— WAIT —Admit it: whenever you play those Light Gun Games, the absurd amount of enemies that constantly chip away your health/life makes you believe The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. How are you ever suppose to stop this onslaught? Enter Time Crisis by Namco, a series of Light Gun Games for the arcades, now in its fourth iteration. Its main distinguishing feature is its use of a foot pedal: the player holds the pedal down to attack; when the pedal is released, the player hides behind a nearby wall/tree/bench/other object and is safe from attack, but can't retaliate. This means that unlike most light gun games, any attack can be dodged without harm even once it's been launched, although the reaction time you have can be punishingly low.Each game follows a different set of characters as they gun their way through unrelated international crises. The only two constants are the VSSE (Vital Situation Swift Execution), a Heroes R Us organization the heroes belong to, and "Wild Dog", a freelance mercenary who serves as each villain's Dragon, despite blowing himself up in increasingly impressive pyrotechnics each time.As one might expect, time is an important part of the series. A timer is constantly running down to zero, being replenished each time you clear a "room" of enemies. In the first game, the timer was the main challenge: it had strict limits, and you lost all your lives if time ran out. Later games toned it down considerably: you only lose one life, and the limits are much easier to deal with. In fact, they mostly just prevent excessive turtling and make sure the player eventually dies even if they never press the pedal.Starting with Time Crisis 2, the game is set up as two cabinets hooked together for two-player co-operative play. Both players will go through the levels at slightly different vantage points on the action and sections with more pronounced differences (one player on the ground, the another on a railing above). As an added bonus, a red reticule used by a Mook is visualized as a direct hit to the player, thus allowing them to know exactly when they should let go of the pedal to dodge (which wasn't present in the first, another reason why the original was so strict). Time Crisis 3 grants players extra weapons, in the form of a machine gun, shotgun and grenade launcher, which were more powerful but had limited ammunition. To refill them, players had to shoot a specific yellow Mook. The latest Time Crisis 4 forces players to take part in "Multi-Screen Scenarios", where near endless Mooks come and attack from different directions (until the timer reaches zero, and provided that the player survives).Also worth mentioning here is Time Crisis: Project Titan, a Gaiden Game/semi-sequel that follows the protagonist in the first, which actually showcases the "Multi-Screen Scenario" before 4, and Crisis Zone, basically Time Crisis with a machine gun and a metal shield. It's sometimes considered part of the same series or at least a spinoff, thanks to the loose connections between the main games, although neither the VSSE nor Wild Dog appear. Another similar game, Razing Storm, is a combination of 3 and Crisis Zone with Playstation3 hardware, featuring two members of a hi-tech special forces unit. Like Zone, the players have a machine gun as their standard weapon, but will switch to special weapons like rocket launchers and sniper rifles as the situation warrants, such as sniping rooftop sentries to give a squadmate time to call down a Kill Sat strike or when a Humongous Mecha crashes the party.The games have been ported to all three generations of Playstations; the original and Project Titan for Playstation, 2 and 3 and Crisis Zone for Playstation 2, and 4 and Razing Storm for Playstation 3 (though 4 was done twice over: once as its own game with a rather awkward light gun, and again as an additional title to Razing Storm, alongside Deadstorm Pirates. All three games utilize the Move). Additionally, the original, 3, 4 (the first release), Crisis Zone and Razing Storm have exclusive scenarios not found in the arcades that expands more of the story, usually from another character's perspective. There's been several ports to the iPad as well.— ACTION —
All There in the Manual: For the first game, we had to read the manual to learn the backstory behind the game. The later games didn't even supply names for the most of the bosses you face (well, the ones that weren't Wild Dog or the villain of the day).
Aristocrats Are Evil: In the original, Sherudo Garo was the last remaining heir of the Garo royal family that ruled over Sercia for a millennium. After the regime was toppled by a revolution, he attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government by kidnapping the president's daughter Rachel and demands the country to be restored to a monarchy in return for her safety or he will have her killed.
A-Team Firing: In installments that offer multiplayer, if only one player is playing or if the game is in solo mode, the unused player character is shown attacking and hiding just like you...but none of his shots will connect.
Also worth noting: if one player clears out all of his enemies, any enemies that only the other player can hit RETREAT. Yes, this means that one player could embody this trope, get 0 accuracy, and STILL play through the entire game if the other player is good. In single player, however, watching the COM's screen when behind cover can let you know when it's safe to pop your head out.
Big Bad: Sherudo Garo in 1, Ernesto Diaz in 2, Giorgio Zott and Jake Hernandez in 3, and Gregory Barrows in 4.
Bishōnen: Every protagonist in 2 and 3, one half of the player characters in 4, plus Wild Fang.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: Crisis Zone named the hero Croad McGalain and one of the bosses Eddy. The Playstation2 version fixed them into Claude McGarren and Edge, respectively.
