Video Game Review: Ultraman (Towards the Future)

In 1990, Tsuburaya teamed up with the South Australian Film Corporation to create a new Ultraman show, which was called Ultraman: Towards the Future. Or Ultraman Great. Or simply Ultraman. It depends on who you ask, I guess. It was only 13 episodes long and, from what I’ve read, mainly focused on ecology. To be honest, I've never seen the show. After playing the Super Nintendo game, I’m not sure I want to, either.

Welcome to your nightmare.
Ultraman: Towards the Future was released for the Super Nintendo in 1991 by Bandai. Weirdly enough, the box and label simply say Ultraman. I guess they asked the wrong person. Visually, it sort of resembles a 2D fighting game, but it definitely doesn't play like one. Once I had gotten a few rounds in with the monsters, it actually reminded me more of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. It’s more about pattern memorization than it is a fighting game like Street Fighter. The game takes place on a 2D plane, with a poorly animated Ultraman starting on one side and one of 9 poorly animated monsters on the other. During the fight (and on the title screen) the audio is full of really forgettable, sort-of Ultraman-sounding music and boring sound effects. Of note is the digitized “shuwatch” that plays every single time Ultraman attacks, which is cool the first time but gets more and more annoying every time after.

Every fight begins with Ultraman flying towards the screen.
As Ultraman, you have to punch and kick the enemy until their health bar diminishes to nothing. In a typical fighting game, getting the enemy health bar to nothing usually results in a win, but Ultraman Towards the Future is anything but typical. To finish the match, you have to use the Specium Beam to finish the monster off.
As the fights go on, a power meter fills at the bottom of the screen. The meter is separated into 4 parts, each part corresponding to a special attack. The finishing attack is, as you might guess, the fourth level attack, which requires you to expend your whole meter. While this gameplay mechanic might sound like a smart way to mimic the pacing from fights found in the show, it’s marred by a few huge problems. The most important of which: the bar fills at a despicably slow pace. 

Repeatedly jump-kicking seems to work for the first few fights.
Each fight is appropriately limited to three minutes, but most of this is spent waiting for your power bar to fill. Using the first three special attacks become totally worthless, because you never end up wanting to wait any longer than you have to just to finish the battle. This is made very clear when you realize the enemies have recharging health, and if their health is any higher than zero, your Specium Beam will go to waste. All of this wouldn't necessarily be a problem if Ultraman’s standard attacks were functional in any way, but their limited range and lack of damage make Ultraman out to be a total wuss. Often times the monsters’ attack range outmatch Ultraman’s, meaning the standard attacks are completely worthless and you’re required to use the special attacks just to inflict damage. The combination of the slow meter build, high meter costs, and often pointless standard attacks make this game more frustrating than fun.

Ultraman can't even duck to avoid attacks.

You know, there was a good idea here. In theory, the meter and finishing move would really help the game stay true to pacing of an Ultraman fight. However, in practice, the game is a rushed mess that’s disappointing in all regards. The music and sound effects are lazy and uninspired, the graphics and animation are as smooth as a hot knife through a brick wall, and the whole game is simply grating. While the appearance of an Ultraman-themed fighting game may be enticing, you’re much better off sticking to real fighting games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. However, if you really want to put yourself through this, Ultraman is not a hard game to find nor is it worth much, so finding a copy for dirt cheap really isn't hard. I think I paid maybe $6 for my copy and that came with the box and manual.

Ultraman: Towards the Future gets 1 out of 5 stars.

.… Oh, I guess I should introduce myself. Hey, I’m Derachi! I’m a friend of CCLemon99. You may know me from Twitter, or maybe even my Youtube channel. While I love tokusatsu more than most, my number one passion is video games. Specifically, games from the 80’s and 90’s. When Lemon mentioned accepting guest articles for his blog, I couldn't help but throw my hand up and volunteer to write about when my two biggest passions cross paths. This is my first (hopefully of many) toku game review, so please keep an eye out for more in the future. And hey, they can’t possibly get any worse than Ultraman, right?


  1. First Guest Blog. Nice.
    Interestingly, in Japan, they released the similar game under the title of just "Ultraman" (ウルトラマン) for Super Famicom. It's essentially a same game as this one, except they replaced Ultraman Great with original Ultraman, along with the monsters, featuring Bemlar, Red King, Gomora, Zetton, etc.
    (Since it's identical to this game, game play is still lousy BTW).

    I remember seeing negative review on YouTube few years back.
    A lot of video game critics bash this game as one of the worst game of SNES.
    It's that bad. lol

    Regarding the show, it's available on hulu (not on DVD unfortunately), so if you have time to spare, feel free to check it out.

    Good job Derachi. Looking forward to see future reviews.

  2. Thanks! I have a handful of other games lined up, ready to go. I don't want to spoil anything but the next game is getting reviewed so I have an excuse to listen to it's AMAZING music. Maybe I've said too much...