Super Time Force Ultra is a pixel designed, side-scrolling action shooter made by Capybara Games. However, this isn’t just your average shooter, it has a very interesting mechanic; you can rewind time. You read that correctly, you can rewind time.
Allow me to elaborate
Commander Repeatski (see what they did there?) sends a crack team of time travelling soldiers through different periods in time. These destinations vary from way into the future or to the prehistoric age, each with different mission objectives.
You start the game with 4 team-mates and each have their own abilities. One carries a mini-gun, one can shoot through walls, the other carries a shield and the other can shoot grenades. Even though you start with 4 characters, there are many other characters you can unlock as the game progresses.
So how does this time travelling mechanic work, I hear you all ask. Well, it serves a couple of purposes. Each level has a time limit, so you need to reach the end of the level before the time runs out. If you don’t make it in time, you have to rewind the clock which essentially means that you lose a life. Your actions before you rewound time are still recorded and you can still see a ghost of yourself. This means that instead of wasting time shooting your enemies the second time around, you can speed-run the level and make it to the end before the time runs out.
The other way in which you can utilise this mechanic is, if you come across an enemy that’s tough to defeat in the time you have left. You can simply rewind the clock to add another character into the fight, thus increasing your firepower and making it easier to defeat the enemy. But you only have the ability to rewind the clock 30 times. Once this has run out, you essentially have no more lives left and when you die, you’ll have to restart the level again.
The great thing for me about this game was the humour, this game is littered with humour throughout. For example, one of the missions has you going into the future to find all of the PC plug-ins so that the commander can watch cat videos on the internet. It’s certainly a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
As I mentioned previously, there are many more characters to unlock. These characters are taken from different Sony trademarked games, like the character from Journey or even the president of Sony World Wide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida. However, unlocking them can be quite tricky. You usually turn up when these unlockables are in precarious situations and are moments away from death. An example at the very beginning of the game, I had a large garage door between myself and a new character. However, a robot jumped down and shot him. I had to rewind time to create a few more characters in order to have the firepower to destroy the door and the robot before he was able to get a shot off.
It’s situations like this that change this game into a puzzle solver, as well as a shooter. When you rewind time and respawn, do you select a different playable character with a different ability? Different situations will require different abilities and it’ll make some of the tougher sections easier to get through.
Another cool feature is when you finish a level, it’ll show you a replay. So you can watch how you completed the level in an uninterrupted replay, showing each death and respawn moment.
But this game isn’t without it’s flaws though. For every joyful moment that this game brings, it’s punctuated by moments of utter frustration. The rewind mechanic is a great feature, however the level design isn’t as polished as it needs to be. So there will be many times where you die, rewind time to find a place to respwan but then get killed immediately afterwards simply because the level design doesn’t allow the perfect place to respawn. And this cycle can be repeated many times over and before you know it, you’ve lost 5 or 6 lives in one spot.
What compounds this issue is when you have many versions of yourself in one area, there’s a lot going on and it’s hard to know whether the bullets on screen are the ones that you’ve fired or the ones coming towards you.
The other downside is that you’re racing against a clock. Now I don’t know about any of you, but racing against a clock stresses me out at the best of times but I don’t see that this feature adds anything to the overall experience. I understand that in a game about time, it would be natural to be racing against time itself but it just seems like it’s been added for that reason alone.
Super Time Force Ultra is a game that I’d been looking forward to playing all year, and despite it’s flaws, it’s one I would recommend. However, that recommendation comes with a public health warning; be warned that your controller or Vita may find itself imbedded in a wall from sheer frustration.