Timeline of Time Crisis

Namco’s (later Bandai Namco) Time Crisis is a first-person on-rails light gun shooter series of arcade video games. Today we will discuss the games while skipping the spin-offs. The V.S.S.E. (Vital Situation, Swift-Elimination), a fictional organization in the series, must send in its highly skilled agents to eliminate any security threats.

— WAIT —

The series focuses on shooting all on-screen enemies in an area within a specific time limit to continue on to the next area and complete the level. The franchise’s distinctive feature is its cover system: the player steps on a foot pedal (or a button command in the console versions until the fifth game) to have the player character emerge from cover and attack enemies, and releases the pedal to get behind cover, protecting the character from enemy attacks but leaving them unable to shoot. In Time Crisis 5, the pedal has been redesigned as two pedals, one in the left and one in the right, to give the player 2 positions from which to emerge from cover and catch enemies unaware. The player must take cover to reload their standard gun. Time Crisis 3 introduced new weapons: a machine gun, shotgun, and grenade launcher, that have limited ammunition but can be replenished by killing certain enemies. To switch weapons in Time Crisis 3 and 4, the player must press the trigger while behind cover; in Time Crisis 5, a separate button located on the left and right of the gun controller allows the player to switch weapons at any point.

The countdown clock prevents the player from remaining behind cover for too long and imposes a time limit to clear the stage of enemies. The player must manage their time in and out of cover to attack enemies on sight, while avoiding being hit by direct shots. In Time Crisis and Project Titan, after the clearance of an area the game adds only a partial amount of time to the overall clock while the timer keeps running down and the game ends if the time reaches zero. In multiplayer installments (starting with Time Crisis II), the clock resets after the player clears their immediate area of enemies, and will deduct 1 life point if it reaches zero. Time Crisis 5 introduces new scenario-specific timed sequences apart from the standard countdown clock where the player must act within a specific timeframe: dodge moments (the player must press the indicated left or right pedal to avoid a hit from incoming debris), a sniper level (killing enemies from concealed positions), and slow-motion target sequences (shooting bullseyes painted on a target before they turn red).

— ACTION! —

The first order of business is the first Time Crisis (タイムクライシス), released in 1995 for the arcades and 1997 for the PlayStation. VSSE agent Richard Miller (the only VSSE agent confirmed to work alone; also called the One-Man Army) is tasked to infiltrate the castle and rescue Rachel MacPherson, the daughter of the president of the fictional country called Sercia. Wild Dog, the series’ main antagonist, appears in every game except Crisis Zone and Raizing Storm.

⚠️ MAJOR SPOILERS FOR TIME CRISIS 5 ⚠️

Time Crisis II was released in late 1997 for the arcades. The PlayStation 2 version of the game (which was released in late 2001) featured enhanced graphics and additional cutscenes. It was packaged with the GunCon 2 lightgun peripheral, although it was also compatible with the Original Guncon. It is the first game to have two players, which features Keith Martin (red jacket) and Robert Baxter (blue jacket). Christy Ryan — who was last seen in this game — was killed three months prior to the fifth game.

The internal auditor, Christy, we were in love. I need to find out what really happened!

— Keith Martin, showing his devotion towards the late Christy (Time Crisis 5)

Time Crisis 3 brings in Alan Dunaway and Wesley Lambert, which takes place in Lukano, a fictional country modeled after Greece. It was released in late 2002 for the North American arcades first then Japanese arcades one year later. This title was later released for the PlayStation 2 — which was released in late 2003 for all regions — together with a side story featuring Alicia Winston (voiced by Melissa Hutchison, the same voice actress who voiced Fumika Kodama/Katie Forester and Komasan in the Yo-kai Watch franchise for the first two seasons for the anime series (prior to being replaced by Reba Buhr for the majority of the third season citing budgeting issues) and all three YW games, as well as Clementine in The Walking Dead episodic video game and Bianca in Spyro: Reignited Trilogy) as a playable character, who is only an unplayable supporter in the arcade version of the game. The game marks the debut of Wild Fang, Wild Dog’s apprentice who is known for delivering super-powered kicks.

Time Crisis 3 incorporates a new type of weapons system allowing the player to switch between the standard 9-round handgun, a fully automatic machine gun that can hold 200 rounds, a shotgun with 50 shells, and a 5-round grenade launcher with powerful splash damage. Only the handgun has unlimited ammunition, though players can shoot yellow-clad soldiers to gain ammunition for their other weapons. Unlike the first two Time Crisis games, it was developed by the now-defunct Nex Entertainment (initially Nextech).

Time Crisis 4 is the first game to have Japanese voices. The change in this game is the life counter, as Bandai Namco was forced to change the icon to avoid being sued by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It was released in mid-2006 for the arcades and for the PlayStation 3 (with GunCon 3) one year later (2008 in Europe and Australia). Giorgio Bruno (Italian; red player) and Evan Bernard (French; blue player) are the VSSE agents in this video game.

One major change is the addition of the multi-screen or multi-hiding system, introduced in Time Crisis: Project Titan. Unlike Project Titan, which players went on the offensive, players are placed on the defensive. In Project Titan, players had to hide and shoot arrows to switch screens. Screen switching has been refined to allow the player to merely point the gun outside the screen to move around. The game also utilizes a new light gun control with infrared emitters. Prior to this, all Namco light gun games used gun controllers that relied on cathode ray timing.

⚠️ MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD ⚠️

Time Crisis 5 is the first entry in the Time Crisis series to use Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and uses two pedals (as opposed to the predecessors’ single pedal), and is the final game in the series. It is also the first game not to have a consumer version release due to the light gun games being a low genre, according to Norihiro Nishimura, the fifth game’s producer. Bandai Namco later announced a True Mastermind edition (真の黒幕編 Shin no kokumakuhen) of the game which was released near the end of August 2015 and includes the second half of the game, consisting of three new stages, for a total of six stages, the largest in the series.

Luke O’Neil (player 1 character) is the only VSSE agent to wear a tank top, a pair of shorts, a baseball cap, and has tattoos, while Marc Godart (player 2 character) has a passing resemblance to Sonny Crockett from the crime drama TV series Miami Vice but minus the shades. Time Crisis 5 involves Luke and Marc trying to track down a traitor in the VSSE and contending against the hired mercenaries after the information that was stolen from the organization. It turns out that Robert Baxter — who previously appeared in the second game — is the VSSE traitor. Keith Martin — also previously appeared in the second game — assists the newcomers to take down Robert Baxter. Catherine Ricci serves as air support for this game.

Five years later, Bandai Namco has stopped producing GunCons as many video game developers have since moved away from light gun games.

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Cory Roberts

Freelance illustrator, manga artist, and character designer. Creator of the upcoming Radical Flannel. (He/him)