|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Capybara Games|
|Pub: Capybara Games|
|Release: Q2 2013|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
At PAX East this year, I saw more interesting indie titles than I did AAA titles. One of the most interesting was Super Time Force. Super Time Force is a cool fusion of Contra and Braid that comes with a heaping dose of internet memes.
The simple plot of Super Time Force amuses. Your fearless commander wants to watch some funny cat videos, but his internets are too slow. So to save the world from video buffering, he sends you into the future to get all of the good internets and bring peace to the world. A great plan – except for the small fact everyone wants to kill you.
Super Time Force’s plot stands as an amusing diversion when compared to the revolutionary gameplay; a gameplay that combines Contra with time mechanics. Like Contra, your goal is to get to the end of a level, shoot up your enemies, and avoid the bullet hell that rains down upon you. Also, like Contra, you get many lives to toy around with (we know you entered the Konami code.) Super Time Force differs from Contra in that if you get a character killed, you can always go back in time to save him.
Say you choose a character and make it halfway through a level before being shot in the face. A boring person would just respawn a new character. You though, you are not a boring person. What you would do is rewind back to the beginning of the stage, use your new character to follow your fallen compatriot until he reaches the point where he loses his life, and then you would kill the thing that kills(ed?) him so that he won’t die. Doing this gets you back the life you lost.
Time isn’t just on your side, though. It’s also working towards your defeat. You only have a minute or so to beat each stage. You have to collect time-extension power-ups to keep moving forward. The only problem being that these power-ups take time to get, more time than they are actually worth. So what do you do? First, you send out a character to get the power-up. Then you rewind time to the start and this time play through the level ignoring it. When your past character gets the time power-up, you’ll get it as well, having wasted no time. This interesting method of collecting power-ups exemplifies just how cool Super Time Force can be.
Also cool is how the multiple characters in the game all have different abilities. The abilities of the characters range from the expected (charge shot) to the nifty (lightsaber wielder) to the just plain bizarre. Bizarre being a skateboarding raptor in a Hawaiian shirt. Yeah, you heard me. A lot of unique characters can be found in the game, too. They just need rescuing. And once you rescue them you can rewind time to the point of release and spawn them immediately.
You’ll be rewinding time a lot. Many of the game’s bosses actually require many characters to beat them. First of all, they have a ton of health and if you don’t have 5-10 characters focusing their fire on them, you’ll probably just die. Secondly, they fire out enough bullets to make Touhou Project jealous, so you will need to use a variety of defensive characters to make gaps in their firing pattern in order to keep your offensive characters safe.
The final cool feature of Super Time Force is the game’s ability to record everything you do during a stage. Like Super Meat Boy, which replays every single death you died, Super Time Force plays back your stage run. From the view of an outsider you watch yourself play the level from start to finish. Like I said, it’s cool.
A terrible reason lies behind me being so impressed with Super Time Force. That reason is that it was one of the only games at PAX I enjoyed playing. I understand the industry’s push for games that try to tell stories using deep, complex narratives, but sometimes games forget to include good gameplay with their great stories. It’s rare to see a game focus on enjoyable gameplay above all else like Super Time Force does. And it does it in spades.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: May 2, 2013