Death of the Critic

The Backlog - Super Time Force

Written by: Tom Blaich


I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I have a list of games that I’ve been meaning play for years. I have way too many games on Steam, and a stack of cases sitting next to my TV. Close to five hundred games now. Maybe more. It makes me feel guilty. I haven’t touched 90% of them in one way or another. I need to fix that. So this week, I dug deep into my backlog and pulled out a game. I want to play all of them; I’ve just never had the chance. Now’s the time.

Sometimes all a game has is a good idea, and the one behind Super Time Force is unquestionably good. It is a side scrolling, bullet hell shooter a la Contra, but they remixed classic concept by letting you rewind time and use previous versions of your character (think ghosts from a racing game) to help you progress. Admittedly, this concept is hard to comprehend without seeing it in action. It lets you rewind time to try a challenge over and over again, each time becoming easier by virtue of having additional help from your ghosts.

It’s as if every time you rewind, you create a parallel timeline where you exist at the same time as the you from before you went back. That version of you does all of the actions that you did up until the point at which you rewound. You can use this to save your ghosts from death, gaining an extra “life” to tackle the level with. You use these multiple incarnations of your self to attack enemies from multiple angles and coordinate to take out the bosses before the clock runs out. Again, it’s hard to explain.


You have 60 seconds and 30 “lives” to tackle each level. Each one of these lives is one of the aforementioned ghosts that can play alongside of you. If you die, you can rewind and save yourself from death to gain one back, and carry more firepower forward. You have these ghosts beside you, helping fight enemies that would be too tough to tackle on their own. You just don’t have enough time to complete an entire level on your own. The boss has too much health and the enemies are too plentiful, so you have to use your rewind ability to bring more force to bear on your opposition. Where fighting one-on-one can be a struggle, bringing five friends to the fight can drastically level the playing field.

It is a fun idea, and they supplemented it with a certain ridiculousness by piling on jokes and puns through the characters, story, and dialogue. You are recruited by Dr. Repeatski, who invented the time travel, and needs your help to stop a supervillain. Repeatski has two eye patches, and acts like a gruff, action-movie general should. You meet a skateboarding T-Rex and a dolphin with a gun, because normality is overrated.

But jokes and puns can’t make a good idea into a good game. By virtue of its design, the game felt entirely too repetitive, like you were bashing your head against a problem until it could be solved. You needed a certain number of helpers to fight each boss, and if you made a mistake in your allocation of them, then you had to start the level again from the beginning. It came down to trial and error, failing a certain number of times before you were allowed to succeed, and that gets more than a little frustrating. It pushed me away from the game instead of drawing me in. Sure, the game is funny, but laughing at a game doesn’t make me forgive its flaws.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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