It’s not too often these days that I see something new in the pantheon of the side scrolling game. Typically, I am left describing something as “one game mixed with another” and calling it a day. Now, while I play a large amount of games, I have never come across anything like No Time To Explain. Our subject, tinyBuild’s No Time To Explain Remastered is just that unique. It is also awesome. Maddening, but awesome.
Quick disclaimer: this is a re-release of a game that has hit before. Apparently, the developers just were not happy with how the original project came out, so they decided to redo it with a new engine. While my understanding is that the original was generally well received, I never played it. I am simply not able to do an apt comparison. If you are looking for just that, you will be disappointed.
The game begins with our hero, let’s call him Marty McCorpse due to my talent, chilling in his sparsely coiffed home. The wall crashes in and an interloper bursts through. Announcing that he is a time travelling version of Marty, he is promptly snagged by a giant enemy crab. (Hey, I just got that reference!) Current Marty picks up a dropped gun and proceeds to give chase.
When tinyBuild states that there is no time to explain, they mean it. Monsieur McCorpse is left chasing after his agonized future self with no real tutorial. A button tap reveals that the left trigger jumps, left stick moves, and right stick shoots. The jump is paltry, though. It was through brief experimentation that I discovered that the weapon left behind is some sort of repulsor ray. With this new found discover, I was leaping cliffs and flying through the air with regular ease. Directly into a maniacally laid set of spikes.
While there is a steady, smooth ramp of new concepts introduced and then tweaked upon, this puzzle/platformer is challenging almost from the outset. I have to give credit where credit is due, it is smart about the introduction of new mechanics. It likes to give a new puzzle type in an easy level just so the concept is understood. Once that level is complete, tinyBuild goes back to being complete bastards. For example, Marty finds himself blocked by a stack of wooden crates. To pass this, he must set himself on fire with a nearby lamp, burn through the wood, and then quickly douse himself in a pool of water. Simple enough, but I soon found myself burning and navigating a set of jumps and spikes as fast as possible to burn through another obstruction before Marty himself burns to death.
This challenge does have an element of forgiveness. For most of the levels, once Marty is on solid ground, he will always re-spawn there on his next inevitable death. The process is quick and allows for experimentation and a chance to learn that one new trick to surmount the challenge and move on. The only exceptions to this rule are during boss fights and shooting segments. There I found a limited pool of lives and a limitless amount of cursing as I learned the boss’ patterns.
In addition to puzzle variety, there is also a small amount of character variety. I particularly liked the shotgun toting version of Marty that launched himself with blasts in the opposite direction. The telekinetic version that pulled himself to a point using the power of his mind? Screw that part. I only made it through that by pure luck, and it is the sole reason I can’t give this one a perfect score.
When I got really frustrated with this one, the fantastic sense of humor pulled me through. The over the top ridiculous cries of the pained future version being dragged through the levels is thoroughly covered in the trailers, but there are also some wonderful cut scenes and goofy little animation. The opening of the time vault actually got me to laugh out loud with its overwrought ridiculousness.
With its simple cartoon graphics and steep challenge, it’s easy to recommend No Time To Explain Remastered. While it took a bit to get used to all the tricks that can be pulled off, once I did, it was a blast. If anyone finds themselves looking for a good platformer that is doesn’t stick with the normal navigational tropes, I would advise them to pick this up. Barring one infuriating sequence, No Time To Explain Remastered should be considered a future classic.