Super Time Force Review (Xbox One)
There's never enough time in the day to get everything you need to get done finished. When you've only got one minute to save the world from a robot invasion, the odds seem absolutely insurmountable. Unless you're the Super Time Force and have the unique ability to shred holes through time and space.
At first glance, Capybara Games' Super Time Force appears to be nothing more than another quirky side-scrolling shooter. You've got a handful of characters, all with different capabilities like shooting bullets or shooting grenades. You've got your colorful worlds filled with evil soldiers and big, bad bosses awaiting you at the end of each section. So far, sounds pretty familiar. However, there are some really cool elements that push Super Time Force from rote to ridiculously fun, one of which just so happens to be a skateboarding dinosaur.
As mentioned, the various crazed characters in Super Time Force all have specific abilities differentiating them from the rest of the pack. While the default troops (Jean Rambois, Shieldy Blockerson and Aimy McKillin) all offer fairly standard shooting powers, other unlockable characters help bring a fresh dynamic to the mix. Whether it's the radical skating prowess of Zackasaurus or the mystical manipulations of Merlin, every member of the STF adds new ways to dispatch foes, which in turns adds new ways to strategize your approach to any given level. Strategy might not seem important when the basics boil down to aim, shoot, kill and move, but knowing how to approach a given stage is key when you consider the time limit.
Sixty seconds. That's how long you have to save the world. It's a daunting task, and one that surely seems completely improbable when attempted solo. But what if you had some help? What if that help was you? Using the Super Time Force's Time Out, you can jump back in time at any point during a level, spawning from your last living counterpart. You can be reborn as any member of the Super Time Force available in your roster, and then you'll be fighting alongside your past self up to the point where he/she died or you hit the Time Out button. You have a limited number of Time Outs to use on any given stage, though more can be earned on a level as well, but if you're skilled enough, there's a chance you could have a dozen or more variations of yourself fighting through the game all at once.
If it sounds like it might be distracting, it is a bit at first. Once you grow accustomed to filtering out whose bullets are whose, and which version of you is actually under your control at that time, the game comes into focus like the Matrix does to Neo at the end of the first film. You start seeing opportunities in a stage you never saw before. Ostensibly, you could start a stage with one character, take him/her nearly to the end, eliminating foes all along the way. Then, you could hit Time Out, rewind all the way back to the beginning of the stage, spawn another character, and run through gathering the various collectibles, too. When you rewind, you get all that time back, too, so that minute becomes two, and so on and so on. Just with two characters, you begin to see how many possibilities there are available to you.
Of course, making it through a given stage with just two characters is a pipe dream, as you're going to die, and you're going to die a lot. While enemies require a small barage of bullets, you fall after just one hit. Death isn't punishment in Super Time Force. Death is an excuse to try again with the knowledge of what your future holds. Perhaps you rewind a bit back, spawn before you died, and save your other self from the abyss of cold darkness. In that case, you can then absorb that teammate from the timestream, and earn his/her special ability to add to your own. Absorption also gives you a shield, so you have the chance to survive just a bit longer. It's a really great tactic to use, particularly during boss battles, and adds another layer of depth to the combat.
More often than not, we found ourselves using around ten or twelve different characters to make it to the end of a stage, where we'd then get as far as we could in a boss fight before rewinding to add another hero to the fold. Where at first beating a boss may have seemed impossible within the time constraints, you can turn even just ten seconds into an eternity with Time Outs. It's empowering and a wonderful feeling to overcome the burden of time with such ease. Don't make the mistake of thinking things will be a breeze. It's quite the opposite in fact. Some of the levels will give you fits until you work out the proper playthrough, but when you do, it's a euphoric moment.
Super Time Force may not look like a complex shooter that's full of depth, but as that old adage goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Most of those words are going to be expletives when playing STF, but cursing at a game has never been more enjoyable. When you add in the stellar chiptune soundtrack, loads of replayability and a silly narrative packed with sophomoric charm, it's easy to understand why we've been making so much time to play Capy's Super Time Force. You should, too.
This review was completed using a purchased download of Super Time Force for Xbox One.