Time Crisis

Time Crisis

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

With a single innovation, Namco’s Time Crisis set a new standard in light gun games. With one simple pedal, Time Crisis went beyond “point and shoot” gameplay to add a new element: dodging.

At the base of the game cabinet was a silver pedal—dubbed the “action” pedal—which controlled your first-person view. When pressed, the game moved into action, with pistol drawn and enemies advancing. But when the pedal was released, your character ducked behind a convenient crate, wall, etc., to reload and take a breather.

It was tempting to simply play “hide and shoot,” firing off a few rounds and ducking back to safety, but "Time Crisis" wasn’t just a catchy title. Players were racing against a ticking clock, trying to rescue the President’s daughter from terrorist kidnappers before time ran out. An empty clock meant “Game Over” just as surely as an empty life meter, making excessive ducking a strict no-no.

Rendered in polygon-based 3-D, Time Crisis took gamers through several stages of action, facing off against numerous soldiers and a handful of tough bosses along the way. But enemies weren’t the only things that reacted to your gunfire. Backgrounds took hits as well, shattering glass, knocking down objects (which could even be used to K.O. the bad guys), and so on. To further enhance the game’s realism, Namco provided players with a recoiling gun, giving a bit of kick to every shot fired.

Together with Point Blank (another Namco title), Time Crisis helped revolutionize the arcade shooter, and players were thrilled. The company released Time Crisis II in 1998, adding yet another treat: two-player interaction. But rather than simply attaching two guns to one screen, Time Crisis II gave each player a separate screen with a separate view of the same action. This unique cooperative gameplay, together with the popular elements of the first game, made the game a very worthy sequel and another arcade hit.

A third installment, Crisis Zone, arrived in 1999. The game was back to a single player, but to compensate for the loss of a partner, the game armed that player with a submachine gun. Players now had a shield as well, which was raised by releasing the familiar action pedal. There was a price to pay for your new offensive and defensive powers, however. Enemies were now much tougher, as even common flunkies wore protective body armor and had energy meters above their heads.

The Time Crisis series didn’t create a new genre of arcade game, but its seemingly simple innovations made a world of difference for shooting fans. Together with the success of the Tekken franchise and Alpine Racer, Time Crisis put early 80’s arcade titans Namco back on the map, proving that great ideas are usually well rewarded.

Arcade Machine Release History

1996 - Time Crisis
1998 - Time Crisis II
1999 - Crisis Zone

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