Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
Original released to the Xbox 360 and One as Super Time Force, Capybara’s time traveling side scrolling shooter was pretty well liked. Now re-released for the PC and a few PlayStations, does this goofy shooter manage to entertain or should you not waste the time on this one?
After Doctor Repeatski invents time travel, a futuristic version of himself warns him that he’ll destroy the world. Luckily the future version has also brought along a squad of bad ass super soldiers called the Super Time Force and now they must stop Dr. Infinity’s robot army from destroying everything. Also they need to save Atlantis, save the dinosaurs, and mess with time in all sorts of other fun ways. It’s not important to the game overall, but there’s enough jokes that Super Time Force Ultra kept me smiling. That said, the occasionally overly long cutscene started to grate on me after a while, and kept me from getting back to the shooting.
Super Time Force Ultra has a nice pixel art style that works decently for the game, yet there were times the amount of objects on screen at once got overwhelming. Backgrounds look pretty good, though I had difficulty finding some hidden characters due to it. The game goes over a wide expanse of stages that are creatively different enough to be worth looking at, and I never felt like I was trudging through the same environment twice. Even the different levels on each stage looks different enough to be unique. The game’s chiptune soundtrack fits it well enough, but none of the tracks are really overly impressive or memorable in anyway, and I even found some to be kind of annoying.
Super Time Force Ultra really lives on its entertaining gameplay mechanics. Each stage is full of various dangers that want nothing but to stop the Super Time Force. At the start of each stage I could select one of three characters to play as, though I would unlock more throughout the game and by the end I probably had closer to 12 to pick from. Each character had two attacks: an uncharged and a charged attack. Some characters had charged attacks that were just more powerful versions of their normal attacks (for example, one character’s normal attack was a shotgun shot, while the charged attack was an extra powerful shotgun shot), while others are radically different (one character’s normal attack is just a bite, while the charged causes them to spit acid). Experimenting, figuring out what characters do, and finding the best situations to use them was a key part of the gameplay.
Yet stages are often too difficult to beat with just one character, and this is where the game’s big defining feature comes in. Anytime one of your characters dies in combat, which is often as characters die in one hit, you can reverse time and pick a new character to play as. Then the ghostly outline of the dead character will repeat all the actions you took before, while you control the new character. Know exactly which robot is going to kill this character? Well if you manage to off that robot before it re-kills the character you can then save the character, getting a life back and powering up your current character. Reversing time does more though, revealing shards that can be destroyed to cause you to enter slow-mo. It’s a really cool mechanic that makes Super Time Force’s gameplay really stand out.
The game is rather generous with this mechanic as I entered each level 30 lives and often left with even more than that. Completing the game (which can be done in about 4-6 hours) does unlock a hardcore mode that makes it so I can’t reuse characters if they get killed, but overall I didn’t have too much of a problem getting through stages. That said, some stages did get rather frustrating and I felt like I was just throwing myself at brick walls until I managed to get enough bullets at it to break it. Boss fights in particular had me feeling like this: often little strategy mattered other than hitting them with everything I could until I ran out of time, resetting, and doing it again until they died.
There’s no multiplayer in the game, which is a bit of a shame yet understandable considering the mechanics. Upon completion, besides the hardcore difficulty, I could replay levels in an effort to get all the various collectibles available in each. There also was a challenge mode called the “HellaDeck” that had 50 challenges that required me to use the various team members in unique and interesting ways. It’s a good idea, but not one I had much interests in doing for long.
Super Time Force Ultra isn’t a fantastic game, but it is one that has quite a bit of potential. It can easily be enjoyed by anyone who is into the genre and should at least be checked out by anyone looking for something new to play. Hopefully the formula will continued to be improved over… time.