Imagine if you will, a game where when you die, all the things you did in that life still matter, and as you keep playing, you may get the chance to save their life with your future and/or present self. Also imagine that if you die, say, 20 times, all 20 of those lives will be running around on screen with your present self doing those things they did before they died and you are now just plowing through the level.
That is Super Time Force in a nutshell for you. But there’s more, so much more.
Capybara games has put out some crazy awesome games. I say “crazy awesome” meaning both absolutely insane, but also incredibly fun and entertaining at once. If you have thrown-up rainbows into your son’s mouth in Critter Crunch, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Specifically though, I must mention the Irrational Passions Downloadable GOTY of 2011, Might and Magic Clash of Heroes HD. That game did a number on us Irrational Passionists, and did even more a number on our time. Cancelling units turned into blurry nightmares that lasted literal days. Tony and myself both played that game for 36 hours straight in one sitting. No, we don’t know how.
Suffice to say, I have a lot of respect for Capy Games and their ability to make games both very simple and very addicting. Super Time Force, otherwise known as that game with an incredibly epic name, seems to be going down a very different path that will probably blow your mind so hard you will be left a speechless husk. Or something like that.
As I mentioned before, you play the game with the “ghosts” of your past, for lack of a better word. Think of it as racing against your ghosts in Mario Kart, accept they aren’t really ghosts, you’re not really racing, and they can totally still kick ass for you. So basically nothing like that.
(This game is really hard to put into words.)
You start a level at a start point as any of three classes (they were showing three, and then later four classes in this demo). From there you go forward in a side-scrolling shooter-esque game much like Contra, and destroy some baddies. You die in one shot, and you need to keep your time gauge at the top of the screen full by shooting dudes or you will again, die. Basic Contra stuff, right? Now this is where it gets complicated.
Let’s say you blow through five enemies and then some cheap flame-throwing jerkoff takes you out. Sad day, yes I know. You will be rewound to the beginning of the level (assuming this is your first death) and you will again be given the choice of the three classes. Those classes broke into a heavy with a machine gun, a sniper with a single-shot, super-powered rifle, and a character with a shield that shot energy directly in front of him and deflected bullets. Since you chose the heavy for your first life, you’re going to try out the sniper. This is the cool and interesting part, I promise. That playthrough you did with the heavy, where you decimated those five guys with your machine gun, will now run along with you as you play as the sniper. You can’t exactly interact with him, but he will still do damage, and still destroy those five enemies, and still get killed by that flamethrower in the end. If you manage, with your present sniper, to kill that flamethrower before he kills your heavy, you can “save” that heavy, and where he originally died becomes a checkpoint where you can now return to once you died, and you’ll automatically restart their as a heavy if/when you die.
This can happen more than just once though, so imagine your twenty deaths actually becoming a small army of your past-selves helping you destroy everything on screen at once. All twenty versions of you disperse along the twenty different paths you took and do twenty different things.
Death then becomes a strategy, where for example on the boss, you have to destroy three small buds to open the top weak-spot of the boss, and actually damage the boss itself. I found myself dying three times on purpose, and then going up and doing damage, dying, doing damage, dying, again and again until I had enough damage to destroy the boss, as all my past selves helped me decimate him.
On top of all of that, the game takes a very interesting direction in its pixel-art style. The game blew me away with its absolutely amazing sprites. They were seriously unbelievable. Imagine, if you will, the style behind Swords and Sworcery LP, both the same, but also very different. The way the pixels are arranged seems to be a call back to the Superbrothers, but keep in mind these are entirely different artists behind this one. Regardless, seeing the game in motion is truly a thing of beauty, I can not emphasize this enough.
Super Time Force has all the makings of a super epic Contra-style game, with an absolutely ingenious twist on that gameplay. The game absolutely kicked my ass, and when I turned the mechanic of death back upon it, I felt like I was kicking back.
Ever since picking up the controller on the show floor, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about new strategies to use my past selves to help me kick ass. That is the highest praise I can give Super Time Force.
No word on when it is coming out, but to leave you with more excitement, the fourth class they were showing in the demo (which you have to unlock by saving him) was a guy with a rocket-launcher named “Jef Leppard”, who you save from a flame-throwing robot while he is petting a cat.
Yeah, I’m excited too.
Stay tuned to Irrational Passions and listen to the podcast for more information on when Jef Leppard is coming to save kittens around the world and through time.