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Admit it: whenever you play those Light Gun Games, the absurd amount of enemies that constantly chip away your health/life makes you believe The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. How are you ever suppose to stop this onslaught? Enter Time Crisis by Namco Bandai, a series of Light Gun Games for the arcades, now in its fourth iteration. Its main distinguishing feature is its use of a foot pedal: the player holds the pedal down to attack; when the pedal is released, the player hides behind a nearby wall/tree/bench/other object and is safe from attack, but can't retaliate. This means that unlike most light gun games, any attack can be dodged without harm even once it's been launched, although the reaction time you have can be punishingly low.
Each game follows a different set of characters as they gun their way through unrelated international crises. The only two constants are the VSSE (Vital Situation Swift Execution), a Heroes-R-Us organization the heroes belong to, and "Wild Dog", a freelance mercenary who serves as each villain's Dragon, despite blowing himself up in increasingly impressive pyrotechnics each time.
As one might expect, time is an important part of the series. A timer is constantly running down to zero, being replenished each time you clear a "room" of enemies. In the first game, the timer was the main challenge: it had strict limits, and you lost all your lives if time ran out. Later games toned it down considerably: you only lose one life, and the limits are much easier to deal with. In fact, they mostly just prevent excessive turtling and make sure the player eventually dies even if they never press the pedal.
Starting with Time Crisis 2, the game is set up as two cabinets hooked together for two-player co-operative play. Both players will go through the levels at slightly different vantage points on the action and sections with more pronounced differences (one player on the ground, the another on a railing above). As an added bonus, a red reticule used by a Mook is visualized as a direct hit to the player, thus allowing them to know exactly when they should let go of the pedal to dodge (which wasn't present in the first, another reason why the original was so strict). Time Crisis 3 grants players extra weapons, in the form of a machine gun, shotgun and grenade launcher, which were more powerful but had limited ammunition. To refill them, players had to shoot a specific yellow Mook. The latest Time Crisis 4 forces players to take part in "Multi-Screen Scenarios", where near endless Mooks come and attack from different directions (until the timer reaches zero, and provided that the player survives).
Also worth mentioning here is Time Crisis: Project Titan, a Gaiden Game/semi-sequel that follows the protagonist in the first, which actually showcases the "Multi-Screen Scenario" before 4, and Crisis Zone, basically Time Crisis with a machine gun. It's sometimes considered part of the same series or at least a spinoff, thanks to the loose connections between the main games, although neither the VSSE nor Wild Dog appear. Another similar game, Razing Storm, is a combination of 3 and Crisis Zone with Playstation3 hardware, featuring two members of a hi-tech special forces unit. Like Zone, the players have a machine gun as their standard weapon, but will switch to special weapons like rocket launchers and sniper rifles as the situation warrants, such as sniping rooftop sentries to give a squadmate time to call down a Kill Sat strike or when a Humongous Mecha crashes the party.
The games have been ported to all three generations of Playstations; the original and Project Titan for Play Station, 2 and 3 and Crisis Zone for Play Station 2, and 4 and Razing Storm for PlayStation 3 (though 4 was done twice over: once as its own game with a rather awkward light gun, and again as an additional title to Razing Storm, alongside DeadStorm Pirates. All three games utilize the Move). Additionally, the original, 3, 4 (the first release), Crisis Zone and Razing Storm have exclusive scenarios not found in the arcades that expands more of the story, usually from another character's perspective. There's been several ports to the iPad as well.
Tropes for the series include: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Tropes specifically for Razing Storm should head there; it has its own page)
- Action Girl: Alicia in 3.
- All There in the Manual: For the first game, we had to read the manual to learn the backstory behind the game. The later games didn't even supply names for the most of the bosses you face (well, the ones that weren't Wild Dog or the villain of the day).
- Always Close: The ending of 2, 3, and 4.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: In the original, Sherudo Garo was the last remaining heir of the Garo royal family that ruled over Sercia for a millennium. After the regime was toppled by a revolution, he attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government by kidnapping the president's daughter Rachel and demands the country to be restored to a monarchy in return for her safety or he will have her killed.
- Arm Cannon: Wild Dog continues to attach more to it, in the form of a rocket launcher, flamethrower, grappling hook and a tractor beam...
- A-Team Firing: In installments that offer multiplayer, if only one player is playing or if the game is in solo mode, the unused player character is shown attacking and hiding just like you...but none of his shots will connect.
- Also worth noting: if one player clears out all of his enemies, any enemies that only the other player can hit RETREAT. Yes, this means that one player could embody this trope, get 0 accuracy, and STILL play through the entire game if the other player is good. In single player, however, watching the COM's screen when behind cover can let you know when it's safe to pop your head out.
