The apex of indie platforming, Super Time Force Ultra (STFU) is the love child of Contra and Back to the Future, modernized for today's society.
A friend showed me this game, and at first glance I was convinced that it had a lot of potential. As an indie platforming game sailing a sea of indie platforming games, STFU does well to prove its uniqueness. We all remember the side scrolling platformer Shmup Contra, right? Now, imagine Contra resurrected, add some time travel, sprinkle it with fun gameplay and incredible visuals, and serve it with a side of internet jokes. The result is amazing.
STFU heavily bases its level transversal and progression on the popular Nintendo title Contra. In order to advance in some sections, you'll need to eliminate vast hordes of enemies and armored fortifications. The Super Time Force is composed originally of 3 characters, each with their own attacks, charged and basic. More characters can be unlocked down the line, and their mechanics follow a similar format. What keeps the game interesting is the use of a time limit, which can be overcome through the STF's ability to manipulate time to their advantage. Did one of your fighters die? Go back in time and prevent their death by taking out the baddie that killed them! Large gate that takes 10 seconds to destroy? Go back in time 4 times, spawn 4 more fighters, and destroy it in 2 seconds! It's as Hollywood as it gets, which I'm sure is what the devs were going for. While it may sound complicated, the tutorial level can do you a lot of good, and the Helladeck (named as such because the deck is hella in every sense of the word) contains dozens of practice levels for you to perfect the art of time travel battle.
The mini campaigns, which are just different periods of time such as 3048 CE, 1,000,000 BCE, and so on, follow a somewhat noticable and linear structure: Land on something stupid with your space pod, time battle your way through no man's land, take out a boss at the end of the level. Each level has 3 sub levels organized into 1-1, 1-2, and 1-3, the final level being the boss. Completion of one of these mini campaigns bestows upon you a fun cutscene, some humorous dialogue between the Super Time Force captain and his team, and the ability to replay the campaign for a better score or to get those items you never earned, which contributes heavily to the replay value.
In an 8-bit world, STFU looks gorgeous. There's a lot of ambience to be seen and absorbed, and really contributes to one's feeling of the game. The animations are incredibly smooth for pixel art, much like Crawl. The art is incredibly well done, the pixel graphics don't look like rendered trash, and as irrelevant as it is, I feel like it's worth mentioning that the Steam artwork is done by one of the artists for Adventure Time, which is cool too. There's a downside, however. The game's time travel system runs on each linear continuum of one specific fighter, so any fighter will also have to render the data of every fighter in a previous space-time-continuum, which can make for some lag on low end computers. Dozens of fighters and a load of minigun bullets, rockets, grenades, and explosions on the screen at one time will sufficiently affect your ability to play, if not hinder it slightly. Aside from that, the game runs flawlessly.
Pros and Cons
+++Awesome and innovative gameplay and visuals
++Extremely enjoyable storyline and dialogue
++Runs well on nearly every computer
++Gamepad supported and highly recommended
+Fun easter eggs and other goodies
+Saxton Hale and the Pyro are unlockable characters in STFU
---Can have a very short lifespan in your list of installed games if you finish games quickly, maybe 6 hours of gameplay
--Time travel can be confusing and even frustrating at times
-The humor may not be for everybody. I mean, some people just don't like "♥♥♥♥" being replaced with "fudge"
But other than that, if you love platformers, pop internet culture, and explosions, you deserve this game.