You know, there aren’t enough dumb games nowadays. With so many titles concerned with building an extended universe or trying to actually say something meaningful, I feel like good ol’ fashioned dipshittery has been getting short shrift. Then I get the chance to play a game like Pizza Titan Ultra and it feels like there is a newfound balance to the Force. What else would you expect from a game where you play as hulking, pizza delivering, uber-mech? Don’t think about it too hard, because when it comes to expectations this is very much a case of less is more.
In a World…
Set in a fantastical future where pizza delivery is far more violent than you would expect, Pizza Titan Ultra is, above all things, an action game. The game stars what amounts to a Pacific Rim castoff, with a flair for culinary perfection. In fact, the entire pizzeria staff resides within the literal belly of this mechanical beast. All the while, an opposing force of evil bots are hell-bent on preventing these drop-offs from happening. Yeah, it doesn’t make a ton of sense, but what did I tell you about expectations earlier?
While the goal is to avoid causing destruction whenever possible, the poor customers are caught in the cross-fire of this dough-slinging turf war. Whole city blocks are reduced to slag in a matter of seconds, all in the name of delivering in fifteen minutes or less. Fortunately, it appears that each of the cities featured in the game have some of the most efficient insurance adjusters in history. No matter what is destroyed over the course of a battle, it is always back to normal when the next mission begins. Thank goodness for that too, because at the rate that residencies are being decimated it wouldn’t take long before no customers were left standing!
The main campaign consists of a combination of fetch quest, balls-out brawling, and time trials. There’s a perpetually running clock that results in an instant failure should it hit zero. Delivering pizzas and collecting the time clock extensions scattered throughout the map are the only ways to build up the buffer necessary to complete the primary objectives. This results in an interesting give and take, where there is a conscious choice between delivering a pie to build the time buffer or working towards completing the stage. The trick is that each delivery location is randomly selected on the fly, resulting in some drop-offs being mere feet apart, while others are on opposite ends of the map. It is a curious balance to strike that becomes a bit more straightforward over time.
Wave After Wave
As was mentioned earlier, there is an evil opposition attempting to interfere in every step that the Titan takes. The narrative explains more about the origins of these noisy nuisances as the campaign progresses, but the net takeaway is that they are annoying. I mean, REALLY annoying! Units could be as small as foot solders or as large as the Scarab quadrupeds found in the Halo franchise. Filling the gap between these opposite ends of the spectrum are trucks that drive all over the map, dumping sticky, melted cheese trails in their wake and several different varieties of airborne artillery.
These pesky troops start out light at first, but quickly escalate in concentration as a match ticks along. Eventually there are so many adversaries on the map than traversal beings it feels like wading through a bog of heavily-armed pains in the ass. It’s best to try and complete missions as soon as possible, because once the massive Scarab-like mechs make an appearance, it goes downhill rather quickly. Their tractor beams see to it that movement becomes a miserable experience.
Luckily, there are a handful of different attacks that can be employed to try and bat away this irritating cloud of locust. A standard punch can be used to dispatch medium height aerial enemies as well as most buildings and structures. There is also an overpowered stomp that will create an area of effect that destroys anything on the ground. Lastly, attempting to strike while airborne can result in either an aggressive dive attack or a helicoptering of the mech’s arms. The later of this duo is primarily used to eliminate crafts flying at elevated altitudes, unreachable by the standard punch. Additionally there are four different super abilities that can be unlocked over time, further adding a couple of additional wrinkles to each level.
A light narrative is used to string each of the thirty-two missions together. Each preamble features a one of a string of dollar store knockoffs characters with names like Chun Leah, Vegoku, and Planetman. In the name of avoiding potential litigation, I’ll let you connect the dots as to whose IPs are being robbed blind. The admittedly amusing dialog plays out through text bubbles, but if you are a nerd of the word like myself, you’ll find yourself chuckling along with the end-to-end pop culture lampoonery. The narrative is legitimately funny and very cleverly written. God willing, it won’t result in any lawsuits, but it is skating on some treacherously thin ice.
Been There, Done That
While the moment-to-moment gameplay is entertaining enough, it only takes a handful of missions to see everything that Pizza Titan Ultra has to offer. Yes, there are plenty of different objective types, but the problem is that these are just minor deviations to the unifying pizza delivery mechanic. There are very few instances where delivery isn’t the main focus. In addition, the enemy AI is damn near identical every round, with the only variation being the number of troops that show up over time. Eventually there’s an overwhelming number of adversaries on screen, which is when the gameplay takes a turn for the frustrating.
Another exasperating aspect of the design was the campaign progression system. You absolutely must complete the preceding mission in order to move on through the narrative. While this normally this wouldn’t seem that odd, there is the option to go ahead and purchase new locations to explore on the map. Instead of this unlocking another handful of missions, everything is still locked behind the progression wall. Why would they bother allowing players to open up new areas of the map if they can’t actually take advantage of them? It may have been better to steer players in the direction of the mech customization tool instead of allowing them to purchase useless chunks of real estate.
Technical issues also rear their very ugly head throughout. Once you’ve grown accustomed to how the uncontrollable camera operates, you’ll begin to see instances where the zoom used while delivering a pizza will remain locked in afterwards. This closely cropped perspective makes it damn near impossible to see what is going on, rendering progression extremely difficult. Also, there were at least a handful of occasions where were full stop lockups occurred, which could only be resolved by restarting the entire game from the PlayStation 4 dash. It’s hard to shake the feeling that given a bit more time, these rough edges will be buffed out through patches. However, as it sits at launch, these are problems that cannot be ignored.
As hilarious as Pizza Titan Ultra can be, it is a one-note experience. For those looking for a numb-minded button masher, there’s plenty of meat on this bone. If you can turn off your brain before firing up the game, you’ll enjoy yourself. Just know that the longer you stare at the screen, the more that the seams begin to show. Goofy shenanigans aside, your mileage may vary.
Pizza Titan Ultra review code provided by publisher. Version 1.0 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.