Time Slip (SNES) review
"When a game's music is its best feature by a wide margin, you're probably in for a rough ride. Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent soundtracks out there -- Chaos Legion's frenetic rock and the Ys series' magnificent scores come to mind -- it's just that I generally don't feel too good about things when a handful of tunes I could "legally buy" for free are the most rewarding part of a $50 product. "
When a game's music is its best feature by a wide margin, you're probably in for a rough ride. Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent soundtracks out there -- Chaos Legion's frenetic rock and the Ys series' magnificent scores come to mind -- it's just that I generally don't feel too good about things when a handful of tunes I could "legally buy" for free are the most rewarding part of a $50 product.
Time Slip's best feature is its music. By several miles.
That said, I'd be surprised if it weren't, as it's the only thing untainted by the shitty controls that plague the rest of the game. The moment this rotten Contra-clone presses start on the title screen for you (they wanted to kick things off on the right foot), you'll notice that something is up; the lanky, pale-blue Time Slip guy jumps kind of like Larry Bird would were he playing basketball on the moon. Whenever you tap the jump button, your character leaps into the air... and just kind of stays there for a while. It makes timing anything even resembling a dodge impossible, and would've made the arbitrary run-n-gun game jumping moments a frustration had this game actually been difficult. Plus, he looks stupid. I guarantee you he'd be flailing around mid-jump had Vic Tokai actually bothered to put in more than four (total) frames of animation.
And really, if such a basic aspect of the game fails so miserably, what hope does the rest of it have? At least Time Slip isn't an exercise in wasted potential, though; even if it controlled smoother than butter I'd still hate it. Consider the very beginning of the game, which puts our hero in the middle of a dense forest populated by Indians and chicken robots -- in medieval Britain, no less. The only way to progress is by slowly scaling the sides of the area after clearing out archers with your pathetically underpowered machinegun or nigh-useless bombs, and for some zany reason, if you take damage on some of the stage's numerous log bridges (even a stab wound!), the whole thing collapses and you plummet to the floor. WATCH OUT FOR LOG BRIDGES!
Then, logic be damned, you enter a purple cave that just happens to lie at the top of this area. No, nothing in this game makes sense. Upon entering, you'll find a perpetual wave of horrors just waiting to tear you limb from... well, no. Ominous floating skulls that -- uh -- float, holes in the wall that spew flames you could easily jump over were the controls good, Castlevania IV-style golems that do nothing to oppose you... by the time you have to battle some ridiculous long-necked monster at the end whose attacks are so manly they cause everything on screen to flicker, you'll welcome it. Not out of interest, mind you, but out of boredom.
After finishing off that exciting adventure, you arbitrarily fall into some sort of dungeon where the only notable obstacle is... a spiky box. A big spiky box. It's too high for even Time Slip's pole vaulter to leap over, so your only course of action is to pump it full of bullets and watch it scrape across the floor inch by inch until you can reach the exit.
"Wait, what's this? The box blew up! I knew the developers couldn't be that silly."
But then another box falls in front of you. And another. And another. If you thought Sword of Sodan's posthumous admonishments or Devil May Cry's offerings of an "easy-automatic" mode were sadistic, you haven't seen anything yet.
Finally, after making your way through an abandoned castle wall featuring strong opposition and ominous thunder (actually, the screen periodically turns white and you kill a couple of gun turrets, never mind the fact that this is medieval Britain), you come face to face with the colossal knight who lords over this hodgepodge of virtual filth. His talents?
1. Shooting electric balls that you can duck under
Unfortunately, the duel isn't mercifully short, as he fires off a lot of projectiles and he's always lumbering back and forth. Plus, his feet aren't vulnerable. Duck, stand, shoot, move, duck, stand, shoot, move... rinse and repeat for TEN FUCKING MINUTES.
Best thing of all, though? That stuff is just the first level; it only goes downhill from there.
Right after that, for instance, the game aimlessly decides to throw in a jet-bike level. It's kind of like an exciting horizontal shooter except it's not exciting and there isn't much to shoot. There are some enemies that fly in from different sides of the screen, sure, but the most effort you'll ever have to expend in slaughtering them is changing the direction of your autofire; even the level boss, a rather diminutive dragon, only requires you to keep moving so as not to get burninated. Equally brilliant are the physical obstacles in this stage, conspicuously random fortresses (the rest of the level is a somniferous swamp) that just so happen to have tunnels going through the middle of them. Whenever you come within about, oh, seven miles of one of these, the game uses a pair of obnoxiously large arrows to point at the center of the screen. If you can somehow make it there within the stringent time limit, you're safe! What a fun way to spend another ten minutes!
Time Slip never picks up. Ever. All you do for the entire game is go from one random pile of shit to the next one, kind of like a dog show without the dogs. It doesn't even try to redeem itself with your final opponent, a fecal (or perhaps just poorly colored; the art design leaves much to be desired) dust-mite thing who tears through a wall of amplifiers and intimidates you by... wasting your time.
This game just doesn't do anything right. The controls are annoying, but the game is ridiculously easy in spite of that. Plus, the level design and enemies alike are nonsensical and devoid of challenge; if the game weren't so painfully bad it might be kind of funny. Oh, and the music? Yeah, that sucks too. It's about as melodic as bad GameBoy stuff and as pleasant as a techno act like Autechre at its most painfully experimental -- and on SNES synth, to boot. It's only better than the rest of this sludge by virtue of the fact that you can mute your TV. When a game's music is its best feature by a wide margin, but even that sucks, you're probably playing Time Slip.
Community review by Cornwell (January 25, 2009)
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