Extra cheez with your extra cheese
My mom’s favorite pizzeria had a mobile oven that they would tow to catering events, ensuring your pizza was always fresh and hot. How could you outdo that? Build your pizzeria into a 10-story robot that leaps over traffic and knocks down buildings to make good on the promise “15 minutes or less.”
In a not-too-distant future the world is recovering from a war that began when Cheezborg, a restaurant animatronic with artificial intelligence launched an assault on all non-fast food. Pizza Titan Ultra, a mecha with a built-in restaurant that could simultaneously stomp evil robots and serve the best pizza in town, overcame Cheezborg and restored order and flavor to the world. But now, the forces of crappy food are back, and Pizza Titan Ultra must stomp tanks and swat helicopters while making the rounds and delivering orders. It’s a great lure for someone like me who ran home after school to sit on the living room floor and watch Voltron.
Though the concept is steeped in anime, its look and feel are entirely western. Breakfall are already known for Starwhal, the outer-space narwhal fencing game. Pizza Titan Ultra is a more ambitious project but they’ve brought a lot of their “awesome 80’s” flair to PTU. Our story is told through character portraits of an inclusive line-up of friendly cohorts, sporting the future fashions of 1985 but without big eyes or tiny mouths. Character dialog is accompanied by “simlish” babbling, which you either love or hate. I wish I could disable that audio since I find it distracting, especially when it overwhelms the groovy background jams.
That music was the first thing that grabbed my attention and, days later, has not let go. The theme song sets the stage for excitement and features sing-along lyrics that turn it into an absolute earworm. Other background tracks vary the mood to match the location and action of each pizza delivery mission. Funk, J-rock, and island influenced music, as well as tense film soundtrack cues round out the assortment.
The game plays on discrete levels; each an open map with multiple elevations, dense with pickups, buildings, and enemy troops. It’s a race against time with a big clock, top and center on the screen. Grabbing “temporal anomalies” adds time to the clock, extending the run. Dollar sign pick-ups and special ingredients earn cash but making door-to-door deliveries provides both time and money. Smashing enemies draws out more rewards and fuels special moves or weapons.
The story progresses through missions with set goals, such as collecting specific pick-ups, or destroying the required number of enemy units. Each level includes an open-ended Challenge mode to chase high scores and add to cash reserves. There’s a garage to visit between missions, spending cash on skins and updating the paint job. After a few purchases a new Ultra Move unlocks, like a laser to destroy enemies at range or a gravity well to pull in nearby pick-ups.
Despite the bright colors and frenetic energy on display, PTU handles more like a giant robot from Mechwarrior than a Gundam. PTU needs to run for a few paces before building up speed and air control during jumps is limited. There are upper and lower elevation attacks (frustratingly bound so that lower attacks are triggered by the upper button and vice versa) for dealing with ground and air-based foes. Learning skill attacks, like sliding kicks, becomes important early in play to counter specific enemies. Unfortunately, it’s easy to leap into the crossfire between cheez-mech flamethrowers and trucks spraying immobilizing cheez goo while fixated on the clock, leading to a frustrating slog to regain momentum.
Delivery calls come in from random buildings but I found myself ping-ponging back and forth through places I’d already stripped clean of loot. Taking a roundabout route and grabbing up more icons on the way seemed the most effective way to play. Cash buys access to new levels but missions only unlock in sequence. Challenge mode is always available though, so I jumped over a few missions to explore levels and add some variety when I got stuck.
Comedy beats dive deep into pop-culture. A Bob Ross lookalike praises the color balance of your toppings; Hip-Hop Hound offers a freestyle rap to please Parappa the Rapper fans; Senator Chun Leah delivers Star Wars adjacent quotes while posing for her Street Fighter II character portrait. There’s even room for a self-referential Starwhal mobster. You’ll either chuckle or wince repeatedly, depending on your stomach for puns and reference humor. I lost patience with Family Guy years ago, so I groaned more often than laughed.
I was delighted by Pizza Titan Ultra at first. Catchy music, bold graphics, and giant robots had me sold. After some cringe-inducing dialog with “parody-Captain-N” and too many booster jumps sabotaged by tractor beams however, my excitement waned. Pizza Titan Ultra doesn’t have enough reviews to have a set Metacritic average. My personal ranking is B: It’s worth the cost for a budget-priced amusement, but I wasn’t so compelled that I’d commit to mastering the peculiarities of the controls to reach for high scores.
Game software was purchased from the eShop by the reviewer. Art assets are from the Pizza Titan Ultra presskit.