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Time Gal & Ninja Hayate
  opened by paleface at 02:30:13 09/01/03  
  last modified by paleface at 14:07:19 11/15/18  
  paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Laser_Disc; loc=JPN]
Combo port pack of two interactive laser-disc anime cartoon arcade games in which you input a stick direction or button press every few seconds based on on-screen hints to keep the hero (or heroine) alive, Dragon's Lair style. But while Dragon's Lair gave very few hints and almost no time to react, forcing you to rely on memory but allowing you to hold an action command down in advance, these two games give clear action instructions and allow a decent reaction time, but don't let you hold an action in advance. This makes them much more twitch action games than memory games, which to my mind is a very good thing.
Time Gal is a giggly futuristic babe with a time-travel pendant, when she's in big trouble she presses it to activate a "Time Stop," then you choose from one of three options for you next move while the action is paused for a few seconds. Two of the three choices lead to instant death, of course, but the death animations for each scene in these games are rather amusing and worth seeing at least once. Time Gal's pendant for some reason takes her to a seemingly random time period, but they all have this in common: something will try to kill her within five seconds of her arrival. Poor Time Gal!
Actually, the scene sequence in Arcade mode is semi-random in both of these games, but you can change this as well as other options (enabling continues, extends, changing lives, hint style, etc) in a "dip-switch" menu. The only annoying thing about the dip-switch menu is that the only way I can find to get back to it is to reset the system. Hm.
Anyway, Time Gal is an immensely appealing character, so cute the way she keeps up a constant patter of laughter and commentary, particularly when she happens to burst out with a heavily-accented English word. Animation quality is high, with most scenes involving the whole background shifting radically in perspective.
Oh, also with both games the video plays back fullscreen, very smooth, with some compression artifacting but nothing that obscures the artwork. Good stuff.
Ninja Hayate, a rather bumbling assassin, complicates the gameplay with diagonal movements, but there's no way he can be as cute as Time Gal and the animation by comparison seems pretty cut-rate, with largely static backgrounds and a heck of a lot of repetition (for instance, in a giant clockworks you dodge a revolving gear once... then again with the same animation).
Both games will sometimes flip the scene horizontally to juggle things up. Although in terms of animation and sound quality they don't rival the Dragon's Lair or Space Ace games, they're much more playable and humorous. Shame they don't use the memory card so you could save your high scores or something.
  paleface 14:07:19 11/15/18
I'm kind of scared that I seem to have thought the prompts for the inputs were intuitive and the input windows were generous, because coming back to the games after all these years, they both seem both *unintuitive* and really strict on their input timing! : o
I also noted originally that you can't "hold an action in advance"; but I think you *can* just input an action repeatedly in anticipation of the prompt--so yeah, that along with memorization from death scene after painful death scene would probably be the way through.
I just have to admit to myself that I really can't play these games! : o My reactions aren't up to it, and anyway I get so distracted watching the gorgeous animation that I'm in no way ready to read and react to the action prompts when they come up. Jeepers!

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