Ok, so maybe it’s a little early to give Super Time Force the title of ‘most ridiculous game of this generation’, but games are going to struggle to compete with it, that’s for sure. I can’t quite begin to explain just how frustrating, hilarious, stupid, disgusting, unbelievable, unpredictable and down right amazing this game is. There isn’t just one thing about it that kept me coming back, there’s a whole score of reasons to pick up and play this game and only one of them is the price! So, I’m going to break this review down into reasons why you should be playing it rather than looking at the conventional ‘graphics’ and ‘sound’ and ‘story’. Though I will give a quick introduction, just for you guys.
So the crux of the 16-bit action shooter / speed running gem that is Super Time Force, is quite simple in a weird and wonderful way. You play as any one of a number of members of the ‘Super Time Force’, a time traveling bunch of rag-tag mercenaries who are doing the bidding of the slightly eccentric double eye-patched, Colonel Repeatski. At first, Colonel Repeatski travels back in time with the STF to help save Earth from impending doom. Once that’s all done and dusted, the eccentricity begins. He’ll have the STF traveling back to Medieval England to steal the Holy Grail and bring it back to the future for sale to the highest bidder. Why? You might ask. Well to help pay the astronomical legal bills of the ‘Medieval Times’ restaurant chain after a birthday party mishap led to a hefty lawsuit. And to get free entry and a lifetime supply of refillable cola, of course. The ridiculousness of this game is immeasurable, but it’s what I love most about it. Whilst helping Repeatski make the world ‘more awesome’, by saving the dinosaurs form extinction through destroying the comet and creating a futuristic Human-Dynotopia for example, you’ll also have to battle Dr. Infinity as he tries to stop you from having fun, being all serious about time travel and junk. So now that the boring back-story milarky is out of the way, let’s talk about why you should be buying it!
It’s fun … immensely so! There’s a ridiculous amount of joy in this game and every level is extremely fun to play. They’re addictive, fast paced, and have that perfect combination of humour and difficulty that makes you both wince and smile at the same time and, of course, want to play on. There are so many great levels in this little title, it’s honestly packed to the brim. There’s no need for voice acting or fancy graphics in Super Time Force, all Capybara Games need to make you smile is some 16bit graphics, some ridiculous settings and the writing to glue it all together. And, of course, the gameplay. The mechanics are simple but incredibly challenging at times as you have just 60 seconds to complete each mission and a number of ‘rewinds’ to facilitate it. The characters all suffer from ‘one hit death’ syndrome, so it’s wise to use those rewinds sensibly. Each time you rewind, either forced through death or by choice through pressing the back button, the original character from the first play-through remains in the game, as a ghost like hologram, and they will influence the level along with your new character. So you can end up having thirty hologram versions of your previous characters shooting the enemies and bosses in the level at any one time. The game is heavily dependent on tactics if you want to play it well and, whilst going guns blazing can be effective, the smart money’s on taking your time and setting up a decent offence and defence – particularly when tackling the bosses. This all adds to the fun of the game as not only do you have a humorous indie title on your hands, but it’s also a game that will get you thinking. Of course, you can just wing it and throw bodies at the enemies, but you ain’t gonna be collecting no collectables that way and, to be honest, it really isn’t rewarding.
It’s hilarious … I’ve touched on the hilarity of this game once or twice already, but I’m yet to give you any real examples (other than the dinosaur thing and the Holy Grail). Each level is given to you with a reason, for example one level will see you combating Atlantians to help save the lost city from being submerged in the sea and, of course, to create a new state in the US that will be a hot spot for holiday makers and spring break goers. Super Time Force barely has a serious bone in it, it’s all humerus … see what I did there? Clearly, I’m not at the same caliber of funny as Capybara Games, as all of their jokes are spot on. Colonel Repeatski is perfect, even though he isn’t voiced. It’s as though the game is built around this one character, and it doesn’t take you long to realise that the Super Time Force are just pawns in his hilarious plots.
It’s frustrating … in a totally good way … and there’s a very fine line between good frustrating and bad frustrating. Dark Souls II – good frustrating, the original Castlevania – bad frustrating. You’ll find a decent challenge in Super Time Force, but never a game-breaker. If you want to do it ‘properly’, you’ll be getting a good few hours of gameplay out of it, along with a few ‘pull out your hair’ moments too. It took me just the right amount of time to complete the difficult levels where I had died a few times and was forced to restart the mission. The space between restarting and completing the mission was just long enough to prove challenging, but short enough to warrant the extra effort.
It’s hilarious … I know, I’ve already used this one. But any game that sees you battling against a giant turd monster in a disgusting sewer system gets a thumbs up in my books. You’ll also be fighting internet babies and a mechanised T-Rex to name just a few of the weird and wonderful bosses, along with unlocking a playable character called ‘Squirty Harry’, who’s a turd with a six-shooter. What more do I need to say? There are lots of references in STF, so keep an eye out for hints to games like Donkey Kong, for example (see below, it looks pretty Donkey Kongey to me). It all adds to the fun, as I ended up not only enjoying the gameplay, but intently watching the cutscenes with a smile constantly plastered across my face.
It’s only £11 … as if all of the above wasn’t enough to convince you, am I right? I bet you stopped reading at “turd with a six-shooter” and ran straight to your console to download it. If you’re still not convinced, the game retails at a stingy £11. That’s like, the price of a Domino’s Pizza … or two if you order on a Tuesday. This game is more than worth the £11 price tag. To be honest, I’d still be happy had I spent double that.
Super Time Force is a slightly enigmatic game at times, but fun nonetheless. I’m still not entirely sure if the STF are the good guys or not, but I don’t think I particularly care. Sure, Colonel Repeatski is a bit mad and his use of time travel might not be for the noblest of causes. But he has two eye-patches, so it’s pretty obvious that he isn’t the bad guy … right? Bad guy or not, his reasons for sending me traveling throughout the voids of time constantly put a smile on my face and this, combined with the fantastic game mechanics and the general fun of the title, makes for the perfect indie game. I’m crossing my fingers that Capybara Games have some sort of DLC planned for Super Time Force and, if not, I really hope that a sequel is in the mixer. Until then, I’m just going to go back to playing the game through again. I’ve got plenty more characters to unlock and a good few collectables to collect – Medieval Times isn’t going to save itself from bankruptcy now, is it.