Time Loader (Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, X/S, PC)

In the mid 90s, a boy named Alex slips on a toy car in his tree house and falls to the ground, causing him to be paralyzed and bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.  He grows up to be a scientist and invents a time machine so he can send a robot back in time to destroy the car that he slipped on so none of that would happen.  In Time Loader, you control the robot he sent back in time as you explore a giant house and surroundings.  The robot has wheels and a claw arm, but you can gather upgrades as you progress.  But when you destroy the car in the past, the present is still the same, but a cat causes Alex to fall from the tree house instead.  So when you get rid of the cat, you make the timeline worse because a house fire happens later because rats chew through wires because the cat wasn’t there to chase them away.  So you’ll travel back and forth from the mid to late 90s as you try and set the timeline right again.  Time Loader is a 2-D physics based puzzle platformer available for nearly all current game consoles, but reviewed on Switch here.

You control the robot and can move left and right, and the wheels allow you to climb steep surfaces, too.  You can use the claw arm on the robot to pick up and grab onto certain objects.  Luckily the game makes it clear what you can interact with.  You can also throw objects, too.  As you play, you’ll find parts that you can use for upgrades.  Springs let you jump higher, and later on you’ll find a grappling hook for grabbing onto objects farther away.  Depending on your actions as you play, you may view multiple endings.  When you beat the game, you can select chapters to try and see the other outcomes.  The game touts that it has a nostalgic 90s feel, but aside from seeing a Super Nintendo in the mid 90s era and a PlayStation in the late 90s era, I didn’t see much of that.  But the game does have a PIXAR vibe it, as the larger than life house you explore reminded me of Toy Story, and the robot you control made me kind of think of Wall-E.  Plus the slightly melancholy story made me think of a lot of PIXAR film plots as well.

The game had a couple of problems.  One minor one is that it gets a bit repetitive, as you mostly just slide out objects back and forth so you can jump on them.  And the play control could’ve used some work.  You can’t jump at your full height unless both wheels are on the ground, and later on when you get the grappling hook, it’s very difficult to use.  But even with all this, the game still kept me interested to the very end.  It’s a bit short at less than five hours, but you can go back and try to find all the secrets and endings, so that’s OK.  But when I beat it, I managed to get the best ending (I think) anyway, so I rather enjoyed this one.

Kid Factor:

Nothing violent or objectionable here.  Since you control a robot, even when it gets damaged there’s really no violence.  There are some deaths and peril that are implied, but are never shown in the game.  But that may still cause concern and discussions for parents and sensitive kids.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger gamers may have trouble with the difficult controls.  Time Loader is rated E for Everyone.

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