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 Post subject: Time Pilot (Arcade - PS - PS2 - GBA - DS - X360 - PS4)
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 9:46 pm 


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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
More classic arcade shooting, this time is another short talk. I'm talking Time Pilot by Konami.


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For Konami and Centuri, Space-Time Anomalies are their playground.


Time Pilot is a very basic shooter where the objective is simple, destroy a specific number of enemies in order to fight the boss. What made this game different from any other shooter was the gameplay format. While at first it looks like a vertical scroll shooter, actually it is able to move on any direction, making it an All-Range shooter with an never-ending scenario with zero restrictions unlike other vertical and horizontal shmups of the time and some of today.
With such liberty of movement you can only expect one thing: Swarms of enemies. However, they're easy to take since all the small planes need one shot to go down, while the medium sized ships go down with four bullets. To unlock the boss fight, you're gonna need to shoot down 56 planes. While your ship only has its bullets to fight, your enemies are equipped with secondary weapons which at first they're easy to avoid in the first two stages since they're conventional bombs. However, as you advance from 1910, 1940 to 1970's, the technology evolves with them, introducing the homing missiles in the 70's Vietnam War timeline and the 83's "Jet Age". Enemy technology reaches its peak in 2001 where the UFO's have homing bullets and laser weaponry. To survive in this space-time massacre you can rescue parachuted Time Pilots who've got shot down in their incursions throughout time and shooting down groups of enemies adding 1,000 and 2,000 bonuses. 10,000 points grants you a 1up, the second one at 60,000 and an additional jet every 50,000 points.
As an early 80's shmup, this game doesn't have an ending, and it loops back to 1910 once you've complete Stage 5 (A.D. 2001). Yeah, this is one of those classics where the best player is decided by how far they've went in the game.


Time Pilot was ported on many consoles like the Atari 2600, Atari 8-Bit and MSX, but for this review I'm gonna focus on the most Arcade-accurate ports. One of them is the PlayStation as part of Konami Arcade Classics. It was also released on the PlayStation 2 as one of the titles of the Oretachi Gesen Zoku series where Contra and Aero Fighters were ported, and like such it is an arcade perfect conversion with physical goods as bonus such as collector card and replicas of the arcade marquee. Time Pilot was ported to handheld consoles like the Gameboy Advance as part of Konami Collector's Series Arcade Advanced and the Nintendo DS on the Konami Classic Series: Arcade Hits. Although it looks pretty faithful to the original arcade, the Gameboy Advance version feels like if the game screen was too small for a handheld console, resulting in a quite "crammed" game. The only point on its favor is the inclusion of a hidden stage that takes place in 1,000,000 BC (????BC on the game screen) where you have to shoot down pterosaurs.
Its last port was on the PlayStation 4 as part of the Arcade Archives series, where it featured a Hi-Score Mode and a Caravan Mode. If you've readed my ACA Neogeo shmup reviews you'd be familiarized with those two. In case you've missed them, I'll give you a quick rundown. Hi-Score Mode is the game mode focused on racking a high score and make your way to the leaderboards. You only have your default amount of lives and no continues. Caravan Mode is the 5-minute "How far you can go" game mode in the purest style of Hudson's Star Soldier and Starship Hector. Pausing in both Caravan or High score will force you to start the game all the way back from the beginning. These two modes features achievements based on reaching the required scores to unlock them.



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The 80's: Italo-Disco, Miami Vice and Fighter jets trying to kill you.

When it comes to graphics, the game features a simple color palette but with some fluid animations which were pretty well made for the time being, the most notorious is the player ship when it moves, making it look quite like a CG due to the way was animated. On the Gameboy Advance port, some animations were simplified like the "Time Warping effect", and the stage transitions are made with "fade to black" effects rather than change "immediately" like the arcade, while the rest of the graphics remain arcade-accurate. Only the prehistoric feels out of place, like a fan-made stage as the pterosaurs look very 16-bit-esque compared with the rest of the game's sprites, just like some of the bosses of Darius R which were re-cycled from the PC Engine's Darius Plus.
The scenery doesn't have too much to talk about as we have clouds in 80% of the game, with only the color of the sky changing from blue to sky blue and purple. Only the last stage is black with asteroids replacing the clouds as it takes place on space. Also, the 1983 stage features enemy jets that looks like your ship

The sound department only has one tune that plays when it starts the game, leaving the rest of the game silent with a few sound effects, the most common will be your shots. On the GBA port, the sound effects sound different and more of an Atari-like tune something quite disappointing since the GBA is a much superior hardware compared to the original arcade. The pterosaur stage feels also fan-made just like the graphics, since the pterosaur hissing sounds like digitized screeches, something very advanced for an 1983's arcade game.


TIME CURIOSITIES
- According to Yoshiki Okamoto, Time Pilot was initially rejected by his boss at Konami, who assigned Okamoto to work on a driving game instead. Okamoto secretly gave instructions to his programmer to work on his idea, while pretending to be working on a driving game in front of his boss.
- Centuri distributed the game in the USA.




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That's how they imagined they year 2001 back then.

Time Pilot is a classic shooter that innovated on its gameplay format which broke with the standard shmup genres. Despite its simplicity, it managed to survive up to the XBOX 360 and the PlayStation 4, so its already an accomplishment.
It's distributor, Centuri said "We're Inventing What The Future Will Bring" and I swear it survived the early 2010's, which were now part of our past.
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