- Awesome but Impractical: Wild Dog's "tractor beam" Arm Cannon in 4; just beat him and you'll see why.
- Badass Longcoat: Wild Dog in later installments, when there's enough polygons to spare. His apprentice, Wild Fang, has his own as well.
- Big Bad: Sherudo Garo in 1, Ernesto Diaz in 2, Giorgio Zott and Jake Hernandez in 3, and Gregory Barrows in 4.
- Bishonen: Every protagonist in 2 and 3, one half of the player characters in 4, plus Wild Fang.
- Blind Idiot Translation: Crisis Zone named the hero Croad McGalain and one of the bosses Eddy. The Playstation2 version fixed them into Claude McGarren and Edge, respectively.
- Bonus Level: Razing Storm passes its fourth stage (only accessible if you complete the missile sequence of Stage 3) off as a "bonus" stage.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: In Stage 3 of 2, Ernesto Diaz uses Christy Ryan as a shield, and this will stop any misplaced shot meant for him. Shooting her will not hurt or kill her, but you'll lose 5,000 points for doing so.
- The Coats Are Off: Wild Dog does this before fighting him in every game .
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Soldiers in red have precision aim and always connect with their first shot, blue/gray are fodder and orange are bonuses. Similarly, Player 1 characters wear red and Player 2 characters wear blue. By 3 and 4, shooting yellow soldiers rack up additional ammo for weapons aside from the default handgun (a single shot's enough to kill them, but the more you shoot them, the more ammo you get). Also, green soldiers have lifebars, i.e. one shot isn't enough to take them out, and enemies in camo gear throw grenades and knives.
- Concealment Equals Cover: You hide behind some pretty questionable items, such as park benches, vendor carts, and empty barrels. Worse yet, this allows you to hide from all damage, including high explosives and thrown grenades, since enemies aim for your head, not your location.
- Conservation of Ninjitsu: One or two secret agents against entire terrorist organizations. Who would you see winning?
- Continuing Is Painful: During the continue screen of the first game, the elapsed time keeps running. In the console version, as well as the "Rescue Mission" from 3, you start the area over. In 4, your combo meter resets, making it hard to string combos again, and if you fail a Multi-Screen section, you lose your time bonus for the area.
- Cosmetic Award: From 2 onwards, clearing the game without using a continue and making the high scores list will put a star next to your initials.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Gregory Barrows, the Big Bad of 4, is unusually Genre Savvy for a Light Gun Game villain. He not only allows his Faceless Goons to use their secret weapon from the VERY beginning of the game and outruns the heroes in a race to get more of said weapon, he actually manages to hide his true plans until the last level (while usually they're given away on the game's "insert coin" trailer). On a minor note, the stealth fighters he stole and sent to destroy all major cities in the United States with nuclear missiles are controlled by a separate informatic system, so they can't be hacked by usual computers to be stopped, thus using the Evil Overlord List rule #50. He still fails to beat the good guys, though.
- Alas, he's still a victim of Genre Blindness: a nuclear missile-launching computer system that could be completely shut down by pressing a single button. That didn't even require a login or password or any other type of validation. Chain's only as strong as the weakest link, bub!
- A rare example in for the mooks as well: during the level at the air force base in 4, Captain Rush and the National Guard requests fire support. As soon as you show up, the enemy imminently focuses all their firepower on you instead of the helpless National Guard soldiers.
- Considering they work for the above example, this isn't too surprising.
- Dead Hat Shot: The first boss of 2, upon crashing his boat, leaves behind his bowler hat and his suitcase at the surface of the water.
- Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: In 2 and 3, your only penalty for continuing is not having a star next to your name on the initials screen. 4 does this too, but also with the aforementioned subversion.
- Distressed Damsel: The original, Project Titan and 2. Averted in 3 with Alicia as the Action Girl and 4 with Elizabeth, who serves as Mission Control.
- The Dragon: Wild Dog.
- Dragon Their Feet: In the first game.
- Dual Boss: Wild Dog and Big Bad Ernesto Diaz fight you together in the final level of 2. You fight Wild Dog and his apprentice Wild Fang in 3.
- Dual Wield: It's possible on 2 through 4, but due to how the arcade cabinets are designed, it's very hard to do.
- Dueling Games: Police911, which is basically Time Crisis EXCEPT YOU ARE THE PEDAL!
- Evil Laugh: Many of the villains such as Sherudo Garo from 1, Giogrio Zott from 3, and Gregory Barrows from 4, but Wild Dog does this the most.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: There's a crisis, see, and you need to stop it in time...
- Fan Vid: Combining it with memetic juggernaut Touhou.
