Super Time Force is Ridiculous in the Best Ways: PAX Preview
Kalvin Martinez / Sep 9th, 2013 1 Comment
[adsense250itp]Super Time Force is an upcoming side-scrolling shooter for the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade. Capybara Games is developing the game that stems from a 2011 game jam. Capybara after some deliberation decided to continue with the project after the game jam, and eventually Microsoft gave it an “XBLA Award” at IGF to develop and release the game on XBLA. As a strategy to build a loyal following for the game, Capybara has showed off the game at various conventions with minimal promotion letting fans discover the game and its unique properties during its early development.
As luck would have it that method is exactly how I came about playing the Super Time Force demo at this year’s PAX. At the beginning of PAX day 1 after eating a chocolate filled croissant (luckily it was not in a French ass restaurant and was given to me quite promptly) and waiting for the floor to open. I stumbled through level 4 scoping out the booths seeing where some of my appointments would be and seeing what games to check out later.
Somehow I gravitated toward the Sony/Microsoft area, which even 10 minutes into day 1 was flooded with the unwashed masses huddled waiting to check out #Ryse: Son of Rome and #Knack. Instead of trying to wait for hours to check out some of the next-gen (especially since it will be out shortly), I pushed pass the crowds to get some air. Along the side of the Sony area next to the Double Fine merch booth were a few TVs with Xbox 360s and eye catching art work for Super Time Force. Now I was not going completely blind into this, I knew to some degree that Super Time Force was a new Capy game and that it was purportedly crazy, but not much more about it. That was probably the best way to tackle the Super Time Force demo.
Immediately upon picking up the controller and digging into the game, its influences and stylistic choices hit the player. Everything screams 80s about the game (which makes sense since it is set in 198X) from the look of the game to the Contra shooter feel to the characters. Super Time Force is utterly ridiculous, but in the all the best ways. It drips with 80s decadence, vivid colors and references. It feels like a game made for the NES with 2013 gameplay sensibilities.
At the beginning of each level, the player can select one of several characters from a Jedi-like knight-esque character to a shield wielding knight to a Rambo meets Jean Reno character to a female Mel Gibson (shout out to Melanie Gibson, but the game needs to have a Danny Glover DLC character who gets older as he time travels until he is literally too old for that s***) to a dinosaur riding a skateboard. Super Time Force not only subtlety hint at its influences but outright blasts players in the face with them. The characters in Super Time Force are like if The Expendables was actually made in the 1980s when all those dudes were not old and it was not embarrassing to watch their old man necks grit out one liners (and there is a dinosaur in a varsity jacket because you know, cocaine).
The game’s character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are better at defending like the knight who can block bullets and set up force fields while some are more offensive like Jean Rambois. Then there are balanced characters like the jedi-like character who can use his faux-light sabre to hit back bullets and charge up his attack to throw the faux-light sabre at enemies. Also, there is a dinosaur that uses psionic teeth to chomp enemies, which is totally ****ing cool.
The action in the game is chaotic and majorly fun. Each level in the game is only 60 seconds. So players only have a minute to run through dodging bullets and shooting up baddies without dying because health is at a premium and even a few bullets mean death. That makes the game incredibly tough, but it is also where the main mechanic for Super Time Force comes in, which is the player’s ability to call Time Out.
Time Out allows the player to rewind time and fix their mistake, so if they die or run out of time they can just rewind to a point and change their strategy. So instead of trying to take out that enemy, they can dodge a bullet and grab a time bonus (little clock icons that allows them to add time) and then continue on their way. Or if an enemy is real tough, they can die, change characters and rewind to try a different method of dealing with them. What becomes really cool is that when players use Time Out to rewind time, a ghost of their last play through still shows up in the level doing what they did before they died. Meaning players will play alongside their former selves in a kick ass ghost of action games past scenario. This adds another level of strategy to dodging, shooting and charging shots as players can smartly use their ghost selves to do extra damage to enemies. It is an army of one, but not ****ty.
Honestly, Super Time Force was a hugely surprisingly delight. It oozes personality and announces its intention to win you over as soon as you pick up the controller. The game looks amazing and seeing still images of the game is like looking at the greatest fever dream after staying up way too late playing Nintendo when you were home sick from school. While it is probably best to go into this game knowing nothing and discovering all of its particular quirks, people should know about Super Time Force because it is absolutely incredible. It was one of my favorite discoveries upon leaving PAX this year, and people should eagerly anticipate Super Time Force’s release later this year on Xbox Live Arcade.
tags: Below , Cabybara Games , PAX , PAX Prime , preview , Super Time Force , Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP , xbox 360 , xbox one