Super TIME Force is just such an endearing little game. There’s humor, time shenanigans, familiar mechanics used in new, fun ways, and a commander with not one, but two eye patches. The gameplay is solid, the atmosphere is colorful and pleasing, and there’s even a dinosaur riding a skateboard wearing sunglasses. There isn’t much to hate about this game at all… except for maybe the fact it’s only on the 360 and Xbox One.
The year is 198X (X is a number, right?). A scientist has just discovered the secret to time travel–and about ten seconds later, an alien race invades and tries to decimate the planet Earth. Just as suddenly as the invasion starts, another, decidedly more hardcore version of the original scientist appears and introduces the Super TIME Force, a group created in order to keep all of time safe. With that, the Super TIME Force takes off to deal with the alien threat, leaving the nagging mystery of where the second eyepatch came from hanging in the air.
Super TIME Force doesn’t take itself seriously, and is all the better for it. While humor in games can often come off as sarcastic or ill-placed, in this title they work pretty well. This IS a game about crazy time stunts and using your multiple, frequent deaths in order to do awesome stuff, after all. The title isn’t above “juvenile” jokes at times, but given that not enough games pull off humor right in the first place, it’s forgivable if Super TIME Force isn’t the most mature of titles.
But really, the game isn’t about its engaging story (as glorious as it is); Super TIME Force is all about its fun and unique time mechanics. You only have 60 seconds to get through the level, and quite honestly it’d be difficult to do alone. One squad member simply doesn’t have enough firepower to mow down the dozens of enemies and mini-bosses, let alone surviving the encounters unscathed.
That’s where Time Out mechanics come into Super TIME Force. At any time you can Time Out and rewind time. When you do so, a silhouette of the previous character will still be jumping and shooting when you go about your business, adding much needed firepower and the mobility to get through the stages with time remaining. Also, if you manage to save a silhouette that’s destined to die (by, let’s say, killing the enemy that shot him/her), you can ‘collect’ them, recovering a charge of the Time Out gauge as well as gaining an extra hit and their special charge attack.
The Time Out gauge is limited, however. You get 30 charges (or essentially, people running about); if you run out and die or run out of time, you fail the mission. There are a few ways to recover some of the gauge, though. Other than the method detailed above, you can also collect Glorbs that will give you an extra Time Out. Overall though, the 30 charges will be enough to get through the most harrowing of levels, and with a healthy smattering of time increases and objects that show down time, it’s relatively easy to get to the mini-boss of each stage with enough Time Outs to outright slaughter it with your remaining forces.
The boss battles at the end of the time period you’re in, though, require a different strategy. The bosses can’t simply be attacked en masse and killed; instead, you have to hit weak points and and deal with enemies withdrawing those hit points based on how much damage they’ve taken (as opposed to a certain amount of time). As such, it becomes more of a balancing act of quickly knocking out the weak point and exposing the boss to damage, then quickly whaling on them. Since you only have 60 seconds, you have to make sure you can get through the battle in time, but you also have to make sure not to waste your Time Outs, as there’s no point in knocking down a third of the boss’s health in a second when you have no Time Outs left to quickly knock off the other two thirds. This makes boss encounters very rewarding, especially the final boss. It’s almost like a puzzle, figuring out who is best to knock out the weak points, dodging the enemy fire, and laying the damage on quickly without using too many Time Outs. It’s also very gratifying when you defeat these bosses, as it is a test of wits as much as it is of skill.
If there’s anything to really mark against Super TIME Force, it’s the imbalance of the characters you eventually gather. Since you have to focus on getting a lot of firepower out there in a short amount of time, melee based units short of get the shaft; they tend to be powerful, but power doesn’t matter much when they can only attack a single unit. As such, those that don’t have ranged attacks (or ranged attacks that are limited in scope) tend to go unused, which is unfortunate. Still, having the option is nice, and there are only a couple characters that rely heavily on their melee attacks, so the overall cast isn’t too nerfed.
Some may think that the title is too short, with only six time periods to go through before the final area, but the length feels just right. Super TIME Force isn’t a title that drags on, and with all the character varieties and collectibles to grab, there’s plenty of room for replayability here. It’s a fast and fun experience for everyone, and anyone that wants to delve further can do so. If you have a Microsoft console, Super TIME Force is a no-brainer. Pick it up for a fun weekend (or really anyTIME) adventure, you won’t regret it!