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Old 08-31-2012, 09:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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PAX '12: Super T.I.M.E. Force Brings Contra to the Fourth Dimension

I'll admit that merely hearing the premise of Capybara's new game had me on board almost immediately. A side-scrolling shooter where your previous attempts at finishing a level fight alongside you? Not only brilliant, but surprising due to the fact that no one's really tried it before. Sure, games like Super Mario Kart popularized the concept of "ghost data," but in that case, the game had you competing with a record set by a previous run, rather than working alongside it to achieve a common goal. The thing is, I didn't realize how far Capybara committed to this intriguing concept until today, when my first hands-on experience proved that Super T.I.M.E. Force amounts to much more than a simple time-based gimmick.

The game's relatively small stages are much more difficult than your standard Contra game, but with good reason; in most cases, death can be beneficial. Your four member crew shares 30 lives, and each member possesses a unique skill perfect for certain situations. Initially, PTF lets you pick from a rapid fire specialist, a rocket launcher aficionado, a laser gun expert, and a special defensive character equipped with a projectile-blocking shield. (There's also an uber-fast dinosaur unlocked after the second stage, but I didn't make it far enough to witness his powers for myself.)

Once you start a level, your death -- and you will die -- immediately rewinds your progress back to the starting point, giving the next attempt a phantom version of your last try fighting alongside you, making the exact same moves and mistakes as you did earlier. But these ghost states don't simply exist as extra firepower; if you manage to take out an enemy before they recreate the death of a previous attempt, the game creates a checkpoint where you automatically start as the formerly dead character.


Honestly, it takes a little to wrap your mind around; at first, I thought the mechanics of STF would be much simpler, but by the time you have ten previous tries fighting alongside you, the action can get very chaotic. And while the game offers a lot of twitch action, playing it often requires more thinking than quick reflexes; by the time I got the hang of things, I typically started out each level with the shield-bearing character, since she would inevitably block dangerous projectiles from any future run-throughs. Each character has a very different application, and knowing when and where to use their special abilities can come in handy; still, STF sometimes requires no-nonsense platforming skills, especially when you're rushing to save a previous attempt gone sour from an enemy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And each rescue adds another life back to your ever-shrinking pool, making this act more than just a means of setting up useful checkpoints.

STF's retro vibe doesn't seem entirely necessary, though it does add to the charm of the game's manic action. Characters speak in nonsensical bursts of NES-quality dialogue, and thankfully these bits of humor don't overstay their welcome like they would in a game less sure of itself. Ultimately, I'm glad they fully committed to their time-bending mechanic; it may take a few dozen failures to fully understand (and a few elements of it still elude me), but in practice, it's amazingly rewarding to save your own piss-poor attempts at running and gunning multiple times in a single try.

I actually left the demo station of my own free will, knowing that someone would inevitably have to pry my hands off of the 360 controller if I didn't choose to exercise some necessary self-control. Cheers to Capybara games for creating such a fun and downright fascinating take on an idea we gaming veterans assumed held no more surprises. Definitely be on the lookout for our review when Super T.I.M.E. Force launches on XBLA -- we at 1UP practically started our own fan club for it.



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Old 08-31-2012, 10:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: PAX '12: Super T.I.M.E. Force Brings Contra to the Fourth Dimension

Very very cool.
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Old 08-31-2012, 11:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: PAX '12: Super T.I.M.E. Force Brings Contra to the Fourth Dimension

I'm not gonna lie this looks really cool
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Old 09-01-2012, 12:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: PAX '12: Super T.I.M.E. Force Brings Contra to the Fourth Dimension

That looks really interesting. What system is it?

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Old 09-01-2012, 12:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: PAX '12: Super T.I.M.E. Force Brings Contra to the Fourth Dimension

Xbox live is what they cite I believe, so pc aswell.
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