The Insanity that is Super Time Force [Preview]
Insanity. That is the only word that comes to mind when I think of my experience with Super Time Force. The first time I saw it was back at PAX East 2012, and there were always so many people around the booth that I never got a chance to play it. Finally, a year later, I got a chance to try three levels from what was one of my most fun experiences at this year’s PAX East.
Super Time Force is a 2D platformer/shooter in the style of Contra, but with a few catches. First off, you only have 60 seconds to finish any given level. That being said, the levels aren’t easy, so don’t expect to be blowing through them in 60 seconds. As the title of the game might suggest, you do have the ability to manipulate time; not speeding up or slowing down, but going back and forth through it. Also, if you get killed (which you will… a lot) you can go back in time and start from a previous point before you died. The kicker with that, however, is that your previous self still exists. So now there will be more than one of you traversing the level at the same time; multiplying your carnage.
Your time ghost acts independently, performing the exact same steps you did on your previous life. If you manage to kill the enemy that killed you previously before it kills your previous self, you will get to reclaim the life that you lost before because now it never really happened (trippy much?). Another benefit of having your ghosts retrace their exact steps is that if you grabbed an item, like a time extension, your ghost will always go back and grab that item; leaving you to worry about or destroy other enemies.
With only having 60 seconds to finish the level you will need to go back in time and find more efficient ways to go through them. Also, having the ghosts helps you move faster because they always destroy the same enemies, leaving less to deal with each time a ghost is created.
There are multiple members of the Time Force; each with their own weapons and abilities. One member may have a machine gun, while another member has a sniper rifle, and another create shield bubbles. There are more than that, but those are just few examples.
Whenever you die you can choose from any of the Time Force members, allowing you to use their abilities together to traverse levels even faster. This comes in very handy against bosses. In one boss fight I started off using the guy with the machine gun and got killed with him a few times. Now I had a bunch of guys with machine guns, so I followed that by adding the guy that shot grenades.After he died a few times I followed up with the guy that can create shield bubbles that send bullets back at enemies. By the time I beat the boss there was a metric shit-ton of bullets and grenades flying across my screen -it was marvelous. I took a boss that was pretty strong and was able to wipe him out in a matter of seconds with the help of my ghosts. I’d pretty much thrown several kitchen sinks at him by the end of it.
Don’t get too comfortable with dying, however. There are a limited amount of lives, and once they are gone it’s game over. Like I mentioned earlier you can recover lives if you manage to destroy the enemy that killed you before, so make sure you look for that bastard on your way back through the level.
The preview consisted of three levels; each very different from each other. The first level was what I would come to expect from a platformer, in the second I had to jump from flying vehicle to flying vehicle, and the third took place on the back of a police truck (where I had very little room to move around and bullets were coming from all directions). I was glad to see the level of variety they offered in just this short demo.
I felt like a complete noob while playing. I pride myself on being good at games like these, but this game took me to school and told me I needed remedial courses. With the time-shifting dynamic you really are meant to die and create ghosts, but as I played I couldn’t help but feel I could do better. The game made me want to master it – to send it back to its developer with its tail between its legs with the message “NO! I don’t need remedial courses and I will be something when I grow up!” I love games that challenge me, and this is definitely one of those games. I’m highly anticipating it, and for any others like me that love to master difficult games, you need to keep your eye out for it.