URG (Utopos Rocketship Game) is also known as Guntech on the Atari VCS, and programmer Jani Penttinen has remade it from his original Atari ST game from 27 years ago, back when it called Utopos.
All caught up, the levels start early on in the game in a straight-forward manner, flying about from A to B, picking up coins, but your shield wil reduce if you crash into the sides of most parts of the scenery, or getting shot by baddies, so before too long, you can collect shields to boost this.
Most baddies aren’t too troublesome, but there were some red mosquito-type creatures which, once they begin to let rip, you’ll never hear the end of it!
What the coins allow is to buy upgraded weapons to blast the baddies, but then I didn’t really notice any difference between the few I tried, as I was just constantly shooting while trying to stay alive.
After most levels, the game tells you that you’ve discovered a new alien, which takes you to a series of honeycombs on a separate screen, one is now showing as waiting to be opened, and when you do, it gives you 100 coins for it, along with some info about the alien. However, as you’ll see from the gameplay, about halfway through the game, I then couldn’t see any unopened segments when it told me there were some to open. As a result, I didn’t open any more.
My main problem with this release – which Jani has addressed and I’ll come to – is that in this state, it feels unfinished. As the game came out on the Atari VCS, the version on PC/Steam was still in Early Access – a time when elements are still being added prior to the final release, so when the official release happened, I would’ve expected it to be the final version. However, while most worlds have 7 or 8 levels, I came to world 4 (Space Jungle) and after just three levels, that world was over, followed by a message saying that more levels will be coming, and to keep the game updated on a regular basis. If you use Steam, then games update automatically unless you’ve switched that option off.
At the time of playing through this, the sound effects for the items like the end-of-level stars are were still to come, but if I was a programmer, I would’ve put a stand-in effect if that’s possible, such as something already used in the game. However, Jani confirmed this was something to be added.
Once thing you’ll notice from my gameplay is that, along the way, I accidentally set it from ‘normal’ to the ‘kid’ (easier than ‘easy’, I understand) difficulty. Not sure how I did that, but it meant I wasn’t damaged by hitting the scenery, and the enemy ammo damage was halved. I would like such a game to have an easy, normal and hard mode, though, rather than just two.
When I’ve said during the gameplay how it feels like it has been ‘released in bits’, Jani explained:
- “My plan is to keep releasing new content for a long time and even though you pay a price to get a “full” game, and I think you already get a full game’s worth of gameplay. I don’t think the game will even be ‘complete’; it’s an ongoing adventure that will keep getting better over the years to come. I’ve built the core of the game to be very much extensible, so that it allows for completely new types of ships and weapons to be added later on. I guess the traditional thinking would be to release a game, and then work on a sequel, but I feel I want to feed the current players more content frequently rather than spending another couple of years creating the next episode. At some point I will release the in-game level editor (which I am using to make these levels) so players can create and share their own levels as well (but not quite ready for that yet).”
At this point in its life span, for me overall, URG (Utopos Rocketship Game)/ Guntech is fun for 2-3 hours, but then I mainly just played through it without delving deeply into studying aliens I discovered, and so on.
URG (Utopos Rocketship Game) / Guntech is out now on PC/Steam.
Overall (at the time of release): 6/10
- Developer: Jani Penttinen
- Publisher: Utopos Games
- Players: Single player campaign
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.