For those of you old enough to remember anime style cartoons back in the 80’s, you’ll probably recall Voltron: Defender of the Universe. The show followed a group of five soldiers, assigned to the Voltron Force, in a futuristic setting. It was their duty to defend their sector from any and all evil forces that endangered the safety of their planets. These five soldiers each had Urban Assault Lions, which are mechanized lion vehicles, that could be used as five separate vehicles or could be combined to create Voltron, the ultimate fighting machine.
You can choose to play solo, local co-op with one other person, or online co-op with up to four other people. The online community isn’t very busy, but we did find online games without too much waiting. Your score is tallied as you play, and leader boards are available to see how you stack against other players around the world.
The game has you playing as one of the five lions, in a top down, twin stick arcade style. Each lion has different characteristics. Some are great for up close combat, while others can hit enemies farther away. Their durability varies as well, and team work becomes important if you are playing on the harder difficulties. The game is split up into three planets, with four levels each. The first three levels will have you manning your lion and taking on ground and air forces. The left stick controls movement while the right stick controls your main weapon. You also have a boost attack and a pounce attack. Pounce attacks are a great deterrent against air vehicles annoyingly flying and dropping mines around you. The boost attack is also useful for slamming into tanks. There are a few pickup boosts in the game that give you more blasting power and tougher shields, but you’ll wish there were more.
Each planet has a boss level at the end, and this will have you combining your five lions into Voltron once you have taken the boss down a notch. As the Voltron assembly animation plays, you can earn bonus points by pressing on the left stick in quick time fashion, and the direction required is displayed on the screen. This has no effect on the actual game other than points. Boss battles are all turn based, quick time events. If you are playing co-op, one person is randomly selected to choose which attack of Voltron’s to use, while the other players just watch. Your defense against the boss is also a QTE. Finally you’ll “Form Blazing Sword” to strike one last blow to slice the boss in half.
The story is fairly short, and if you go it alone you can probably blow through it in a couple hours. There are collectibles in the form of pieces of stars and groups of civilians. For every 5 star pieces you collect, you’ll earn an extra life. Lives are not unlimited, you’ll only have five to start with, and are shared online, so these star pieces can be important. There is also a trophy for saving 100 groups of civilians, so completionists will want to save all they can until they reach that plateau. Completionists will also want to finish the game with each lion for that trophy as well.
The graphics for the gameplay are typical for most top down shooters of this nature. They aren’t terrible, but they aren’t the best either. Cut scenes for the story use what looks like original cartoon footage, and look accordingly retro. That gave the game more of a classic feel and didn’t take anything away from the over all experience, even though the graphics looked like they belonged in the 80’s.
Voltron: Defender of the Universe is a great little game that can burn up more than a few hours of your time. There is an option for downloadable content from the main game menu, so the developer is thinking ahead. The $9.99 price tag seems a little high due to the short story, but if future DLC were to be free, or minimally priced, the price would fit better.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
– Very short story
– Mediocre price unless future DLC is free