Super Time Force Review
As we enter a new console generation, debating over 720p vs 1080p and frame-rates, quietly sitting all content with itself, away from all this noise is the ever growing indie scene. Full of glorious stories to tell and retro pixel-art that will make any gamer in their late twenties and beyond reminisce of ‘the good old days’ – where gamers had a ton of patience, playing some of the most difficult games ever created. Super TIME Force is game that feels so fitting to this era, yet it still manages to feel current, thanks to a game mechanic that wouldn’t have been heard of back in the day.
The game has you controlling an elite squad of Temporal Inevitability Manipulation Experts or T.I.M.E., lead by Colonel Repeatski, who after saving mankind in the game’s prologue, decides to use the team to travel through time and correct events what should not have happened, such as saving the dinosaurs from extinction. Because, you know, how cool would it be to hang out with some dino-pals if they didn’t become extinct, right?
If you couldn’t tell, the story is pretty far out there. It is however, brilliantly written and has the humour, feeling and look of a title that has been plucked from the library of Lucasarts in the 1990s. The story and dialogue between the Colonel and his crew brought many laugh out loud moments, and the glorious pixel-art style and animations enhance the game’s adorable appeal and humour throughout the game’s cutscenes. The Toronto-based developers have done well in building a game that is such a joy to experience all the way through until the very end, give or take a few frustrating retry moments, thanks to the game’s stand-out time-manipulation and character-duplication mechanic.
Each level in the game lasts for around sixty seconds, which can be extended, but not by much. Sixty seconds this doesn’t sound like a lot of time, especially when you think there are only six time periods, with up to four levels in each. If each lasted only a minute, that’s under thirty minutes of gameplay, tops! However, do not worry, as this is the Super TIME Force. We have a time manipulation device, yo!
With the press of the B face-button you can enter Time-Out mode, where time stops and you can fast forward and rewind all of your previous actions leading up to those precious sixty seconds allocated to you. You can enter Time-Out either manually, or if you have enough of your thirty Time-Outs left, it is triggered after the death of your current hero. The mechanic isn’t that much different to rewinding in Codemasters’ DIRT or Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport; however unlike those games, where all your past actions are redone, in STF all of your hero’s rewound antics still continue in time. This means that all your past actions and bullets remain in the game, leaving you to select any character and jump back in, with your past hero’s actions acting out as a kind of second player. It’s the perfect single-player, co-op game! – Huh?! I’ll let that sink in a bit…
One of the best uses of this mechanic is when you die. Rewinding time back you are able to either duplicate yourself or select a different character with different weapons and skills to destroy an enemy before they destroy your older self. Known in the game as ‘Teaming Up’, getting this right and killing the enemy that killed you earlier will save your past self, who in turn also becomes a power-up. Collecting your past powered-up self will add their own charge attack to your own, as well as being able to absorb an extra hit from any stray bullets. It’s a very interesting mechanic that opens up quite a few different possibilities in playing out each level and adds to the game’s replay value.
You start off with just three default characters: Jean Rambois, who has a three-way shot charge attack; Aimy McKillin, who has a laser rifle that that can pass through walls; and there’s Shieldy Blockerson, who can raise his shield to reflect bullets back at enemies and has a bubble force field charge attack that can protect your team inside from bullets. All three main characters complement one another and throughout the game you’ll be plucking each of them out from your character roster to make the best use of your sixty seconds. Progressing through the game adds thirteen more characters, each with their own special charge attacks and projectiles. Some of these unlocked characters are more helpful than others, however I soon had my favourite go-to characters.
Another addition to manipulating time in the game is with some of its collectables. Clox are small coin-like items that will increase your level time by ten seconds, whilst Shards can be located throughout each level, which once shot will activate a Matrix-style bullet time mode. Collecting these Shards can be critical to a level’s overall completion, and at times, with the amount of multiple fire flying around, hitting one of these Shards involuntary can be a common occurrence in the game, resulting in a frantic ‘I must make the most of this time’ moments in the game. Glorbs are another helpful collectible. Ten of these can be found throughout each level, and once collected, you’ll be rewarded with an extra Time-Out.
Overall, I had a great TIME hanging out with the Super TIME Force. Capy Games have created yet another masterpiece of gaming delight that would appeal to any gamer young and old. With a few hour’s worth of gameplay, some belly-fuelled laughs, a beautifully crafted art direction and a super chip tune soundtrack, I thoroughly recommend that you sign yourself up to the Super TIME Force and save them dinosaurs from their impending doom!