- The Federation: Averted: the Zagorias Federation in 3 is a militaristic fascist dictatorship that invaded Astigos Island in an attempt to take over its neighboring state of Lukano.
- Flung Clothing: Alicia in her console scenario for 3. She changes from a bikini top and shorts into... her uniform... somehow...
- Wild Dog with his overcoat, as well as Wild Fang.
- Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Arguably, Wild Dog in later games. He has no connection to the Zagorians in 3 or the Hamlin Battalion in 4; he's just there to give the VSSE a hard time.
- Guns Akimbo: Wild Dog again, and there's nothing like Guns Akimbo where one of the guns is an Arm Cannon.
- President Evil Giorgio Zott, the final boss of 3, dual-wields a pair of rocket launchers in his final phase.
- Possible for the player in home versions, usually as an unlockable.
- Hand Cannon: Make, model and calibre never come up, but given it's possible to cherry tap anything to death with them (ranging from gigantic VTOL craft to an old WWII artillery bunker) they must be something pretty impressive.
- Heroes-R-Us: The VSSE, with different agents in each game:
- 1/Project Titan: Richard Miller
- 2: Keith Martin and Robert Baxter
- 3: Alan Dunaway and Wesley Lambert
- 4: Giorgio Bruno and Evan Bernard
- Furthermore, the STF (Special Task Force) and player character Claude McGarren in Crisis Zone, and SCAR members Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 in Razing Storm.
- Heroic Mime: Richard Miller, the completely silent protagonist of the first game. Later titles give protagonists voices, but only during cutscenes.
- Hold the Line: Some Multi-Screen segments in 4 require you to protect a barricade until reinforcements arrive. Enemy response is noticeably more aggressive in these sections.
- Hostage Spirit Link: Variant: you just lose points. 3's "Rescue Mission", on the other hand...
- Implacable Man: Wild Dog must have taken at least a million bullets to all parts of his body AND survived FOUR self destructions, three of them his own doing. And yet, he's always back for more...
- Improbable Aiming Skills: "An anti-tank rifle, one-handed?! Who is this guy?"
- Improbable Weapon User: A boss in 2 uses an ICBM as a battering ram.
- The stage 2 boss of 4 continuously wrestles Captain William Rush, who he throws at you.
- Joker Immunity, Not Quite Dead: Wild Dog. Alan and Wesley even lampshade it in the third game:
Wesley: Wild Dog?!
- Kaizo Trap: Since the time in the original and Project Titan keep running even between action frames, it's possible for the clock to run out after you take down a helicopter or another mechanical boss as its "death" animation plays. Fortunately this isn't an issue with human bosses: for them, the clock stops once you make the killing shot.
- Kill Sat: The crisis needing to be averted in 2...which the Big Bad uses as his weapon in the final battle.
- In Razing Storm, your allies have one, and it's used to destroy the Big Bad and finish off the boss of Stage 3.
- Knife Nut: Sherudo Garo from the first game.
- La Résistance: The Lukano Liberation Army in 3.
- Large Ham: Jack Mathers, the Stage 2 boss of 4.
- Leitmotif: Wild Dog, and also General Diaz in 2.
- Luck-Based Mission: Arguably the first game. It's hard to tell when shots can hit you or not from the blue mooks (the red ones are a given as are bazooka men and thrown grenades or knives. As well as environmental damage.) Making dodging a guessing game, plus the timer will continue running after beating tougher opponents.
- Mission Control: Elizabeth in 4.
- More Dakka: The helicopter scenes in 4. Very, very much so.
- Not that it prevents other bosses in the series indulging in their own: the second boss in 2 uses a machine gun turret, a gatling gun and an ICBM as a battering ram, while Ernesto fights using a Kill Sat. 3 has the first boss use a VTOL's armaments, a machine gun, a gatling gun, and in the Rescue Mission, a rocket launcher. Giorgio Zott switches from an assault rifle and sword combo to TWIN ROCKET LAUNCHERS. They really want you dead.
- Nintendo Hard
- The first mostly, where you can't tell what shot's going to hurt (aside from enemies), bullets that "graze" you as you go into cover can still count as lethal, the timer constantly goes down no matter what's going on, the timer only increases (by a variable amount) when you clear out an action point or hit certain enemies (and even then, only up to 60 seconds), and you lose all your lives if the timer runs out.
- Nuke'Em: The last stage of 4 has you averting a plan to nuke every major American city.
- One-Man Army: The original and Project Titan specifically describes Richard as this. Of course, subverted when the sequels become a two man army.
- Actually, the sequels offer an option to play the game "solo" instead of going at it "link-play". So, in a way, a solo player can be a One-Man Army...
