Capybara Games have released an old-school inspired shoot-em-up on the Xbox Marketplace that looks every bit like an enhanced 8-bit retro platformer, but there is a twist – the most important aspect of this game unlike conventional shooters is that you simply must die, die and die again! It does initially look like a throw-back to the past if you are old enough to have owned a Nintendo NES or SEGA Master System, however the mechanics and rules of simply running through and shooting the bad guys has been re-written where time itself has to be manipulated to help you complete every stage of the game.
The year is 198X and the Super Time Force team are tasked with visiting the past to save the Dinosaurs from extinction. It’s an insane travel trip that will likely have Doctor Who shaking with fear in his Tardis, as you simultaneously save the past, present and future from all the evil around you. With each level of the game set up as a platforming-puzzle you have a mere sixty seconds to reach the end, but doing an ‘obvious’ run through by running and shooting the enemies in front of you will not see you through. What at first looks like a piece of piss, will have you shaking your fist in frustration as certain doors will not unlock without clearing enemies, jumping between large blocks will slow you down and the far end of the level seems like it is miles away from you! When the timer runs out it’s a fail, you die and have to repeat the process all over again, but with your best thinking cap on.
The only way to play this game is to learn and get used to manipulating the aspects of time, as you play through the level you can rewind and fast forward, and re-play from any point so that you can go back and approach parts differently. This is the TIME-OUT feature and a requirement of completion; it is just like a video player only you can go back and kill an enemy before they kill you again, and additionally call in a new character to play alongside your past. Bit of a mind-fuck, but when you call in a new character you control the new character in the current-time as your other character in past-time is still shooting – it’s past and future doubling up to make the present time and how you use it can quickly get you through some tricky spots. This feature is especially useful for shooting at large enemies or blocks that need clearing with double shooting power, it also (more importantly in this game) saves you time!
So, now that you know dying is part of strategizing your gameplay where you die, rewind, die, die and rewind and try again – this allows you to think about the level and everything within it to make sure you get out of there in the quickest time possible. Only in TIME-OUT will you see floating crystals that when shot will add time or slow down time to your advantage. It is very hard not to play this like a traditional platformer by running, jumping and shooting, but believe me you will not get far past the first level with this frame of mind. Due to the nature of dying and rewinding the game can feel at some points repetitive and something I absolutely despise is the slow on-screen typing of dialogue – you just want to skip that shit!
The on-screen antics of everyone shooting at you with dinosaurs, robots and other futuristic foes after your balls can get a bit manic, but rewinding time is not the only answer to getting the best strategy as each character within the game has their own unique ability that makes them useful in heavy battle scenarios as you can have a shield, bazooka, sniper rifle, machine gun and Dinosaur at your disposal. A shield will deflect enemy bullets and can save you from almost anything whereas the weapons are separated by strength and range to suit what difficulty you are facing in the level. It can be a mix and match of characters and time control to aid you through the chapters. Super Time Force at times was hard-hitting-mayhem as the more on screen enemies appear, the more characters you need to drop on the level and then use time to your advantage. It can get messy and frustrating, but it will depend how much of a challenge you like because if you are only used to traditional methods of gameplay you will grow tired of this very quickly. I looked at the chapters as puzzles and the thinking process of completion because the objective of survival is about how you re-write your death.
Visually Super Time Force looks crap, but in the nicest possibly way as it is a crystal clear retro inspired look that fills your screen. It’s all in bright old-fashioned 2D graphics, but it works and comes across as an entertaining piss-take on the games of yester-year without hurting the eyes. Super Time Force is a quirky title that is fun to begin with before it grates on your patience. As much as you’ll love it, you’ll hate it for many other reasons. It’s an irritating, yet entertaining mix of bedlam and bullets with a zany eccentric cast of characters.
Refreshingly different and totally not to be taken seriously! Thank you to Xbox for providing the review code.
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