Time Stalkers (or Climax Landers if your in Japan) was one of the first RPGs for the Dreamcast. The game was released March 28, 2000 and was published by Sega and developed by Climax Entertainment.
The game thrusts you into the role of Sword, a young cocky warrior who at first never wants to help anyone out. Time Stalkers starts off with Sword walking through a forest when some big frigginí guy chunks an axe at you and runs off. What a wuss. So, our hero chases him to a castle where things really get crazy. As soon as he gets in, the walls start changing and doors suddenly turn into walls. Youíll soon meet your attacker, and after disposing of him, youíll find yourself leaving the castle and walking into a different world altogether.
After talking to the clichťd old wise man, you learn that you have passed the test and are there for considered a hero. A hero who has been summoned to save a world that is dying. It might be important to point out that this isnít your average world. It seems that some divine power has been taking chunks of different worlds and molding them together like Play-dough. Youíll also be given a house of your own and your own butler named Mutton, which is pretty hilarious considering heís a sheep.
Shortly after youíre introduction into the world, another chunk of landmass comes crashing down into your new world. This one is a volcanic island with a native on it. The other pieces of the world seem to be some kind of futuristic space ship, a floating turtle with a rabbit living on it and a chunk out of present-day Japan. I gotta say this is a cool idea. I wonít go through explaining the entire game for you because that would ruin too much for you, and Iím just too lazy.
I will tell you that, eventually, youíll meet up with a beast-man, a thief, a fairy and a few other so-called heroes that youíll be able to control as you progress through the game.
Considering this is 2003, this game shows itís age. You can actually see lines in everyoneís joints and the characters, while having great personality, are not that impressive. Plus, I canít tell if Sword has this gay mustache or if itís his mouth.
One thing that is kinda cool is that the weapon you equip is shown on your character.
While inside dungeons, you can rotate the camera 360 degrees with the trigger buttons. I have to say that this is a blessing because if the camera was fixed in one position, youíd be stumbling around like a blind man.
I also have to tell you about one thing that gets on my nerves. The collision detection in this game is horrendous. You can be running against a wall and half of your body is on the other side of the wall. This is really unacceptable, and while I know that it is a small gripe and doesnít affect the gameplay, I hate it nonetheless.
Iíve got to point out to you know the most glaring weakness in the game, and it was something that could have been easily fixed. I donít know if the gameís director was out sick this day when this decision was made or what but as soon as you beat a dungeon, which the only way to gain experience is killing enemies in dungeons, you revert back to level one. I donít understand the logic in this. Part of the coolest areas in RPGs is leveling your party into a kick-ass killing machine. But in Time Stalkers, you will always go back to the lowly level one after you work to beat a boss. (Nice incentive, eh?) To the gameís defense, you will gain cooler sounding titles after you beat dungeons (At first you start out as weakling), but it canít make up for the inability to retain your levels.
Speaking of the dungeons, let me talk a little about the fighting aspect. The game gives you the normal RPG commands of attack, defend, magic or items (By the way, I donít think I have ever used the defend option Ö EVER!). But Time Stalkers adds another command to make things a little interesting. A Capture command is present and when you use this command, the player youíre controlling throws out a capsule and depending on the enemies Capture Rate, you might capture yourself a little buddy (a la Pokemon). This really adds a cool touch to the game.
After you beat the dungeon, you can release your captured creatures into a small building. From there, you can add up to three creatures to round out your group. Itís really fun to build your creatures up to higher levels. But you have to watch out because each one has a loyalty number, and if the number is too low, it will probably not listen to you in battle. That can make the difference between victory and defeat.
While attacking, you have a few different fighting abilities depending on the weapon you have equipped. Basically, itís like a light, medium and heavy blow. Each of these uses a certain number of vitality points. If you use up all of your vitality, you will have to wait until it recharges or you eat a vitality apple.
I would have also liked to have been able to hold a few more items while in dungeons, too. Far too many times have I been walking through a dungeon low on health and had to drop another item just to pick up an apple to restore my hit points.
Please make no mistake in thinking that you are picking up a Grandia 2 or Skies of Arcadia. This game, while entertaining, just doesnít have the engrossing storyline of said games.
I have already laid out the opening sequences of the game, but as I progressed through it, I rarely thought to myself that I cared two-shits if this world was obliterated and the world and game end right there. That may be a little harsh, but when playing an RPG, you should care about the characters in the game, and sadly enough, you probably wonít feel that manly connection that you might have had with Cloud.
I know that this game came out early on in the DCís life, but it could have used some voice acting instead of the same olí text that was the norm. But when Iím looking at a Dreamcast RPG, I want the most realistic game I can get.
Sadly enough, the music isnít anything to write home about. Only when you get into the dungeons, is there anything worth mentioning. At times, the dungeon music helps lay out the mood of what may happen next.
Other than going through the game and buying some nifty little VMU games, there really isnít any replay value. As far as I know, there are no alternative endings or secrets that you can unlock.
One of the more fun VMU games is a dungeon crawler that looks a lot like the old NES Wizadry games. This is pretty cool too, but wouldnít ya know that once you stop playing, you lose your God Da*n Mother F**king, Sh*t-head, P8*sy-sh**ing levels!!! IS THERE NO END TO THIS MADNESS??????
Worth buying now?
If you are an avid DC fan, then youíll probably want to pick this game up for your collection. And people are practically giving it away on Ebay. When I bought mine, I paid $1 plus about $3 for shipping, so in all $4. Well, the seller sent it to the wrong address and when it came back to him, he sent me my money back but also sent the game with it. Now thatís customer service. Basically, all I paid for was shipping. Donít be surprised if you can pick this game up for about the same price.
But if you are someone
who is new to all things Dreamcast, you might want to look into Grandia
2 or Skies of Arcadia; two absolutely stellar games. You will most
likely have to pay about $10 to $15 more for them than Time Stalkers but
itís worth it.
All in all, Time Stalkers is not a bad game; itís just not that good either. Like I said, you will be better off playing the other two AAA DC games, but if youíre one of those nerdy guys who spends his weekends locked in his room, you might want to check this out instead of beating Skies of Arcadia for the fourth time.
Replay Value: 3
Worth Buying Now?: 8
Here, our hero Sword, approaches the terrible castle to confront his attacker.
This shows a bit of what you can expect to see when you brave the dungeons of Time Stalkers.