Have you ever wanted to correct that critical mistake you made? Sometimes it could be that you decided to go the hazardous way when a much easier path was available. It might be saying something ill-advised that cost you dearly. Super Time Force is on the surface a standard shooter platformer from the retro years, but its time travel mechanics are innovative enough to make it stand out. However, does it have a fruitful future?
Presented like a Saturday morning cartoon, Super Time Force‘s story has catchphrases, time puns, and a ludicrous enough premise to boot. You are presented with an intro stage set in the year 198X, where a nefarious Dr. Infinity has sent his robot army to take over the world. As part of Commander Repeatski’s Super Time Force, you must not only stop Dr. Infinity, but also change history to be more awesome. References to classic movies like Mad Max and The Fifth Element are everywhere, though sometimes the cult references could be within the characters unlocked themselves such as the wonderful Dolphin Lungdren. It’s silly, yet it works so well, oozing character with its goofy nature and 8-bit presentation.
Gameplay is your standard run-and-gun platformer, but you have multiple characters that you can be. Each one has their own standard and charge shot mechanics; for example one character can shoot bullets that bounce of walls or a charge shot that passes through them, while another has a grenade launcher that when charged becomes a more powerful rocket launcher. With plenty hidden throughout the six timelines or as rewards for gathering the collectables, the replay value on each stage is high.
Super Time Force is not your standard platformer however, as you are able to rewind/fast forward time to spawn in another character. Should your actions save a past self, you can “collect” them to gain one extra hit point and a limitless number of charge shot abilities to add to your own. You can abuse this by purposefully killing characters off to spark time travel, only to save them to reap the rewards, but with only a finite number of resets available, there’s a limit to how silly things can get.
Levels are fairly taxing, especially towards the later stages, but you can just a reset just to explore a different area off the beaten track. You can also slow down time briefly after rewinding by shooting irregularities, which can also be manipulated by shooting at them earlier than your previous self. It might be a recipe for a particularly bad paradox, but the gameplay ideas featured are wonderfully executed and hugely fun to play.
After six stages and a final area that’s somewhat similar to Mega Man games, it’s all over. Some might say this is a shame, but then you discover “Super Hardcore Mode”. This injects some much-needed peril into your gameplay by locking out dead characters, requiring you to save your companions. It doesn’t make the game itself any more difficult by adding more enemies or strengthening them up, so it eases you in to the challenge. The overall game is still short on new things to throw at you, but at least there are multiple challenges for those who want them.
There may not be a lot to say about Super Time Force, given that it is a very short experience with limited replay value, but it is a very good time with slick mechanics and a wonderful sense that everything you do contributes to the overall progression. Those little replays that summarise your playthrough of a particular stage/boss fight are the icing on the cake. They showcase just what you did, which you can share to the world. Elegant gameplay is what ultimately sells the concept of Super Time Force. If you own a Microsoft console, you should think about enlisting.