Time Pilot Review
Phantasy Star Universe box art
System: X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Konami 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Konami 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug 2006 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 - online 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Review by Patrick 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Just when we get a little meat to our coin-op ports, they still figure out a way to muck it up.
by Patrick Evans

I have been keeping track of the weekly Xbox Live Arcade releases, and most of them, especially Galaga and Pacman, have disappointed me. Both games have been featured on numerous compilation discs with enhanced visual modes or other enhancements, but players on the Xbox 360 are stuck with only the arcade original. Konami has trumped the other guys with Time Pilot by providing a little meat in their release, but it’s a shame that these enhancements had to come on such a mediocre game.

Time Pilot screenshot

Time Pilot was a 1982 arcade release that puts players in a time-traveling fighter plane. In this plane, the player will travel through various times eras of military technology in search of parachuting pilots to rescue. When you begin, you combat WWI bi-planes, but by the time you finish the game in 2001 you are battling UFOs. As you continue to shoot individual enemies down, you will coax the level “boss” to appear, and shooting it down will advance you to the next level. The game is as simple as it gets, but a couple technical problems get it down.

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If while blasting through a stage, you see a pilot, you have to turn to grab him almost immediately or risk losing him off-screen. For whatever reason, the game outside the player screen is blank, and there is very little room off-screen were objects can reside. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but it gets annoying to lose a point bonus because you decided to take out that entire formation of helicopters instead. Another quirk of the game is its firing. I don’t know how sensitive the game was in the arcade, but it only takes a couple taps to sustain a constant barrage of fire. Achieving such a high rate with such ease really cheapens the effect, and you don’t necessarily feel the urgency you get with, say, Galaga, which requires a button hit for every single shot.

For once, there are a few extras added to this Arcade release, and Konami didn’t simply stick us with the straight arcade version. There are options to set both the visuals and the audio to Enhanced. Enhanced graphics add more detailed explosions, more clouds on the screen while enhanced sound effects add a little depth to the explosions on screen. Enhanced graphics actually makes it harder to play, however. Clouds become visual obstacles, especially in levels like one and three, where the enemy planes/helicopters blend in with the stage. This kind of “more difficult” isn’t healthy, but at least Konami gave us the option instead of settling with the simply arcade version like Namco has.

Time Pilot screenshot

Another addition that many other games don’t offer is Two-player Co-op or Competitive play. Players can actually play this game with a friend online, though it really isn’t anything special. In reality, playing online with a friend is like playing off-line with a chat open. Again, getting the option at least may be more important than the actual execution, though it doesn’t really add up to an endorsement here.

I’m sure that enhanced graphics and sound were available in earlier ports on Konami arcade compilations, but including them here means a lot for Xbox owners bored with plain ol’ Galaga and Pacman. Time Pilot isn’t a bad game; it just hasn’t aged as well as its Namco brethren. As it stands, Konami’s Arcade release should serve as a minimum standard as far as added material goes, but it’s hard to warrant a download when you could just as easily play a couple more tournaments of Texas Hold’em.

Features:

  • Six huge, dynamic environments to fight through.
  • Over 20 bonus items and ship enhancements with amazing full screen special effects.
  • Over 100 different enemy waves to encounter.
  • Mid- and end-boss encounters in each level.
  • Unique mutation factors influence weapons fire, damage given and taken, and powerup effects.
  • Multiple parallel difficulty paths can be chosen throughout levels while playing, raising replay and broadening audiences.
  • Five difficulty settings offer challenging game play for beginners and aces.

    By Patrick Evans
    CCC Staff Writer

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    3.5

    Graphics
    It offers enhanced graphics, but playing the original is easier because of poor color choices in stages two and three.

    3.0

    Control
    The plane controls just like it did in 1982, and the analog stick holds up relatively well. Points are deducted for an odd firing button.

    2.5

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Like all other coin-op releases - nothing much here to listen to.

    3.0

    Play Value
    Time Pilot gives a little more effort than other Arcade releases, but the game itself isn't nearly as fun as Galaga or Pacman originally.

    3.3

    Overall Rating - Fair
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Screenshots / Images

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