In this special series on the Pioneer LaserActive, guest author Taylor Pinson will be discussing some of the games released on the Sega PAC, an add-on for the LaserActive that could play Genesis, Sega CD, and Mega LD titles.
DEVELOPER: HighTech Lab. Japan
RELEASE DATE: 03/25/95 – (JP)
The LaserActive gets another port of an 80’s laserdisc arcade game, and I’ll be darned if it isn’t the best game on the system. From the moment the game boots up and you hear that wonderfully cheesy synthesized intro music (complete with Sega Genesis-style fart bass!) you know you’re in for something special.
Time Gal is another quick-time FMV game like Triad Stone and Road Prosecutor. Like the latter, the story gets told in the opening/attract mode: Evil McBadguy steals a time machine, forcing our unlucky hero, Time Gal, to chase after him through various points in time. All while avoiding numerous obstacles like cavemen, dinosaurs that sound like Godzilla, WWII, evil robots, and the Grim Reaper.
The animation/art style in Time Gal is gorgeous, especially compared to Road Prosecutor and Triad Stone. The game is incredibly well-animated throughout, especially the many cartoonish deaths of our hero. The game’s controls/input response times are also excellent, making Time Gal feel tough enough to be a challenge, but not frustratingly so.
Time Gal lacks the mirrored sequences of Road Prosecutor, but adds a couple of its own little twists to make things interesting. Each level is divided up into different time periods, which based off my playthroughs of the game, appear in a random order. As the game progresses, it will sometimes stop showing you the button prompts, forcing you to rely on the yellow flashing visual cues on screen instead, which helps add to the challenge. There are also moments when Time Gal will use a special timestop power, where you are forced to choose between three different options on how to proceed before time restarts a few seconds later. These options are all in Japanese (the game was only released in Japan), which makes things tougher for someone who doesn’t know the language.
In addition to the LaserActive port, Time Gal was also released on the Sega CD (the only time it was released in the US) and in a two pack in Japan on the Sega Saturn with Ninja Hayate (also released in the US on the Sega CD as Revenge of the Ninja).
Like all of the other FMV games on the Sega CD, Time Gal looks washed out and blurry, especially when compared to the LaserActive version. The Sega CD version also seems much harder to me. It does have an equally catchy opening theme song, though, and it is in English, so you can actually understand what the different choices are in the time stop segments. I haven’t tried the Saturn version, so I can’t compare it to the others.
If you like the FMV genre, Time Gal is – dare I say it – the LaserActive’s finest hour. This makes it all the more disappointing to learn it’s one of the rarest and most expensive titles on the system. The Sega CD version is much cheaper and easier to find, but it’s also inferior in nearly every way. Still, if you don’t have the money, time, or patience to track down the LaserActive version, you might still have some fun with it.
A for the LaserActive
BONUS GRADE: C for the Sega CD