G'day mates! I'm the silver screen's Crocodile Dundee. I'm here to introduce you to Time Trax, a show that hails from my home country of Australia! You call Xena a show? Bah! Now Time Trax was a show. I only got paid $50 American so I refuse to say any more. Sit back, relax, indulge in some Vegemite, and read on!
If youíre one of the handful of people who remember Time Trax, well, this review is for you. But first, I should explain the show to the laymen out there. My expert research on the IMDB tells me that Time Trax was a syndicated show from Australia that aired between 1993 and 1994. The show followed a cop named Darien Lambert who hails from the future. It seems that Dr. Mordecai Sahmbi is stealing fugitives from the future and sending them to the past where the law enforcement isnít as advanced to do his no good dirty work. Lambert, armed with a keychain pea shooter and accompanied by a hologram woman in a credit card, sets out to rustle up the fugitives and put an end to Dr. Sahmbiís antics once and for all.
Time Trax: the game translates into a straightforward and oftentimes frustrating platforming game that wonít hesitate to get a cheap shot on you once in a while. You guide Lambert, armed only with his keychain gun (aka the lamest weapon EVAR) and his knowledge of the martial arts through seven stages while he administers heaping helpings of justice to anyone who gets in the way of said keychain. In between levels youíll receive mission briefings from Selma , your holographic companion who calls your wallet home. Mostly, she just sets the stage for why youíre going from a large building one moment to a jungle the next.
The usual assortment of platforming levels are here, from abandoned warehouses to jungle levels, itís all par for the course as far as platforming games are concerned. The standard platforming levels will have you jumping to avoid obstacles and dealing with lesser enemies who are also armed with key chains with lasers on them. Lambertís keychain is able to take the lesser enemies out in a few hits, while others like security guards and guys with flamethrowers will only be stunned and youíll have to go in close and take them down with a few kicks to the face. Lambert also has the ability to slow time which will cause a type of bullet time effect that will slow everything but you down, though itís not as useful as it sounds. Your time abilities will recharge after use, so you can use them frequently.
The game features some questionable level design and each features their fair share of obstacles that will have you on your toes the entire time with split second jumps and attacks happening often. In addition to running and jumping, you can also grab onto and swing from random vines and pipes to reach otherwise unreachable items. Whether Lambert is in the mood to hold on to these pipes and vines is another question all together, since he seems to only want to hold on half the time which tends to make portions of levels where youíll have to swing from one pipe to another pretty awkward to control and will take multiple attempts. Thereís a good variety to the environments and no two levels look alike, thankfully. For each level youíll encounter obstacles that youíll have to avoid like cinder blocks falling from above or giant wrecking balls rolling around. There are a few places where these obstacles are impossible to avoid; giving the game what seems like a free cheap shot on you. One instance is in the construction site level where you have to climb a ladder to the next platform and placed precariously above that ladder is a pile of cinder blocks that will fall as you reach the top. Jumping off the ladder doesnít help since the blocks fall faster than you and the general clunkiness of the controls just inhibit any kind of quick escape. Youíll find scenarios like this in a couple of other levels and since items that replenish your life are scarce, the game tends to be much harder than it needs to be. If the obstacles donít drive you mad, the frequently respawning enemies will. Enemies will respawn every five seconds in certain areas which amount to even more cheap shots. These frustrating elements culminate in the gameís last level where your life will seemingly be drained with every step thanks to respawning enemies, hidden booby traps in the ground and above you, and nearly invisible bugs and snakes that drop and crawl along the ground. Needless to say, this game seems pretty much unbeatable without the help of save states.
The most entertaining parts of the game are interspersed between the platforming levels where youíll be riding a vehicle and find yourself with the daunting task of taking down a helicopter flying above you. These levels feel less like Time Trax and more like Contra III and are the only levels that feature power-ups for your weapon like a rocket launcher and spread gun. While youíre attempting to shoot the helicopter down, youíll be attacked by robots that fly onscreen and random guys that will drop out and throw grenades. This is about the only time where your time ability is useful.
Visually, Time Trax is decent thanks in part to the variety of levels and the additional baddies the game throws in your way. Lambert is well animated and features a small variety of attack animations. The lesser baddies you encounter donít fare as well and all feature the same animations just with different sprites. The title screen and time manipulation also have some nice mode 7 effects that should be noted.
The game features a decent, but forgettable soundtrack aside from what I believe to be the Time Trax theme on the title screen and when the game begins. Lambert and the enemies heíll face all have the same sound bytes which can be a little annoying. The sounds of the explosions and Lambertís pea shooter are all typical SNES fare which fail to impress, but donít disappoint either.
In the end, Time Trax is a straightforward platformer that sticks to the 16-bit platforming formula rather than innovate. While the time manipulation mechanic is a nice idea, itís not implemented well at all. From what Iíve read and played, it manages to decent job of the overall theme of the TV show which is really all one can ask for. In a nutshell, Time Trax is essentially the disposable camera of SNES games. Itís good for a few hours, but in the end youíll just forget about it and move on to another one.
- Brad Hicks (Dr. Swank), SwankWorld Media