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Super Time Force (Xbox One) artwork

Super Time Force (Xbox One) review

"Those who grew up in the 80s and 90s and are looking for a bit of nostalgia are in for a treat."

I'm a huge fan of speed runs. Watching ridiculously skilled players blast their way through some of the hardest games in history by using all the glitches and exploits they spent countless hours trying to find is incredibly thrilling. Thanks to charity marathons like Awesome Games Done Quick, speed running is not only catching on with gamers, but with developers as well. Capybara Games is one of those development teams catering to speed demons with its latest game, Super Time Force.

STF is a 2D shoot-em-up that utilizes a time-travel mechanic as its hook. All of the action can be rewound or placed on fast-forward whenever you want. The characters at your disposal are all members of an elite time traveling squad under the command of Colonel Repeatski, who wants to alter history by doing things like saving the dinosaurs from extinction and preventing Atlantis from sinking into the ocean.

Those who grew up in the 80s and 90s (raises hand) and are looking for a bit of nostalgia are in for a treat. I mean, to go along with the NES-esque pixel art graphics, the starting three characters are named Jean Rambois, Aimi McKillin and Shieldy Blockerson, any of whom could easily have appeared in a Clinton-era Marvel or Image comic. Eventually, more action star badasses are unlocked like Jef Leppard, Zackasaurus Rex (yes, a skateboarding dinosaur) and Dolphin Lundgren. In total, there are 16 of these trigger-happy heroes that you'll be able to swap into battle, and all of them have unique abilities such as Aimi's sniper rifle that can shoot through walls, Shieldy's bullet-reflecting force fields and Jean's spread-shot machine gun.

With all of these characters and special powers to use, there are plenty of different strategies to take during missions. Want to grab a power-up but running low on time? Simply grab the item, rewind time, summon a new character and press ahead while the character you were just controlling grabs the power-up. Fighting a boss that has a ton of health? Keep rewinding and selecting characters (or even the same one) until you have five, ten or twenty of them blasting away at it simultaneously.

The gameplay's influences are all over the place. The developers channeled Contra (including 30 lives, natch) and Gunstar Heroes to scratch their retro itch, and lifted mechanics from Super Meat Boy and Braid to add some modern flair. STF is just as hard as some of these games as well, plus it champions speediness above all else and that means it's perfect for Let's Plays and live streams.

This isn't to say that only the ultra-talented should apply. For as challenging as STF can be, the time traveling ability keeps it playable since it almost makes death a non-issue. The fact you can just put the game in reverse when you die actually allows for a more leisurely approach to playing, since it provides ample opportunities for trial and error and even makes the short stage timer feel like less of a burden.

The accessibility is perhaps the most interesting part of STF. Many games designed to be hectic and punishing seem to be created for either the most seasoned gamers or masochistic YouTubers, folks who then upload videos of themselves cursing into their microphones as they fail over and over again (I'm looking at you, I Wanna Be the Guy). This isn't the case with STF, as it successfully marries approachability and challenge without cheapening the experience.

About the only bad things I can say about Super Time Force is that it can be overwhelming at times, particularly with the amount of characters, and all of the insanity on the screen can be a tad distracting. The controls are generally manageable, but they could stand to be more responsive, as well. Overall, this is a very solid, action-packed game with loads of replay value. I can't wait to see what the speed running community does with it.


Tayo's avatar
Freelance review by Tayo Stalnaker (June 04, 2014)

Tayo is a lifelong gamer hailing from Portlandia. After a stint reviewing movies and music for his college paper, he co-founded the Dangerous Kids video game podcast in 2009. Now he's writing about games instead of yapping about them into a microphone.

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