It seems like anything and everything from reboots to crossovers are making their way to the Xbox One nowadays. Sometimes it is a good thing and other times it would have been nice to just hold on to the fond memories of yesteryear. A few years ago tinyBuild brought No Time To Explain to the PC through a Kickstarter campaign and now it has finally trekked over to the console fully remastered and using a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard. Will the newbies and masses who loved this blast from the past both love this port for what it is or is this just more clutter in the game store?
No Time to Explain (NTTE) kicks off with you dancing in front of your TV when your future self suddenly appears and says there is no time to explain. Immediately after a giant crab busts into the living room and steals your future self leaving you a laser that doubles as a jetpack to traverse through the levels. As far as a story goes this is about as much as you’ll get so don’t come into this expecting the Witcher levels of storyline or even Super Mario Brothers for that matter. As you venture after your future self you’re propelled through a platforming world full of traps, obstacles, and hazards waiting to end your existence quicker than a blink of an eye. Making it to the end of a level you’re sucked up into a vortex that transports you to another time or dimension. Just when you think things can’t get any stranger, they do as you fight big bosses like a jumping shark that uses atom bombs or making your way through industrial alien-like boards.
The controls are simplistic, but require a very complex use of the physics system that is in place. Level design demands skillfulness, patience, and a lot of rinse and repeat until you get it right. The jetpack is hard to assess how much or how little propulsion is needed to navigate around instant death which can become quite frustrating after the 10th or 11th time dying in the same spot. At times it feels like you finally beat a level not because of skill, but luck lining up time after time after obstacles. This becomes more apparent as every level passes when dying and respawning happen more in a minute than breathes you take. Luckily respawns are infinite (excepting during the boss sequences where you only get 3 lives to defeat them) and an instant respawn system that allows you to pick up pretty close to where you left off. The difficulty spike is reminiscent to so many games today that give a nod to the early days of gaming like Megaman, where nothing was given to you that you truly didn’t earn.
It really is a shame that the game relies so much upon the jetpack to navigate through the majority of levels when it is so touchy. There are a handful of levels where you are able to use a shotgun to move about in place of the jetpack and even one where you bounce around like a human bouncy ball. These really break up the monotony of the jetpack physics, but for some reason tinyBuild chose not to incorporate them more often to give NTTE more of a flavor all its own.
Graphics remind me of Super Meat Boy where everything is done in super bright color schemes and contrasts to bring the front of the screen to life. There isn’t much in the way of animations or anything else for that matter that brings the game to life like other arcade/indie games. The musical score for each level fits perfectly with what is going on and the game’s overall tempo. NTTE shows how well music can accompany a game and tie them in a way they become symbiotic. There isn’t much to talk about as far as voice acting and sound effects are concerned since the droning of the jetpack is all you really hear throughout the game.
Even though there are multiple short levels and boss fights NTTE will only take you a few hours to complete even through the most difficult portions. There isn’t much replay value unless you’re a completionist and wish to hunt for the hats that are hidden throughout the levels in secret and hard to reach areas. The hats are nothing more than cosmetic, but add a little pizzazz to your character. If you’re into co-op there is a 4 player option, but playing any platformer with more than one character on screen is a difficulty and grueling task that only those who love to endure pain will play.
No Time To Explain offers a masochist platformer with a bland story line as you blast through multiple short levels. Visuals are mediocre at best even if they have been given an upgrade; however the soundtrack is one of the few bright spots of the game. The infuriating portions of the game will make you wonder why you even press on when it feels like luck and not skill are the only way to advance to the next level. It really is a shame that the game didn’t have anything to make it more unique than a laser beam jetpack to set it apart from the droves of games flooding the market. Many gamers will rightfully pass on this port from the past and go for something that offers more than just a vanilla platformer with a gimmick.
Score – 4.5/10
Review code supplied by Team Xbox.