STAFF REVIEW of Super Time Force (Xbox One)

Friday, May 16, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

Super Time Force Box art It is common knowledge that if we had the power to go back in time and change things, we probably shouldn’t, as who knows what the outcome would be in the future. The smallest change in the past could vastly change the present. Apparently the members of Super Time Force didn’t get this memo. If you’ve not heard of Super Time Force, it’s essentially a platforming shooter, akin to the days of Contra, but with an awesome twist; you get to control time and use it to your advantage. The quote on the official website for the game truly describes the game best: “Super Time Force isn’t what would happen if Braid and Contra had a baby: Super Time Force is what would happen if Braid and Contra had a party!”

Remember how difficult Contra was, even with the infamous code for 30 lives? What if when you died in the game, you could rewind time and try again, but the ghost of your previous attempt was shooting alongside you? That’s the premise of Super Time Force, and it’s an awesome single player co-op experience, if that makes sense. When you first play Super Time Force, it may seems like an 8-bit stylized version of Contra or Metal Slug, but once you grasp the time manipulation and work it for your advantage, the game plays completely differently than you might have expected.

In the 1980’s, Dr. Repeatski finally solves the puzzle of time travel, and almost instantly, he is confronted by Colonel Repeatski, the cooler version of himself from an alternate timeline. Because of time travel, America is overrun by angry robots and he puts together a squad of badasses to set things right again. Your goal is to erase events from history that were mistakes and make the world a better place for everyone. Your time travel abilities will be used to fulfil some silly goals, such as going into the 31st century so that Repeatski can obtain all of his browser updates and plug-ins so he can watch cat videos. Yes, you read that right.

Super Time Force is filled with comedy gold. With a nonsensical story, hilarious jokes, and puns so bad you have to laugh, the dialogue is hilarious and will put a smile on your face, as will fighting some of the unique bosses, and even some of the characters names like Jef Leppard and Shieldy Blockerson.

With each level, you’re only given 60 seconds and 30 lives to complete it. While 60 seconds sounds very short, they will play out longer than that with collectable +10 second pickups, and you’ll be rewinding time, quite a lot. 30 lives might seem like a lot for a whole level, but you’ll be using quite a lot of those just to make it to the end of each level in time.

When you die, or willingly end your life, you can rewind time as far back as you wish, from a few moments, to even the beginning of the level. When you do this, the characters life that just ended fights alongside you, replaying the exact path and shooting you just performed with them. So now you have double the firepower as before. Rewind time again and now you’ll have three of yourself playing alongside each other with a new run. Once you become well versed with the mechanic, you can send a character off to a corner or secret area to get a collectable, then rewind time and continue on like normal as your last ghost goes and gets that collectable as you progress forward, not wasting time. It does take a few levels to truly get the hang of it properly, but once you do it becomes a lot of fun using time travel to your advantage.

You begin the game with only three members in the Super Time Force; Aimy Mckillin, Jean Rambois, and Shieldy Blockerson. You can find extra characters throughout the game as you progress, each with their own special attacks and abilities. Using the right character at the right time is key to progressing through levels and making it in under the 60 second time limit. Many times you’ll even purposely rewind time, as you get to choose any character when you respawn and sometimes you need a different weapon for a specific situation. Using Aimy’s charged up sniper rifle can shoot through walls, or using Jean’s spread shot can take out many weak enemies. Finding the right combination of characters and weapon abilities for each situation is where much of the fun and strategy comes into play.

The Time Out ability is what makes Super Time Force stand out from other games and allows you to do the rewinds in time. Sometimes you’ll want to rewind just a few seconds before to correct a mistake, but other times you might want to purposely start from the beginning of the level to have more firepower from the beginning, as every time you use Time Out, the previous run plays alongside you. Teaming up with yourself becomes natural and you can amass quite a lot of firepower when multiple versions of you are all shooting alongside each other.

If you’re able to prevent a death of your past self (that you’re now playing alongside with), you can actually pick up them much like a collectable (because that version of yourself didn’t get any further, since that’s when you rewound…. Following?). If you save yourself, you gain an extra hitpoint and when you fire your weapon, it will be combined with the weapon the character you just saved as well. You can keep doing this for as many lives as you have if you really want a super weapon, especially for boss rights. You’re going to die a lot, but that’s half of the strategy, as having an army of yourself fighting alongside you becomes absolute chaotic fun.

While it’s fun to rewind time over and over, gaining more versions of yourself to fight alongside, doing the same section, or even level, over twenty times can feel like a chore at times. While levels seem impossible at first, not just with the time limit and enemies on screen, it becomes quite easy to roll through once you have a dozen version of yourself on screen at once. Because the levels are laid out in a specific pattern, you’ll learn each area and enemy, especially since you’ll most likely be repeating the same area over and over. It eventually becomes evident that you’ll pass a level no problem with sheer brute force rather than finesse, though there are a plethora of collectables, many very hidden and only show up when you remind time, for those that do want a challenge.

The awesome retro visuals and whacky humor will most likely grab your attention initially, but the core game mechanics is what makes Super Time Force stand out and become memorable. Even with its very short campaign, only a couple hours start to finish, I still recommend it, and hope that games of this caliber is what we’re going to see in the future with the ID@Xbox program.

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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