Capybara's shooter is an adrenaline rush, an insane race against the clock. It's a tongue-in-cheek time-travelling story interpreted through a hardcore 2D adventure.
Anyone that watched Back to the Future knows the danger of a time travel paradox. Happily its not an issue for General Repeatski and his Super Time Force, who travel across time, undoing mistakes as they see fit to make the world a better place.
Atlantis sunk? It'd be a shame to let such a lovely island slide into the ocean. Dinosaurs extinct? Not with the Super Time Force around! Stopping the world-altering asteroid is quickly on their C.V.
But where there's yin, there's yang. Super Time Force are opposed by
Doctor Infinity and his robot army. And it's these fiends they must battle across time (and a multitude of side-scrolling levels).
The game's tough. Bullets rain throughout each level, and any one means instant death. Added to this, our heroes have only sixty seconds to complete each, and some levels come with a huge boss waiting for them at the end.
Luckily time travellers come with a few tricks. You're able to rewind time, right up to the level's beginning, though you're limited to thirty attempts using this trick. And what happens next isn't a straight replay of what's went before; your previous versions now fight alongside you. And if you can eliminate the cause of their death before they're killed, you save them.
There's multiple characters to choose from, and returning from death allows you to switch to someone else. There's benefit to doing this other than trying a different fighter - combining two members (you and a past version) gives you an extra life point and a special attack. So, for example, if you save sniper Aimy McKillin with Shieldy Blockerson, you can trigger a temporary shield, and shots can now penetrate through walls.
With an army of up to thirty characters on screen at the same time, navigating the bullet storm should be easier, if it weren't for that merciless time limit, though power ups can be collected to add precious seconds to the clock. The idea at least is that the more you die, the more help you get chewing through a level, ensuring that the time limit can be met.
Nicely, even these time-altering power-ups fall foul of the multiple lives concept. In some levels there'll be visible collectables to slow down time in particular areas, but they can only be activated once per level, irrespective of how many lives you've spent trying to complete it. So it may be in a subsequent run at the same level, your forced to race against an earlier self to trigger the slo-mo sequence.
Super Time Force is pixelated homage to the shoot 'em ups that dogged the SNES era of the 90s, yet it's a game that could never have been made back then. It's a little masterpiece, underpinned by a fantastic idea: single-player co-op. And it works extremely well.
All the different elements complement each other wonderfully, and mesh together to provide a challenging adventure, where the classic principles of the ‘Bullet Hell' genre are given additional strategic depth thanks to new mechanics. And come a level's end, you can watch your replay or upload it (on Xbox One) for others to see.
Super Time Force seems to have sprung from the imagination of a twelve year old in the eighties. Incredible over-the-top scenarios with unlockable, skateboarding dinosaurs. The game is peppered with references and a lot of humour. No pun on the subject of time is left on the cutting room floor, and you devour the text-only dialogue, such is the quality of the writing.
The pixelated visuals show off a lot of great, small details. Such as in the Space Van - the flying control centre of the Super Time Force - where a small cat lolls lazily on a monitor that has a game of Pong playing. The cat continually tries to catch the ball with its paw while we assess our progress or prepare to embark on new adventures.
Super Time Force is one of the best exclusives Microsoft has managed to land on their Xbox consoles this year. It shouldn't be missed by any video game enthusiast.