Time Cruise II
When many people think of pinball games on the PC Engine (or TurboGrafx-16), games like Devil's Crush or Alien Crush come to mind...however Time Cruise is a great game in it's own right and one of my first exposures to video pinball.
In the US the game was just called Time Cruise, however in Japan the Roman numeral II was added. When you boot up the game, you get the title screen on the left. Doors open up, revealing different areas. Oddly enough this is the US title screen. Once the screen goes black, the large "II" appears and then the game title.
On this screen you have 3 options. Play, Practice and Option. The option screen basically lets you choose a different controller layout, but unfortunately it's not choosing different buttons. Nope, it lets you choose an option to use multiple controllers. It's a very odd set up and I should have taken a picture of this option so you could better understand what I'm trying to describe. The default controls: left on the D pad and the II button control the left and right flippers. Pressing the I button will shake the table. Over pressing this button could cause a Tilt and forfeiting your ball.
What helps make this game stand out from some of it's pinball competitors on the PC Engine/TG-16 is the sheer size of the table. The table is basically comprised of 7 screens. The middle section is three screens tall, while the side tables are made of two screens.
This large layout gives you plenty of things for the ball to hit and ricochet off of to net you some big points. The game changes screens quickly as the ball moves around and its usually pretty easy to follow the ball. If you're wondering why the game is called Time Cruise, at the top of each section are these silver warp gates. You first have to activate them by hitting the trigger about 5 or 6 times with the ball. A path will then illuminate to the gate letting you know it's ready. If you can work the ball over to the now active gate, you'll be transported either into the future or into the past.
One of the areas in the future is this table that you have to move to roll your ball to the hole in the green area. Obviously is game was released far before there was motion controls, so to move the board you manipulate the X and Y axis. Do it before the time runs out and you'll earn an extra ball and add some serious points to your score. I used to be able to work this table pretty easy, but I've become rusty.
One of my favorite warp tables is this caveman golf area. You are a small caveman and you have to golf the ball over water hazards and keep the ball from going into the bushes, labeled OB (for Out of Bounds I assume). You have a gauge at the top of the screen that measures how hard you hit the ball. If the ball falls into the water, you start over where you are. However if you hit it out of bounds, it takes you up one level. Make your way to the bottom and successfully hit it into the hole and you'll earn an extra ball and a lot of points. With practice, this isn't very hard, but it's a lot of fun.
Another warp area set in the past is this medival themed table. As the ball ricochets off the treasure chests at the top, they open to reveal gold inside. If you hit all 6, they close and you get a new point tier (represented by the roman numerals in the background). The chest in the middle is actually a little monster that moves around the screen.
The bottom portion of the table has 6 swords. The color on the handle changes as the ball hits them. Hit them all and you'll illuminate another roman numeral in the background. The sides of the top and bottom tables are lined with pink jelly creatures and white masks that act as bumpers.
my high scores from my recent play (CJH)
Overall this game is a lot of fun and it's still one of my favorite pinball games on all retro platforms. The music on the main table is very forgetful unfortunately, but better in the warp areas. With the large size of the table, there are several open areas that are kind of bland. What I mean is there isn't much going on in the background. No moving pieces to look at in the background as Alien Crush or Devil's Crush has for example. Those tables seem more organic where as Time Cruise is more inorganic (if that makes sense).
Both the US and Japanese versions of Time Cruise will run you at least $50.00 on the secondary market for a complete copy of the game. That price is a little steep if you ask me, but if you like video pinball and you've never played this game then you need to pick up a copy in some way shape or form.