Pros: Nostalgic old-school feel, captures the series well, 70's episode
Cons: Not nearly enough moves, no real fighting system, little gameplay
Before there were Power Rangers, but after Godzilla there was
Ultraman. Ultraman was a "warrior of light" who came to Earth to stop
giant monsters from invading it. On his trip to Earth he had a little
driving accident that killed fellow pilot Hiata. To save Hiata's life
Ultraman gave him his life and with that the power to transform into
Ultraman. In that a new spandex wearing hero was created. Ultraman for
Playstation 2 comes from the original series which débuted in the late
60's in Japan and the 70's in America.
When you start the game, it has
clips to familiarize yourself with the story of Ultraman, just in case
you haven't heard it before. The intro has screen captures from the
original TV show, which look silly at worst and at best nostalgic. After
that you're thrown into a battle with a giant Godzilla-like monster. Of
course you have to fight it. Ultraman can deal out punches and kicks by
pressing the square and X buttons. Unfortunately, Ultraman can only do a
few basic attacks. His most advanced technique: a left punch followed by
a kick in the groin (does that even hurt monsters?). Punching and
kicking fills up Ultraman's special attack gauge. The special attacks
that Ultraman used to finish off monsters, like the energy rays he can
shoot from his hands, are all here. Normally, the special attacks dish
out more damage than any other attack Ultraman has. One blast with his
most powerful attack "Septum" can take off over half a monster's life
bar. On the other hand a smack to the nose might not even make a
noticeable dent. After a few fights you'll realize that the designers set
the game up so you fought like Ultraman fought in the show. In the show
Ultraman fought hand to hand as much as possible then at the last
possible second he unleashed some sort of laser attack. In the game
you'll spend most of your time smacking down an enemy just to power up
the special move bar.
Another annoyance from the TV show that comes into play is the "time
limit". See when Hiata got his powers from Ultraman he could only stay
Ultraman for three minutes. The game is no different. If you can't beat
a monster up in that time span the match is over. While three minutes
does sound like a lot of time, Ultraman doesn't do much damage. On top
of that when you're hit by an attack it takes forever for him to get up.
You have to rotate the analog stick and hit circle as fast as possible
to attempt getting up. While you're doing that a monster is breathing
fire on you or starting another attack to knock you back down. This
forces players to block attacks using the circle button, not to avoid
damage, but to avoid running out of time.
If Bandai did one thing right with this game is they did an awesome
job with the graphics. The transition into 3D feels flawless. Every
level feels like a cheesy Ultraman episode. Mostly because they did a
careful job capturing Ultraman's cheesy poses. For instance when
Ultraman begins a fight he raises his hand in the air in a macho pose
signifying he's ready to fight. The monsters even have a campy feel to
them, they have rigid action figure animation and have a plastic like
reflectiveness. On top of that all of the monsters look really good.
They look like giant action figures that are well animated. The
interactive environments are a nice touch. If you throw an enemy into a
building it's destroyed. Actually, when a monster gets thrown to the
ground a whole row of buildings are smashed to bits.
Bandai made sure to add to the nostalgia by reusing the poor sound
effects from the TV show. Of course the effects sound bad compared to
most other games. They barely sound real, but the capture the spirit of
the show, which was Bandai's intention. This mixes well with the mildly
dramatic score that accompanies monster fights.
Ultraman is all about the nostalgia. While the gameplay is defiantly
lacking fans of the series will get a kick out of playing out an
Ultraman episode in 3D. If Bandai can spend all of this work on
presentation why couldn't they make even a simple fighting system? You
can't help but expect more from such a superficially polished game.
Story and menus are in Japanese. Even though the controls are simple
enough to learn you're missing out on the game's key feature (nostalgia)
without knowledge of the series or Japanese.
The only Ultraman game released in North America was for the Super
NES and it didn't sell well enough to open the door for other Ultraman
The lack of gameplay and use of nostalgia makes this release for
fans of the series only.