REVIEW – September’s PlayStation Plus free game line up had Super Time Force Ultra included. A game that seems like a neat idea, but fails in terms of its execution. A game that is not horrible, but has its issues, that seem to be plaguing the Indie development industry as a whole.
The game was featured also on Sony’s press conference this year for adding Shue Yoshida to the mix as one of the playable characters. Still while the game was received positively I had some reserves about it. Let’s get down to the meat of it!
IT SOUNDS FUN!
You control a squad of soldiers that are commanded by the General who is soldier more decorated with medals than all of the known Medal of Honor recipients in the USA (plus he has two eye patches). The basic premise is that as soon as time travel is discovered by a scientist in an apartment block in New York, all of Earth is invaded by a maniac with a robot army. Soon the world is saved by Super Time Force, and they are celebrated as heroes by the world.
Yet the General is bored, so he decides to send out the squad to random eras of time just to have „Fun”. Because nothing bad could happen when we send back a bunch of people with laser guns to the past.
BUT …. it is not that fun
Time travel as a gameplay gimmick has been used by many games, from the first Prince of Persia game by Ubisoft, to Timeshift, and even Singularity meddled with the concept of stopping or rewinding time to a certain extent. In Super Time Force Ultra this mechanic is a bit modified, and is unique compared to the usual tropes of time travel mechanics in videogames. We have the option to stop time, and rewind it to go back a bit to fix what we messed up.
However once we are done with the rewind, we do not start alone from the point of rewind, instead all the movements including what and where we shot are mimicked by a „phantom” version of ourselves. This way we can do double, trip or quadruple damage to an enemy, as there can be a lot of phantoms shooting around against the enemy. We can also switch characters before starting again after a rewind. There’s also a neat part where if we kill an enemy that killed us, and the rewinded phantom does not get killed, then it became a health pick up box.
This all sounds really great, and neat, a unique mechanic that has never been done before for time travel! Except that the entire gameplay feels, at least to me entirely boring. Do not get me wrong the mechanics are solid it’s just the way it is used is not that satisfactory. The game is essential a bullet-hell game with time rewind. Many enemies will try to kill you, while advancing in the level, and there are times it does not matter how good you are at evading enemies you’ll die, and have to rewind.
Which actually ends up forcing the player to constantly rewind, and to have multiple “Phantom Player” characters on the screen. Two or three would not be a problem but even in normal levels you end up with four or six of yourselves shooting around and it becomes an incoherent mess. The boss battles are worse since there you have to shoot certain weak points of the bosses. At that point you can have around 10 or more player characters doing phantom events just to damage the boss.
The neat idea is also ruined thanks to how the game works, you have sixty seconds to complete a stage, but of course this is extended with a few power ups, and with constantly rewinding the events.
MEMES and Friends
Super Time Force Ultra has a bit of comedy in it. Most of the characters have funny names, and the General introduces some of the characters with a tiny bit of “funny” backstory to them. The comedy feels ripped straight from 9GAG or from Reddit, and that becomes overwhelming at a certain point. From the infamous :”Download the Internet” to The Velociraptor meme it becomes cringeworthy by the end.
Which is unfortunate because the level design and variety is excellent, but the gameplay / humor just does not mesh with it. You get to fight in The Future, Dinosaur times, Medieval times, and a whole bunch of other levels. In the Future times you even get sucked into a computer and have to fight in a web browser against enemies. It all sounds fun, but the constant unnecessary jokes, and huge waves of enemies ruin most of the experience. Speaking of experience…
PIXELS !!! PIXELS EVERYWHERE GAAAAH !!!
The presentation is also horrible. I get it that there is AAA plus development, middleware, and indie, but these days Indie developers seems to saturate the market with unacceptable visuals. While everything looks colorful, you can literally see the pixels when there is a cutscene, or when an explosion occurs. I cannot believe that they do not have the budget to at least do some minimal anti-aliasing on these games.
The enemies are okay in terms of variety, but again they’re built up from pixels which means they look most of the times really ugly. While understand game development can be costly, if the gameplay, and script is not good, at least have good visuals… at least that’s how Michael Bay keeps getting work.
While the game is not that expensive, I would recommend waiting for a sale, or if you were lucky and downloaded it in September than you saved yourself some cash. It’s not an abomination of a videogame, but this game is a perfect example why indie developers should strive to at least achieve some sort of visual uniqueness instead of copying Mario from the NES area.
+ Characters are fun and unique
+ Levels are really well made, and interesting
+ Time travel mechanics are unique in this game.
– Gameplay is a mess, with most characters becoming irrelevant
– Graphics are bad, STOP with the NES games already in 2015.
– Time travel mechanics becoming irrelevant due to bullet sponge nature of the game.
Publisher: Capybara Games
Developer: Capybara Games
Genres: Action, Indie
Publication: September 1, 2015