Captain Temporium in Review – Time Pilot for a New Generation

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Depending on the kind of shooter I’m playing I’ll usually mention one of two reference points from the “glory days” of gaming: 1942 or Time Pilot.  This definitely falls to the latter for comparison, as one might even assume without seeing the name that it was in fact a remake of the 1982 classic (yeah, you read that right, I’m old school).  The truth is, even if it has nothing to do with Time Pilot in any way, shape or form, I’m more than happy to label it a “spiritual successor”.  The game has the same frantic, 360 degree playing field, nicely updated visuals, and a difficulty level that would make Flappy Bird fans proud.

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Sadly the game doesn’t set up any background for you, but I kind of get the feeling that you have a Quantum Leap meets Avatar thing going.  You control a futuristic fighter that travels back in time, destroying everything it encounters in every time period it jumps to.  As you eliminate the enemy you’ll collect what is oddly referred to as Okamoto, and when you’ve accumulated enough of that you’ll face off with the boss for that time period.  The bosses aren’t particularly dynamic or unique, but they require a lot of hits to destroy, especially if you don’t have any upgrades.  And, they have this nasty habit of constantly shooting at you.  You start off with four lives, and all it takes is one hit to be minus one of them.  You can earn additional lives via crates that parachute into the playing field when you destroy certain enemies, but there are caveats.

So far you’re thinking that this sounds like a standard shooter, but there’s a difficultly level that you don’t see much outside of bullet hell shooters.  To start with, you can only take a single shot and lives are limited unless you get one inside of the randomly packed crates that occasionally float your way.  Speaking of which, if you shoot a crate a couple of times it blows up along with whatever was inside of it.  You can “auto fire” by keeping your finger on the fire button, but not only will your weapon eventually overheat, you’ll also actually lose score for every bullet that doesn’t hit something.  The clouds aren’t just for decoration either; aircraft can actually be hidden behind them (and so can bullets).  Finally, and what might be the worst part of all for the less skilled players like myself, there is no level selection in this game.  Basically, you make it as far as you can, and when you lose all of your lives you have to start over from the very beginning.

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Controls consist of a thumbpad on one side of the screen to control the fighter and three buttons on the other to activate your weapon, shield and afterburner.  You can pick which side the thumbpad is on versus the three buttons, but you can’t rearrange the individual controls to your liking.  The thumbpad is responsive enough, but sometimes it seems like you have to hit the fire button just right in order for it to trigger.  There are 5 different leaderboards to place on, and at this point there are no achievements to earn.  While I’m typically not a fan of the “lose all your lives and start completely over” paradigm, I’d say my biggest beef with this game is that it completely does away with one of my favorite aspects of modern shooters: the ability to permanently upgrade your ship.  I’m still really enjoying the game, but I miss that aspect of game play.

The visuals have a “modern retro” look to them.  They’re not really pixilated, but they also don’t necessarily look like something you’d expect from a game released today.  Luckily that actually works for the most part.  There are some decent effects, especially when your ship blows up, and I like the way the clouds look.  The fact that they actually act as cover for the ships is cool as well, though it has lead to plenty of deaths for me.  The sound effects are pretty standard for this type of game, though I do like the voiceover that lets you know what power up you just received or when it’s time to jump to a new era.  Sadly there is no music in the game.

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While officially having nothing to do with Konami’s classic, I think Captain Temporium makes for a nice modern update to Time Pilot.  It can get frustrating having to start from the very first time period every time a new game begins, and the firing button could be a bit more responsive.  Overall, though, Captain Temporium provides a decent casual shooter experience with a somewhat hardcore difficulty level.  The balance might not appeal to everyone, but if you’re looking for something that just feels different from the standard vertical or horizontal shooters, this is the game for you.

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App Summary
Title: Captain TemporiumDeveloper: Mark Hessburg
Reviewed Ver:1.1Min OS Req: iOS 8.3
Price:$0.99App Size:180.93MB
  • “spiritual successor” to Time Pilot
  • Difficulty level makes you work for victory
  • 360 degree playing field feels fresh
  • Visuals have a nice “modern retro” look
  • Have to start from beginning with each game
  • Fire button is a bit finicky
  • Cloud cover causes unavoidable deaths
  • No background music

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