PAX East: Saving yourself to fight with your ghost in Super T.I.M.E. Force
It all started at a Toronto Game Jam then turned into a Friday project. But it got much bigger than that with an IGF nomination turned XBLA prize winner at the IGF this year. That game was Super T.I.M.E. Force and it was one of the best games at PAX East this year.
Nathan Vella, co-founder and president of Capybara Games walked me through a demo of the game where you’re part of a force that goes back in time to solve the biggest mistakes like destroying the first boy band and other famous monsters in history.
The gameplay has been something that hasn’t been talked about much but has a concept that’s brilliant. You start by choosing a character and go throughout the level but when you die, you rewind back to the start and you’re accompanied by…yourself.
Yes, a ghost of yourself follows you throughout the level to help you out of a jam and destroy enemies with you. The more times you die, the more ghosts you’ll have and at times, you’ll have up to 5 or even 12 (the demo had up to 23 lives). You could switch out different characters each time you die from a regular spread shot to a charged up shield deflector to a grenade launcher dude who loves cats and is named Jef Leppard. It adds a new spin on the gameplay by making it a co-op game where your partners are past versions of yourself playing the game.
But if you manage to kill the person that killed one of your original character ghosts in the playthrough, you’ll be able to save that character. So instead of going all the way back to the beginning, you get to play as that character who you saved and keep running through the level. It’s a confusing concept to write down but instead of making death a penalty, it turns into a gameplay dynamic that’s necessary to keep winning. You’ll never get frustrated since 5 of your other soldiers will be alongside you.
The game has gorgeous pixel art created by two twin brothers Vic and Mike Nguyen. It’s more pastel-like and not as bright looking as most other pixel-based games. With level design that begins on a run-down planet to eventually going to space. Did we mention missile jumping? Oh yes, there’s platforming sections that almost rival the best parts of Contra and Gunstar Heroes.
The demo had 4 characters to choose from but Nathan hinted that you might be able to play as a Ninja that can jump on walls which sounds awesome. It won’t be a particularly long game but it’ll be the right amount where it won’t get tired after some odd hours.
It’s nice to get an experience that feels unique to the platform of XBLA instead of feeling like some tired IP. It feels fresh and uses mechanics that won’t frustrate the perfectionist since they’ll need your ghosts to survive. It’s exclusive currently to XBLA and release-date wise, they’re taking their time with the development to make sure it’s perfect. Microsoft isn’t forcing them to make a specific date and being extremely supportive to Capybara. The game is looking about a year away, that might scream bummer but in this person’s opinion, it’ll be well worth the wait for you and your ghost and your ghost’s ghost.
Check out more awesome XBLA game previews and impressions from PAX East 2012!