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Time Commando


Reviewed by: Chris McMullen
Author: Adeline Price: Retail:£39.99 UK
Category: Scrolling Beat-em-up Released: September 1996
Platform: DOS. Version: Release
Multiplayer: None. Under Win95:Satisfactory

Graphic modes:320x200x256, 320x400x256, 640x480x256
Controls:Keyboard, joypad.
Sound devices:G.U.S., Soundblaster cards, Soundscape, MS Sound System, General Midi, Roland
ComputerMemoryHD spaceCD speed
Reviewed onP13316M10Mx4
Reviewer's Hardware: SB AWE 32


Making a career of evil...

Time is a pretty complicated thing. Loads of people have written stories about time travel, and there's been one problem that's come up again and again. What if, either deliberately, or accidentally, you managed to change history? Even the slightest thing could cause the temporal structure of the universe to come tumbling down. A sticky problem. And it gets ever worse when you think about paradoxes.

Imagine; if a person killed their great grandfather when he was a boy, they themselves would cease to exist. But if they didn't exist, who was it who killed the great grandfather? It makes my brain hurt just trying to think about it. And so, you'd think that it wouldn't be in the best interests of mankind, for someone to work their way through time, killing and maiming everyone who they came across. But that's exactly what you're encourage to do, in Adeline's latest release, Time Commando.

Caveman Clubbing

Beware the mutant wombles.

Fortunately, there's none of the related temporal problems to worry about in Time Commando, since it's all simulated. The premise behind the game is that some time in the future, scientists have put together a rather expensive piece of temporal related kit. This machine can isolate a period in time, and duplicated it exactly in a 'time bubble' , allowing that period to be explored. Confused? Thought so. The upshot of this is that you can create a perfect simulation of any period in time at all.

And everything's fine, until a rival power gets wind of this breakthrough, and decides to throw a spanner in the works. Or more accurately, a virus. One of their agents introduces a computer virus to the central computer, which then goes a bit mad. The time bubble begins to expand, dragging in everyone in the complex. And this is where you come in. Taking the part of Stan, the one person left in the building, you leap selflessly into the time bubble, determined to get rid of the virus that is even now spreading through the system. Trouble is, the virus isn't too happy on being removed from the computer, and it sends its computer-generated minions after you. It's therefore up to you to pummel your way through baddie after baddie, through a total of nine time periods. And it isn't going to be easy.

Temporal Pagga

Pass me those pliers will you?

Time Commando is 90% beat-em-up, 10% adventure. Every character you come across, no matter how innocent they may look, is intent on seeing the colour of your brains. As you traverse the time periods, you won't find a single ally, or apathetic person, as in Adeline's previous game, Little Big Adventure. I have a feeling that if you were to come across Mother Theresa in this game, she'd be armed with an M16. Fortunately, Stan is no slouch when it comes to brawling. You start off each time period unarmed, but as the game goes on, you can pick up weapons appropriate to each time period; clubs in the Prehistoric Age, right through to laser guns in the Future.

The game plays like a cross between Rebel Assault and the combat sections of Alone in the Dark. You don't have complete freedom of movement in Time Commando; instead, you make your way across each level in one particular direction. You can't deviate far from this path, nor can you re-trace your footsteps. Time Commando isn't too mentally taxing. It's more a case of taking out the baddies before they take you down. The baddies themselves are unique to each time period. There are two levels per time period, with an end-of-level baddie at the end of each; and if you haven't picked up any special weaponry by then, you're in deep trouble.

World 'o violence

Captain Pugwash this ain't.

Time Commando takes the usual game on rails approach to graphics. The backgrounds and background animation is all spooled off the CD, and therefore looks quite good. The actual characters in the game are mapped on top of this, and made up of shaded vectors, much like the creatures in Little Big Adventure.

Sonically, Time Commando doesn't quite make the grade. There are some uninspiring 'thwacks' and 'tings' during combat, as well as a midi music soundtrack. The latter, however , has a tendancy to suddenly stop for no reason at all. And it doesn't start up again till the next level. Time Commando runs under Windows 95, using Direct X, or MSDOS, though it seems to run a little better in DOS. Saves having to re-boot from Windows, I suppose.


Lunch at 'Chez Trench'

Adeline have tried their best to make Time Commando an innovative, involving, and original product. However, the combination of beat-em-up and adventuring doesn't quite work. There's not really enough combat moves, for a start. You're limited to two punches, and one kick. There's no jumping attacks at all. And the adventuring side isn't exactly outstanding either. The most taxing thing you'll have to cope with is finding the right place to push on a wall. And that usually boils down to randomly using the 'action' key in various places.

And Time Commando can be particularly frustrating too, thanks to the engine. Sometimes there seem to be exits in other directions. But can you go there? No. You have to follow the pre-rendered path. On top of all this, you can't go back at all. Just by shuffling forward a step, you could cause the screen to scroll, and put those energy chips out of your reach. And then there's the times when you need a particular weapon to defeat an end of level baddie; or at the end of the eight level, when there's an item you need to have picked up to use at the end of the level. But you've missed it. Can you go back and get it? Er, no. It's reload or restart time. It's niggles like this that stop Time Commando being must have material.


I say we take off, nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

On reflection, while Time Commando is a novelty for a while, it doesn't really have the addictiveness that makes a classic. And I can't really see anyone returning to it once they've finished it. It's a shame; Time Commando could have been a real stunner. As it is, it's worth renting, but not buying. It could have been better.

  • It's fun for a while.
  • There's quite a lot of levels.
  • The 'time travel' thing's entertaining.
  • It's 'on rails'; you don't have total freedom to explore.
  • Combat's not particularly good.

Appeal:Hmm... beat-em-up fans, maybe? It's not really an adventure.
Originality & Storyline:A new twist to time-travelling; Dr Who with lethal weapons.
Graphics & Video:Good; but you need a fast PC for SVGA mode.
Audio:The music's good; the SFX aren't anything special.
Longevity:It's not that easy; there's a couple of days solid play in it.
Presentation:It's all menu orientated; there are passwords and save/load options.
Packaging & Docs:Big box. Thin CD manual. That's all, folks. Oh, and there's a reference card.
Bugs & Problems:Music sometimes cuts out. And if you miss an essential object, you can't go back for it. You're stuck.

Copyright © Chris McMullen for the Games Domain Review, 1996. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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