When I was younger, I didn’t get to go to arcades very often. When I did, I wanted to make the most of it. I fondly recall spending time with Time Crisis back in the day, and now I think it’s high time that we see Time Crisis VR come to… well, any of the current virtual reality platforms. Please?
Action! Danger! Reload!
Let’s start with what Time Crisis is for those of you that haven’t had the good fortune to play it. Take your favorite cheesy action movie from the early ’90s. Find the guy who wrote the script, force-feed him two gallons of coffee, and the resultant output would be the plot of these games. It was (and still is) wonderfully corny.
There are two key elements that are central to Time Crisis gameplay: the cover system and a time limit. You can see both of them demonstrated in the above video of gameplay from the first title of the franchise, and it also happens to show just how wild the Time Crisis games are: in the first thirty seconds, the player shoots about fifty rounds, kills a dude with a rocket launcher, and sinks a submarine.
Firstly, you’re under constant time pressure. The world is always on the brink of disaster and you can’t be messing around shooting five-hundred bad guys wielding Desert Eagles. Players get more time by successfully completing sections of a level, ultimately leading up to a boss fight.
Secondly, there’s the game’s cover system which was undeniably innovative for its time. In the 90s, most lightgun shooters would have you take damage if you didn’t kill the enemies fast enough. Time Crisis changed things up by giving you the ability to duck into cover and decide when you would pop back out to shoot at the bad guys.
These two elements combined into a solid gameplay loop. You wanted to stay in cover to avoid damage, but you also had to move forward as quickly as possible so you didn’t run out of time. It’s a simple but effective formula — and it’s perfect for VR.
Why Time Crisis VR would be awesome
Just as there is no shortage of lightgun games in arcades for the last 25 years, there are plenty of VR shooters out there in the world. Some allow free movement, some use room-scale VR, and others put the player on rails or standing in a static position.
Time Crisis has always been the kind of game that’s difficult to translate to consoles. Sure, you can put a button on the lightgun to make you go into cover, but it just isn’t the same. As someone who has spent dozens of hours shooting bad guys and enjoying the satisfying clack clack clack of the arcade gun’s slide, I got a lot of enjoyment out of using the pedal and strategically moving in and out of cover.
Now, the rising popularity of VR means that Time Crisis VR can definitely happen. VR controllers do a fine enough job standing in for guns, and the ability to track the player’s movement means that you can literally move out of the way or duck for cover as needed depending on the context of the scene. VR would actually make for an improvement over the arcade lightgun games that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
Bandai Namco has the skills to Make Time Crisis VR happen
Time Crisis is a pretty old franchise — the first game came out way back in 1995, and the most recent release was 2015’s Time Crisis 5. The latest entry innovates by using two pedals to move between two places of cover. In a sense, Bandai Namco had already laid the foundation for a more robust VR version of their game: VR players could lean left, lean right, or crouch to go into cover in the virtual reality version of the game.
The ultimate question, though, is whether or not Time Crisis VR will ever happen. I mean, Bandai Namco isn’t exactly known for making VR games, but it has cooked up some pretty impressive stuff in the short life of the technology, most notably Mario Kart Arcade GP VR. The company even ran a VR-centric arcade in Shinjuku, although that facility closed down in April of 2019.
The real question is this: does the closure of the Shinjuku arcade indicate that Bandai Namco is moving away from VR, or was it merely a happenstance due to local real-estate deals? If it does stick with virtual reality gaming, it’d be silly not to at least consider making Time Crisis VR. It’s a perfect fit.