Super Time Force Review
Written Thursday, May 15, 2014 By Richard Walker
Time travel is a tricky business. Even the slightest change to the past could have catastrophic repercussions on the present and future, altering the space-time continuum irreparably, causing the world to explode or something. Super Time Force has no such preoccupations, transporting the motley squad to a number of locations in the distant past and far flung future, with little thought for the consequences of their haphazard actions. As a result, Super Time Force is one of the most freewheeling, fun and manic games we've played in some time, and it's one that's genuinely laugh out loud funny.
Super Time Force's core concept initially seems overly complex, but it's brilliantly explained in the opening tutorial, which mercifully keeps things short and sweet. Once you get to grips with the time-bending insanity, Super Time Force's system of chronological fiddling soon becomes second nature. A shooter reminiscent of Metal Slug or Contra, STF's twist is a smart one, encouraging careful strategy over mindless blasting.
Back to the future, where time police patrol the skies.
Wielding the ability to 'Time Out' and rewind time before resurrecting as one of several characters, each with their own abilities, STF sees you begin each stage with a timer and a generous, yet limited number of Time Outs, and once they're expended or the clock runs down, it's game over.
Managing your Time Outs and completing each level before the timer elapses is what it's all about, which means deploying the best character to cover all the angles. STF begins with just three characters to master, with Jean Rambois, Aimy McKillin and Shieldy Blockerson offering machine gun fire, ricocheting bullets, and bullet deflection respectively, before rescued characters like grenade launcher toting Jef Leppard, lightsaber wielding Lou Don Jim, Zackasaurus the dinosaur, little boomerang chucking Cleo, Merlin the wizard, and farty poo monster Squirty Harry add more abilities to choose from.
Shifting time doesn't change anything you've already performed before dying or voluntarily rewinding, so Super Time Force's levels quickly become a chaotic canvas consisting of projections of your multiple past selves, blowing up robotic enemies or dying unceremoniously. Dying isn't for naught, however, as your current character is able to absorb the projection of a dead character, temporarily adopting their charged ability until you take a hit.
Welcome to Medieval times!
Boss battles prove to be the purest expression of Super Time Force's gameplay, as you systematically pick them apart with dozens of your past projections bounding around the screen, each concentrating on a specific part, if you've executed your plan properly.
You'll also find that boss encounters prove to be the game's most challenging wars of attrition, demanding rewinding and replaying the same battle over and over as you chip away at their health, little by little. This can occasionally prove massively frustrating, especially if you spend the time setting up all of your past efforts only for it all to amount to nothing, after a protracted build up.
Thanks to its unique gameplay hook, however, Super Time Force is so much more than the sum of its parts, transcending the label of 2D shooter. You'll quickly understand why it's a resolutely single-player game, its time-based meddling system being something of a potential shitstorm with multiple players getting in on the action. STF's time-jumping shenanigans add a welcome tactical layer to the robust retro shooty bangs, and with bullets flying left, right and centre, it's a nice change of pace when dying isn't really penalised as such. You need only rewind and send another member of your force onto the battlefield, while your past versions run around carrying out your previous actions.
It's not without its problems however, with punishing one-hit deaths feeling somewhat unfair when you're struggling to aim diagonally. A button to hold you stationary while firing might have helped alleviate this problem. Of course, your team is supposed to be expendable, each fulfilling their various roles against an army of enemy aliens, robots, dinosaurs, knights or whatever, though a seemingly random death while caught up in a maelstrom of bullets and explosions is still irritating.
Boss battles are long, drawn-out affairs. Still fun though.
Slow motion 'Shard' power-ups and collectibles also encourage you to return to levels in a bid to ace them, while finishing the game unlocks a 'super hardcore mode' to tackle. If it's 1000 Gamerscore you're after, a playthrough of super hardcore mode isn't required; simply completing each level and grabbing all of the collectibles will do the trick for the majority of achievements. The rest come with performing various objectives with specific characters, making for a nicely varied list that gives up a nice chunk of Gamerscore for simply enjoying the game.
Boasting an energetic, humorous storyline that breathlessly bounces from one time period to the next, packing in movie references and other sly nods, Super Time Force oozes charm and personality from every one of its blocky pixels. Its time-jumping twist makes for a genuinely interesting blend of side-scrolling shooter and strategy, even if it can become a little overwhelming at times. Super Time Force really is a blast, and well worth your time.
Nice and crunchy chip tunes can't fail to elicit feelings of pure nostalgia, while the sound effects also fit the bill.
It doesn't exactly push the processing power of Xbox, but Super Time Force possesses more charisma than most photo-real AAA titles. STF looks glorious.
At times frustrating, STF is practically an unbridled joy otherwise, the game's time manipulation concept meaning that strategy wins out over haphazard shooting. On that front, Capy's game is a bit like Contra, which is a good thing.
A time-hopping single-player campaign through the years 198X, 188X, the Medieval era, prehistoric times, the future and beyond, STF is an entertaining romp in which you screw up the space-time continuum. There's a good 5-7 hours on offer, while an unlockable super hardcore mode, collectibles and obtaining medals adds a nice bit of replay value.
One part conventional to one part vaguely interesting, there's a nice mix of challenges here. It's not the most difficult list to complete, but it'll encourage you to experiment and revisit what the game has to offer.
A retro-style shooter that's both funny and fun, Super Time Force's temporal twists and turns are what make it well worth playing. It's unlikely you'll have played anything with the same kind of unfettered energy either. It's time you gave it a go.
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