanes with a press of the D-pad or you pick up a special glowing orb that enables you to pass through a certain quantity of gates without penalty.

It's a simple setup, then. But as the pace and difficulty of each course increases, you find yourself needing to really concentrate to make it through each stage unscathed. I played a fair few levels in the first third of the game, and even here your craft is zooming along at a fair old rate.

When not racing, you're upgrading the stats of one of the six player ships available, and plotting your route across the galaxy map's 55 tracks.

There's a handsome digital comic book that accompanies the title, and it ties in with the ultra-light but entertaining-enough narrative here for racing fans who want a little more drama with their driving.

In tune

In terms of presentation, the soundtrack is apparently set to be all EDM, but I wasn't able to check that out at the time of the preview. Likewise, some of the visual effects, such as lighting niceties that have been promised, weren't implemented in the preview build.

Even without the spit and polish, though, Switch Galaxy Ultra looks strong. It's important in games like this that the frame rate stays at a solid speed, and that its draw distance is long. We can confirm that it does and it is.

July, then: make sure you've set aside some time for Switch Galaxy Ultra. It's fast, it's pretty, and it's looking likely to be very, very good indeed.

Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.