This 3D action/adventure/beat em up PlayStation/PC game was also released for the Saturn, Japan only. It was mostly slammed by critics. When I fired it up for the first time, I had my reservations. Much to my surprise and delight, I had a blast playing through Time Commando
As Stanley, special agent of S.A.V.E (Special Action for Virus Elimination) you travel through time to put an end to a deadly virus on the verge of corrupting civilization and mankind as we know it. The game takes you through several eras in Earth's history and, even the future, in an attempt to avert a major chronological disaster. The game is played via a 3rd person view with the camera panning forward... so yes, it's a linear affair. It's a bit annoying that you can't back trek, but that's a minor gripe
As you progress through the levels there's a meter at the top filling up slowly. When full, Stanley will die. Thankfully, scattered throughout the levels are blue memory chips. Collect as many as you can, for in each level there are "hubs" where you can deposit the chips and reduce the time meter. This is pretty cool as it keeps the game moving and puts a tense atmosphere on the whole game
Controls are as follows:
Up = move up Down = move backward Right = turn right Left = turn left
Identical to Resident Evil or Alone in the Dark. In fact, it has some other AitD similarities... graphically for one
A = attack This is neat. You have three attacks. Hold A. Stanley assumes the action pose. Press up for a mighty swing of whatever weapon you're wielding. Left for a medium swipe, and right for a quick jab. Down for block. You can throw all manner of left right up combos
B = check items
C = jump backward (AKA "evade")
X = switch weapons to the right
Y = switch weapons to the left
Z = giant "leap of faith"
R = side step jump to the right
L = side step jump to the left
The game opens with a funky intro. You can tell the world is in some kind of futuristic distress. Stanley is sent packing to the Prehistoric times, and this is where your adventure begins
The first stage opens with you at the bottom of the screen, and up top is this burly brown caveman. My bro walked in and laughed, saying, "Hey this looks realistic... then again it looks like someone made this in their garage!"
I laughed and agreed. It has a nice look... but then at the same time it's kinda crappy too. It's all part of the game's charm
Another charm: how unintentionally funny it is
So I moved Stanley up to this ape caveman. Suddenly an energy bar pops up, just like a beat em up. So I knew we weren't going to have tea and cookies. I kicked him upside his head and he bounced back grunting. I laughed my ass off. A couple kicks later I put him out of his grunting misery. Then his friend popped out of the bushes and I took care of him as well. It was fun in a VERY hokey sort of way. Stanley looks and moves in a funny fashion
Thankfully, it's really only Stanley and the cavemen who look laughable. The other enemies look pretty good. After you beat two cavemen you battle a sabetooth tiger! Sweet. I knew then that this game was going to be pretty fun/cool in a weird off-shoot kind of way. I can't help but grin every time I kick the tiger in the face and he falls back. I love evading his leaping attacks and then pounding him into submission, heh heh...
Eventually you beat up a caveman and steal his club. You can also collect rocks to throw at the enemies... it's freaking hilarious!
Each time zone has two stages and usually concludes with an end boss
The guardians for the first time zone includes a pissed off gorilla and a bear. Laugh your ass off as you toss a rock at the gorilla's head, or when you stab the bear in the eyes with the spear you've collected. Good good stuff...
It's cool how things open up. You're standing upstairs and below you a lady is approaching slowly. She's holding a dagger behind her back. Typical women! Kick her butt and then take her dagger. After this, an old man with a bigger knife approaches. Repeat. Then you go on to face guards and all sort of beefy bullies. The more I played it the more I liked it
Another charm of Time Commando is that in each period you get new weapons to toy with, each one representative of that era. In Prehistory you have a club, spear, mega club and rocks. In Roman Empire: dagger, two-edged knife, sling, trident and shield and even a gladiator axe to battle the bull boss with!
Hell you can even pick up a pitchfork-like weapon. Then walk upstairs as a bad guy is coming downstairs... proceed to poke him in the knees to death... it's a simple little, but brilliant, pleasure
At one point you're dumped underground to do battle with a mid-boss in the form of a LION!
You start off battling two white-clothed karate men. They wheel cart and flip around like mad men, and block a lot too. Then you face masked ninjas. Take their sword and ninja stars! You even confront a paint-covered woman who throws fans. The coolest part was fighting this one ninja... in the background some old man's raking hay, minding his own business. After you beat the ninja the old man charges after you. Talk about random and bizarre! But lotsa damn fun
At the end of stage 1 you face a sumo wrestler. He guards the entrance to the house. In the dirt there's a huge circle drawn just like sumo matches. He's such a huge target, it's so fun to pelt him with the ninja stars and fans from a-far. Then dodge his rolling attacks and proceed to beat him over the head with your big stick! [Er.... oh no you dih-ent! -Ed.]
The end boss for stage 2 is a huge bipedal dragon! Way cool
EUROPEAN MIDDLE AGES
Starting off on a drawbridge, a short man in armor carrying a mace greets you. You can send him sailing over the bridge plummetting to his premature demise! But if you do this, you can't collect his weapon. Don't fret, as you face a clone immediately thereafter. Ahhh, the fat bald monks... there's nothing like cracking those fools over the skull with a knight's sword, heh heh. The stage 1 boss is the first boss that gave me fits... the black armored knight. To beat him you MUST collect the giant sword that is a bit tricky to find...
Stage 2 boss... CHEESE AND RICE man! Freaking tough. Big knight wearing a skeleton mask... creepy. His lair is pretty spooky and he wields a giant axe! Better collect that bow and arrow...
I won't spoil the rest of the game, but here are the rest of the stages with some notes...
Weapons in this period include a pistol and a blow pipe among others. A BLOW PIPE! Seriously, does it really get any better than that? Here you even use a spanish sword to square off with dirty pirates. They block a lot, and if you block too, you can get some epic cool sword-clanging fights going
Shotgun, revolver, twin revolvers, rifle and dynamite... resolve your inner cowboy here. It's a riot shooting down the baddies
Grenades, Rocket Launcher, Bayonet Rifle, etc. Plenty of violence here. In the very beginning of stage 2 there's a dog and an old man. Tip for ya: do not fight them. If you don't, they'll join forces with you. But lemme tell you it sure is tempting when you see you've got the old man in your crosshairs *evil grin*
Battle space tech warriors and aliens... plasma guns, mono-molecular yo-yo, cannon arm (that slows you down tremendously when you're carrying it), space suit and plasma grenade
This is it... the existence of our universe as we know it, hangs in your hands...
Now, having said ALL of this, I do want to make this clear. This is not a great game, or even a good game. The combat loses a bit of its charm and novelty after a while, and I found the later levels to be not nearly as fun as the earlier ones. The control could use some work, and the camera can be a detriment at times. The game speed is slow
However, it scores points for originality, charm and fun in that "it's so goofy and bad it's almost good" kind of way. Would I recommend this game? If you're intrigued and can get it for $10 or less, sure, go for it. I got my copy for 99 cents and can't complain now, can I?
Lastly, the game is operated per password. Here are passwords for any of you who may own or will own this game, and need the help:
Take Time Commando for what it is, and you may get quite a kick out of it. In many ways you could almost classify it as a beat 'em up. The best thing about the game is going through all the time zones and battling the various different enemies with cool weapons from that time frame. That, to me, is worth the trip. I'll remember TC as one goofy hilarious action game. It's got a unique charm and is definitely a guilty pleasure-type. I'm glad I picked it up