The game that started it all, and Namco's answer to Sega's Virtua Cop series, and other lightgun arcade games being released at the time. As you could see from the awesome
(ly cheesy) cinematic trailer, the story involves VSSE Special Agent Richard Miller, THE ONE MAN ARMY!!!!, doing his one man army thing to rescue damsel in destress Rachael Macpherson, daughter of the Sercian president, from the clutches of bad guys trying to take over the country. Time Crisis is notorious for its action blockbuster style presentation, and this just marks the standard by which all other games in the series would follow.
While most lightgun games have been traditional Hogan's Alleys
, firing ranges where targets pop up at regular intervals, Time Crisis embraces its action movie style with a more dynamic style.
Every action sequence (kicked off by the announcer yelling "ACTION!!!
" sees you running into some kind of cover before the enemies start raining bullets on you. Using the foot pedal on the arcade cabinet, you'll pop out of cover to return fire; releasing the pedal makes you duck down and reload. This sets the general pace of the game: the idea is to take down the enemies as quickly as possible, exposing yourself to fire just long enough to get your shots off before taking refuge. You can actually survive quite a few hits from small arms fire before losing one of your life markers, but getting hit by guys in red, as well as by explosions, melee attacks, and the occasional environmental hazard (complete with flashing "DANGER!" markers as they approach) will instantly knock one point off; only by taking cover can you avoid them. Of course, you can't just take your sweet time - the game's called TIME Crisis, after all. You're given a set amount of time to clear each segment; failure to do so results in an instant game over regardless of how much life you have left, but shooting the occasional fleeting orange suited guy will buy you a few pecious seconds to continue your rampage.
Time Crisis was a huge hit; the idea of using cover in an action shooter game was something new and unique at the time, and pretty much every modern shooter nowadays uses some kind of cover mechanic. Honestly, I think Namco was ahead of the curve all along: anyone remember the PS2 game "kill.switch", which was centered around heavy use of cover for survival in a third-person shooter? Namco made that. Suck it, Cliffy B.
Since Namco was one of the driving forces behind the PlayStation's initial success with its greatly enhanced arcade ports, including Tekken, Soul Blade, and of course RIIIIIDGE RACERRRRR!!!!!, bringing Time Crisis to the system was a no-brainer, but how did they get facilitate the use of the cover mechanic without a foot pedal? Enter the Guncon
, bundled in with each copy of Time Crisis. This particular light gun featured A and B buttons on the sides of the barrel, allowing for the cover mechanic; just push either one to pop out and release to return. Simple, but effective. The home port also featured a new "Special Mode", an original story mode that has Richard going up against an arms dealer named Kantaris and her syndicate in her hotel headquarters. This mode features branching paths that the player gets put on due to their actions, or lack thereof, during certain sequences: take too long clearing out a bunch of enemies or a boss, and you'll be put on another track due to circumstances beyond your control. Only by doing a near-perfect job and following Kantaris all the way to her escape helicopter can you take her down for good; otherwise you'll just see her get away and the mission will be a failure. Time Crisis also got a direct PS1 exclusive sequel, "Project Titan", in 2001, in which Richard is framed for a crime and the VSSE, sensing something screwy at work, gives him a three-day limit to investigate and clear his name before they take official action. The whole thing winds up being a Kantaris plot to get him out of the way, of course. Gameplay was the same as the original, with the added ability to shift between pieces of cover at certain points for more strategic assaults.