Bonus Level: Razing Storm passes its fourth stage (only accessible if you complete the missile sequence of Stage 3) off as a "bonus" stage.
Boss Banter: Some bosses will verbally harass you throughout the fight. 4's Stage 2 boss, Jack Mathers, is notable in that he's not bantering you, he's bantering Captain Rush, who smack-talks him back for betraying his country.
Bottomless Magazines: The machine gun in 2. In 4, two areas put you in a helicopter with either a mounted machine gun or an automatic cannon, both of which have infinite ammo.
Blasting It out of Their Hands: In 3, Alicia shoots a handgun out of Zott's hand as he's about to execute her brother Daniel during a standoff between Zott and the VSSE agents. In the arcade version, this is done in a cutscene. But in the Rescue Mission mode, you actually have to shoot the gun out of his hand.
Climactic Elevator Ride: Right before the final boss battle, Wild Dog takes Rachel hostage in an elevator. Richard has to take the other elevator to catch up.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Soldiers in red have precision aim and always connect with their first shot, blue/gray are fodder and orange are bonuses. Similarly, Player 1 characters wear red and Player 2 characters wear blue. By 3 and 4, shooting yellow soldiers rack up additional ammo for weapons aside from the default handgun (a single shot's enough to kill them, but the more you shoot them, the more ammo you get). Also, green soldiers have lifebars, i.e. one shot isn't enough to take them out, and enemies in camo gear throw grenades and knives.
In the first and second games, most bullets fired at you will be yellow tracers. However, the ones that will hit you are red with menacing swirls.
Concealment Equals Cover: You hide behind some pretty questionable items, such as park benches, vendor carts, and empty barrels. Worse yet, this allows you to hide from all damage, including high explosives and thrown grenades, since enemies aim for your head, not your location.
Continuing Is Painful: During the continue screen of the first game, the elapsed time keeps running. In the console version, as well as the "Rescue Mission" from 3, you start the area over. In 4, your combo meter resets, making it hard to string combos again, and if you fail a Multi-Screen section, you lose your time bonus for the area.
Cosmetic Award: From 2 onwards, clearing the game without using a continue and making the high scores list will put a star next to your initials.
Alas, he's still a victim of Genre Blindness: a nuclear missile-launching computer system that could be completely shut down by pressing a single button. That didn't even require a login or password or any other type of validation. Chain's only as strong as the weakest link, bub!
A rare example in for the mooks as well: during the level at the air force base in 4, Captain Rush and the National Guard requests fire support. As soon as you show up, the enemy imminently focuses all their firepower on you instead of the helpless National Guard soldiers.
Considering they work for the above example, this isn't too surprising.
Dead Hat Shot: The first boss of 2, upon crashing his boat, leaves behind his bowler hat and his suitcase floating on the surface of the water.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In 2 and 3, your only penalty for continuing is not having a star next to your name on the initials screen. 4 does this too, but also with the aforementioned subversion.
Die Hard on an X: The original is Die Hard in a castle. Crisis Zone is Die Hard in an urban complex and a city.
Excuse Plot: The plots are there mainly to give the player an excuse to shoot stuff. The first focused on a pro-monarchist terrorist group, the second was about a mad scientist trying to nuke the world via a series of satellites disguised as peaceful communication satellites, the third was an invasion of a peaceful Mediterranean country by its fascist neighbor, and the forth was about anti-US insurgents. None of these has any real bearing on the gameplay.
Hand Cannon: Make, model and calibre never come up, but given it's possible to cherry tapanything to death with them (ranging from gigantic VTOL craft to an old WWII artillery bunker) they must be something pretty impressive.
Heroes R Us: The VSSE, with different agents in each game:
1/Project Titan: Richard Miller
2: Keith Martin and Robert Baxter
3: Alan Dunaway and Wesley Lambert
4: Giorgio Bruno and Evan Bernard
Furthermore, the STF (Special Task Force) and player character Claude McGarren in Crisis Zone, and SCAR members Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 in Razing Storm.
Heroic Mime: Richard Miller, the completely silent protagonist of the first game. Later titles give protagonists voices, but only during cutscenes.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The second stage boss in 2 is killed when he gets knocked backwards while firing a minigun, and ends up destroying the helicopter he was flying in with it.
Hold the Line: Some Multi-Screen segments in 4 require you to protect a barricade until reinforcements arrive. Enemy response is noticeably more aggressive in these sections.
Kaizo Trap: Since the time in the original and Project Titan keep running even between action frames, it's possible for the clock to run out after you take down a helicopter or another mechanical boss as its "death" animation plays. Fortunately this isn't an issue with human bosses: for them, the clock stops once you make the killing shot.
Kill Sat: The crisis needing to be averted in 2...which the Big Bad uses as his weapon in the final battle.
