You are Sword, a hero from another time and place, summoned to return the inhabitants of this world to their rightful position in time. In this new world you will discover special realms with new dungeons to explore and quests to undertake across various slices of time and space, from medieval Europe to ancient Egypt to 1980's Japan. But several questions remain: who summoned you and the other ‘Heroes’ and what part does he play in this quest?
In your dungeon crawling experiences you will be able to capture and use monsters to fight alongside you. Each monster has some quality that may make your adventure easier. You will also meet the other five Heroes. All six of the playable characters have their own special abilities and skills to use through your travels.
With the first area you enter, and every subsequent addition to the realm, there are people you can talk to and occasionally shops that you can go to. Most of the people do not have anything useful to say and even less common is what they're saying even interesting. However, the people do add to the flavor of each realm. The main use for the shops is the ability to sell your bounty of goods from the dungeons.
The dungeons are different every time (e.g. Diablo) and you can occasionally find useful items. Basic dungeon crawling is what you get and it’s not much to talk about. The dungeons themselves look good and are interesting to travel through, but generally not very challenging. If you don’t run away from many fights and make sure that you always have a monster traveling with you, you shouldn’t have any trouble clearing a dungeon. The only problem that I constantly ran into is that when getting into a fight on two sides of a doorway, I could hardly see the enemy at all.
My main gripe with the design of this game is that the characters have static statistics. Every time you enter a dungeon, the character stats are the same (since you always go back to level 1). Also, I was never able to take more items into a dungeon than four -- this made the game flow a bit better, as I never had it easy getting started each time. But it really got boring starting dungeons over and over again without really gaining anything. The only advantage you can earn and keep is abilities, but you can only have so many in use at a time. There are also items that you can get which are really powerful and allow you to increase their abilities and decrease their required stats, but they are really hard to come by.
Two things bothered me about the graphics in this game: the camera and the quality of the characters and monsters. This game is not what I would expect from the Dreamcast. While the quality of the rendering is high, the quality of the models is very low. I keep going back to other Dreamcast games like Sword of the Berserk or Soul Calibur and I am really disappointed by the graphics of Time Stalkers. The camera for dungeon crawling is great until, as I have mentioned, you have a fight in a doorway. When this happens you will need to blindly select which enemy you are fighting, because the game doesn’t register that you can’t see through the wall next to the doorway. This is just a dumb bug to me.
This game is solid, but perpetually mediocre. There isn’t anything that I can say was great in this game and there is only one thing that really sucks (the camera problem when fighting in doorways). If you are looking for something that even looks like an RPG for the Dreamcast, then you will probably want to buy this game. But I’d still rent it first...
Download Time Stalkers
It's almost painful to think that the developer of this game created some of my favorite Genesis RPGs back in the day. As a random dungeon-generating RPG, like Evolution, Time Stalkers tosses together a collection of poorly designed corridors and rooms each time you enter a new maze. In order to flesh out your party, it's possible to capture monsters, name the beasts and then release them as allies. They won't always listen to you though--ores and wyverns can be difficult that way. It's like a pseudo-Pokemon game mechanic gone awry. The biggest irritation is that Sword, the main character, is set back to level one every time he starts a new area. That's right, it's like starting the game anew every hour or so. Time Stalkers isn't without its positive points, but they're few and far between. My favorite parts are when protagonists from past Climax titles like Landstalker and Shining in the Darkness make cameos. In fact, some of them are even playable characters. Unfortunately that means only fans of these relatively old games wiil be able to appreciate them, but oh well. The concept behinc Time Stalkers isn't necessarily a bad one. If Climax hadn't decided to throw in some ill-conceived gameplay aspects which totally destroy any sort of play value, the game could have been a decent distraction for a few hours. As is, only big Climax fans and freakishly hardcore RPG lovers should bother.
I thought Evolution was a ho-hum RPG, but it's a freakin' masterpiece compared to Time Stalkers. Like Evolution, this game packs a weak story and randomly generated dungeons. (Now there's a trend in RPG design I could live without). On top of that, you get a lot of bad gameplay elements. Chief among them: Every time you enter a dungeon, your character starts over at level one--meaning you can't wield the powerful weapons you've already found until you build up experience again. On the plus side, you'll find mini-quests and bonus games galore. This thing uses the VMU for mini-games more than any DC title, although most of the games ain't fun.
I don't really understand this game. Why in god's name do you have to start with experience level one and no more than four items every time you enter a dungeon? It's incredibly frustrating. The fighting system is nothing special either. Luckily, TS has a couple of features that make things interesting. First, unlike everyone else I actually like the whole random dungeon thing. It's not terribly innovative, but it spices things up enough. Same goes for the array of VMU mini-games and bonus stuff (although paying for these extras isn't easy). I also like the way cultures and time periods are fused together in the story. But all in all, it's one to rent.