Over 8 million people purchased Halo 3. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sold a whopping 12 million. And Nintendo can’t defecate out Pokémon and “Wii Insert Random Thing To Do Here” games fast enough to completely satisfy the masses. But with all these amazing successes, there have been numerous games and even complete series that have fallen to the wayside. Remember: for every Super Mario Bros., there’s a Shutokou Battle 2: Drift King Keichii Tsuchiya & Masaaki Bandoh. As a proud gamer, I feel that it is my privilege—nay, my duty—to take some time and offer a brief glimpse at many of the games that disappeared into bargain bins and trash bins alike due to overshadowing from more prominent titles, as well as titles that will forever remain sequestered within one region of the world. You’d better be prepared to be educated a little, because there is much that you haven’t seen.
May 2012: Time Zone
Well, hello, GameCola visitors! Welcome back to “Gamera Obscura,” your source for obscure games! And with me is my ever-verbose sidekick, the Ominous Voice!
I warn you all: sometimes our friend here gets a bit rowdy and says things that could be misconstrued as rude or ignorant. But please be aware that he doesn’t always mean the things he says. He is just cranky sometimes! Isn’t that right, Ominous Voice?
Hmmm…something’s not right here. Aren’t you supposed to be cantankerous? Aren’t you supposed to complain about how horrible it is to work at the GameCola Sweatshop and how all my obscure games are terrible?
…All right, you! What have you done with the real Ominous Voice?
I’M SORRY. MY PHYSICIAN HAS PRESCRIBED METHYLIN TO CALM MY NERVES. I AM MUCH MORE CALM NOW AND AM READY TO PARTAKE IN ANOTHER OF YOUR FINE OFFERINGS.
O…kay. Well, this month, I’d like to talk about Time Zone for the Famicom—you know, that Japanese NES everyone’s been talkin’ about! Time Zone was published in 1991 by Sigma Entertainment, a company that has since become quite defunct. It follows the simple story of a young lad whose girlfriend is stolen by Dr. Time and transported to different eras of history as the courageous boy follows them and defeats whatever crazy minions he has hired. Why a time-traveling scientist would want to steal a young girl, I’m uncertain, though I imagine it’s a tad perverse. Our hero visits a variety of locales, including the Wild West, the age of dinosaurs, and even the future! (Well, okay, it’s actually 2010 A.D., which has already passed, and our world certainly did not look like what the designers assumed would happen…)
INTERESTING. GO ON.
Mmmm…yeah. Anyway, Time Zone is a basic platformer. Our hero uses his trusty red baseball cap as a boomerang of sorts, being able to easily defeat his enemies with a quick whip of the ol’ chapeau. As well, he can collect bells throughout the stages, which increases a meter resembling a clock at the bottom of the screen. Once it hits noon, you get temporarily invincibility and the adjoining ability to ride on a skateboard, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the terrain you’re traversing.
Time Zone also sports a nifty little map screen to show off where you’re headed next. In every world is a bonus stage to visit, which is a quiz game run by a character from that era (for example, a Tyrannosaurus Rex operates the quiz in 9999 B.C.). Answering correctly will land you three extra lives. How a dinosaur can produce a game show, I have no idea, but he certainly can!
THIS IS INTRIGUING.
Whaaa—ahem, hmmm…yes. There really isn’t much more to this game. It looks cute and pleasant, although there isn’t much in the way of details in the graphics. The surroundings lack any patterns or textures, although the main characters and other enemies are well-animated. The music is cheery as well, adding to the sweet ambience. But do keep in mind that this game isn’t as easy as it looks. It will require some serious skill to get past most stages. I might even declare it to be more difficult than a Mario game!
IT MUST BE RATHER DIFFICULT, THEN. SHOULD I SEEK THIS GAME?
Actually, if you DO happen to own a Famicom, Time Zone is indeed worth your time. It’s not the greatest title in the library, but it can definitely provide hours of pleasurable gaming. Oh yeah, and it also lets you see a stereotypical Native American person hopping around, beating a drum as an enemy. How wonderfully amazing and racist!
THAT IS NICE.
…All right, that’s it!! You!! YOU!! You don’t need to be on those pills! I liked you the way you were!! I miss your off-colour commentary! Frankly, this side of you, I do not like it one bit! Plus it makes the column seem even more dull! Dare I say it: your pissy attitude is the reason why this article has been so successful! It keeps people coming back! Please, just go back to your old self!
*sigh* Oh dear. Well, thanks for tuning in. I guess we’ll have to find out next month whether or not the Ominous Voice will ever revert back to the way he was…