- Although that being said, 2 and 3 still show an onscreen partner, though what with the use of an allied AI, it's possible to do all the legwork yourself.
- One Riot, One Ranger: The whole point of VSSE is to send in one or two guys with pistols to solve international crises.
- Out of the Inferno: The protagonists of 3 do this when the base they were fighting in collapses.
- Parental Bonus: In Stage 2 Area 3 of 4, Elizabeth calls out the boss' moves, one of which she calls "F...!"
- Pitiful Worms: Wild Dog in 4 says this to the VSSE.
Wild Dog: Annoying bunch of little flies...
- Plot Armor: Claude's extremely resilient riot shield.
- The President's Daughter: Rachel in the first game.
- Previous Player Character Cameo: Starting in 2, the final mission of the home versions of each game's extra mission mode pit you against previous protagonists. While 2 plays it straight by pitting you against Richard Miller, 3 and 4 do it a little differently, instead pitting you against the agents you played as in the main story.
- Rewarding Vandalism: Some objects, usually crates or barrels, can be blown up to kill enemies within its blast radius. From 2 onwards, this is accompanied by a point bonus. Also, shooting an inanimate, destructible object counts toward your hit combo.
- Ruritania: Sercia in 1 and Lukano in 3.
- Banana Republic: Caruba in Project Titan.
- Scoring Points: The original had a high score table sorted by time. From 2 onwards, the game uses a points system that focuses far more on combos and accuracy than time.
- Spiritual Successor: Two of them: first Crisis Zone, then that in turn had its own spiritual sequel Razing Storm.
- Sequel Difficulty Drop: Time Crisis 2 onwards are generally easier to get into, mostly thanks to the timer always starting at 40 seconds after changing action points and resetting whenever you lose a life (including when the timer hits 0, which no longer is an instant game over).
- Stuff Blowing Up: Steadily escalating with each incarnation.
- Take Cover: Just step off the pedal. Also one of the earliest examples in the Light Gun Game genre.
- Take Your Time: Inverted: one of the big experiments of Time Crisis was to put continual chronological pressure on the player throughout the entire game, directly contradicting that trope.
- However, 4 has two segments that play this trope straight: a sniping segment in Stage 1 Area 2 where you must shoot a truck before it enters a tunnel (which never appears), and the final boss battle, where you must defeat the Big Bad before nuclear missile-armed stealth bombers reach their targets (it's Always Close).
- Telephone Polearm: Done with an ICBM, no less.
- They Killed Kenny: Wild Dog. Every game always has someone asking how he survived his suicide bombs.
- And Wild Fang.
- Throwing Your Knife Always Works: Unlike bullets, knives will always take a life off if you don't dodge. Factor in speed, and a mook with a knife is literally more dangerous than one with a rocket launcher.
- This is only true based on the difficulty: on easy difficulty, rockets and knives can miss if there isn't a red flash when launched, just like any other attack. It's still more likely to hit than an enemy firing a machine gun at you though, and what arcade machine is going to be set to easy?
- Timed Mission: Duh...
- Though the time limit is only a major problem in the first game. From 2 onwards, it'll usually only run out if you're really slacking off.
- Traintop Battle: In 2 and 3
- T-Word Euphemism: In 4 (arcade version), there's a sequence where you continually (more or less) shoot at a boss while he's wrestling with an ally. As usual, you are being debriefed on the situation by Mission Control via intercom (this is basically narration of the game script, which is also displayed at the bottom of the screen). For whatever reason, she decides to name the wrestling moves used by the boss. After a few ordinary examples, the script comes up "F---!" at the bottom of the screen - and she actually yells out, "Eff!"
- The Japanese version (which had Japanese dialogue for all characters) took it a half-step farther, having Conway go "F U!"
- Western Terrorists: In 4, the terrorists that you're fighting are revealed to be a unit of the U.S. military, the Bio-Weapons Special Ops Unit, or the Hamlin Battalion.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: In the first game, you actually fight the Big Bad in Stage 2, and fight Wild Dog in Stage 3. It's not The Man Behind the Man, though: Wild Dog just decides to continue the plan on his own.
- Razing Storm's Stage 3. "Okay, all mooks sniped off, Kill Sat fires and kills the Big Bad, 'Mission Complete!' appears...wait, isn't this the first section of Stage 3?" And then, assuming you stop a wave of cluster missiles from wiping you out at the end of the stage, you have one more whole stage to go.
- From Time Crisis 2 onward, if you are not EXACTLY in shooting position, you cannot be hit, allowing for really quick "dodges" where red bullets would clip the camera but not result in loss of life. Doing the same thing in the first one will result in loss of life and time