In Razing Storm, your allies have one, and it's used to destroy the Big Bad and finish off the boss of Stage 3.
Luck-Based Mission: Arguably the first game. It's hard to tell when shots can hit you or not from the blue mooks (the red ones are a given as are bazooka men and thrown grenades or knives. As well as environmental damage.) Making dodging a guessing game, plus the timer will continue running after beating tougher opponents.
More Dakka: The helicopter scenes in 4. Very, very much so.
Not that it prevents other bosses in the series indulging in their own: the second boss in 2 uses a machine gun turret, a gatling gun and an ICBM as a battering ram, while Ernesto fights using a Kill Sat. 3 has the first boss use a VTOL's armaments, a machine gun, a gatling gun, and in the Rescue Mission, a rocket launcher. Giorgio Zott switches from an assault rifle and sword combo to TWIN ROCKET LAUNCHERS. They really want you dead.
The first mostly, where you can't tell what shot's going to hurt (aside from enemies), bullets that "graze" you as you go into cover can still count as lethal,note From Time Crisis 2 onward, if you are not EXACTLY in shooting position, you cannot be hit, allowing for really quick "dodges" where red bullets would clip the camera but not result in loss of life. Doing the same thing in the first one will result in loss of life and time the timer constantly goes down no matter what's going on, the timer only increases (by a variable amount) when you clear out an action point or hit certain enemies (and even then, only up to 60 seconds), and you lose all your lives if the timer runs out.
Previous Player-Character Cameo: Starting in 2, the final mission of the home versions of each game's extra mission mode pit you against previous protagonists. While 2 plays it straight by pitting you against Richard Miller, 3 and 4 do it a little differently, instead pitting you against the agents you played as in the main story.
Rewarding Vandalism: Some objects, usually crates or barrels, can be blown up to kill enemies within its blast radius. From 2 onwards, this is accompanied by a point bonus. Also, shooting an inanimate, destructible object counts toward your hit combo.
Smart Bomb: Grenades in 3 and 4. When playing for score, they're absolutely useless in 3 because they nullify the accuracy streak bonus, but in 4, they can connect combos to maintain the combo bonus.
Spiritual Successor: Two of them: first Crisis Zone, then that in turn had its own spiritual sequel Razing Storm.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: Time Crisis 2 onwards are generally easier to get into, mostly thanks to the timer always starting at 40 seconds after changing action points and resetting whenever you lose a life (including when the timer hits 0, which no longer is an instant game over).
Stripperiffic: Alicia's civilian outfit, which consists of an open shirt, a bikini top, and a miniskirt.
Take Your Time: Inverted: one of the big experiments of Time Crisis was to put continual chronological pressure on the player throughout the entire game, directly contradicting that trope.
However, 4 has two segments that play this trope straight: a sniping segment in Stage 1 Area 2 where you must shoot a truck before it enters a tunnel (which never appears), and the final boss battle, where you must defeat the Big Bad before nuclear missile-armed stealth bombers reach their targets (it's Always Close).
They Killed Kenny: Wild Dog. Every game always has someone asking how he survived his suicide bombs.
And Wild Fang.
Throwing Your Knife Always Works: Unlike bullets, knives will always take a life off if you don't dodge. Factor in speed, and a mook with a knife is literally more dangerous than one with a rocket launcher.
This is only true based on the difficulty: on easy difficulty, rockets and knives can miss if there isn't a red flash when launched, just like any other attack. It's still more likely to hit than an enemy firing a machine gun at you though, and what arcade machine is going to be set to easy?
T-Word Euphemism: In 4 (arcade version), there's a sequence where you continually (more or less) shoot at a boss while he's wrestling with an ally. As usual, you are being debriefed on the situation by Mission Control via intercom (this is basically narration of the game script, which is also displayed at the bottom of the screen). For whatever reason, she decides to name the wrestling moves used by the boss. After a few ordinary examples, the script comes up "F—-!" at the bottom of the screen - and she actually yells out, "Eff!"
The Japanese version (which had Japanese dialogue for all characters) took it a half-step farther, having Conway go "F U!"
Voice Actors: The first three games strictly use English-language voice actors, with subtitles to match the game region. Japanese voice actors were not in the series until 4.
Western Terrorists: In 4, the terrorists that you're fighting are not W.O.L.F., but rather disgruntled members of a unit from the U.S. military, the Bio-Weapon Special Ops Unit, or the Hamlin Battalion. Also, the U.R.D.A. from Crisis Zone.
Razing Storm's Stage 3. "Okay, all mooks sniped off, Kill Sat fires and kills the Big Bad, 'Mission Complete!' appears...wait, isn't this the first section of Stage 3?" And then, assuming you stop a wave of cluster missiles from wiping you out at the end of the stage, you have one more whole stage to go.