Name: Time Gal
Format: Mega-CD / Sega-CD
Genre: FMV - Timed Action
Region Reviewed: PAL
Year of Release: 1993
Part of the wondrous joy of playing videogames is that it allows you to do amazingly cool things that in reality cannot be done for a whole multitude of reasons. The last time I checked human beings can’t fly using just a snazzy looking cape and/or powers given to them by the sun and I know for a fact that I can’t take on an infinite amount of enemies all on my own using bullets from a gun that seems to never need an ammo clip change. I also can’t time travel!
Speaking of that last part, Time Travel pops up quite a bit in the gaming universe and many titles completely focus around the aspect that hoping through the ages can massively help alter the present and future events. The evil person in me would love to do this, if for no other reason than to amass all those sporting event results and get super rich by betting on them, the good person in me however feels humanity needs to be protected against such selfish whims, it’s tricky! With that in mind I think it’s best to just stick with living out my time jumping fantasies through the power of old videogame titles and with luck one such game that completely focuses on said topic just so happened to jump into my console for a seriously play.
Originally starting out as an Arcade game that was inspired by the now legendary Dragon’s Lair title ‘Time Gal’ is a simple concept where you must guide the heroine (Reika) through numerous and perilous times in history in order to catch up and stop and evil mastermind (Luda) from changing the future by altering the past. Starting out in 4001 A.D. Luda steals a time device to begin his evil plan to turn himself into the ruler of everything and everyone and to also destroy those who would oppose him. Luckily our protagonist, Reika has her own time travel device handy and immediately sets off to chase him and bring him to justice. One has to wonder where these numerous devices come from, I guess there was a sale on at RadioShack or something?
Presented in a window with pretty graphics borders around the outside, Time Gal, plays very much like Dragons lair in that it’s all pre-drawn and recorded animation that plays out depending on the players choice. Now before people run away with the thought of multiple choices and routes this is not how these games work, one either selects the correct course of action or a death animation is cued and it’s game over. Controls are extremely simple making this much more of a interactive anime rather than straight up videogame and with this in mind it’s extremely shallow, simple and lacks replayability. What it does have going for it however is a mixture of presentation, great animation, cool story and bags and bags of humour and charm.
Each level is essentially a time zone where Reika will appear and almost instantly be in serious peril. Animals and soldiers, monsters and explosions will fix on her as she essentially run’s, jumps, rolls, stumbles and shoots her way through more and more insane situations. From Sea Monsters to gladiators in roman style arenas everyone is out to get her, all the while she has to keep pace with Luna and bring him down. To begin with you are gonna die, a lot! Because the whole point of these types of games are a mixture of muscle memory and learning the sequences of things. Controls are a matter of tapping up, down, left or right on the D-Pad as a light indicator appears on the screen around the main action window and sometimes pressing a button to fire Reika’s gun. From an interactive point of view it’s the bare minimum however back in the mid 1980’s when this first was created technology didn’t allow for the complex nature of 3D action adventure games like we have now.
The Mega-CD version includes several extras over it’s arcade original such as scene select menus, opening and ending title sequences, extra music and the ability to play it all back as a movie once completed. It also have several difficulty levels with the top one having no hints at all so that’s where your memory comes in. Part of what was referred to as the ’Reaction Action’ series of games that originated as arcade titles ported by ‘Wolf Team’ and others Time Gal with it’s use of anime drawing styles looks cleaner and more graphically pleasing than the others like Cobra Command and as such has absolutely aged the best out of the whole series, in my opinion that is.
Sound is great, making full use of the CD format of the Mega-CD add-on unit however graphically the colour palette suffers massively compared to the original however for the hardware it’s on it’s perfectly fine. It’s extremely easy as long as you have any form of memory and although you won’t play it over and over again there is a sense of completion involved meaning you will get a lot out of it. As one of the FMV era games it’s a lovely snapshot of where gaming was moving towards and the story is indeed cool.
The lead character is both cute and strong and easy to identify with plus the bad guy evokes enough moments of being a tool to what to race through time to slap him right in the face! Overall it’s more a nostalgic trip than class game however it’s absolutely worth a serious play if for no other reason than to see why people were getting excited about this new CD technology for game consoles. A slice of history mixed with time travel that felt like the future then and now stands as a good testament to what gaming used to be like and where what we have now comes from. It’s pretty good but it won’t and never will change the future, just a cool fantasy trip down that lovely old memory lane.
Verdict:- At one point in time these games were seen as the very future of the entire industry and the best way to showcase the new emerging CD-ROM technology. While this proved to be a very short lived idea some of the games from the FMV era were pretty cool for their day and lovely reminders of those unique moments a young gaming industry conjurned up. It's also so superbly 1990's.
Far too short, far too easy and with little reason to go back to it Time Gal is more a short smirk or wink than full on smile and that's perfectly ok. What's there is fun, for a short while.
Second Opinion:- Short games that make no sense and repeat stuff is what this robot's fantasies are made of. Back in the 1980's I set the benchmark for short intense gaming experiences and Wolf Team seem to have picked up my batton and run with it some more. Good on em'
It looks cool, plays well and is funny. Yeah it's short but then so is Warwick Davis and everyone loves him!
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10