Time & Eternity
There’s really nothing more dramatic than tragedy striking at what should be a joyous occasion, and nothing fits that better than an assassination attempt on the wedding day of Princess Toki and Zack. The groom heroically throws himself in front of his wife and takes the fatal blow. His final thoughts? How cool he looks—not how much he loves Toki, or even that getting stabbed really hurts.
That in a nutshell sets the tone for the experience that is Time & Eternity, an anime-inspired JRPG from NIS America. The assassination is just the beginning as Toki reveals she has an alternate personality dwelling within her—Towa, a psychotic blonde that likes to let her blade to the talking. Toki’s other secret is that she has some time-traveling abilities and sends the both of them back to six months before the assassination takes place.
Zack’s soul inadvertently gets stuck in the body of Toki’s pet dragon Drake, with no way to communicate. Zack is presumably the game’s protagonist, but it’s his fiance that takes the spotlight. Regardless, every character is awful, even by the barest of standards set by well-worn anime cliches. Zack himself is little more than a one-stop shop for sex jokes and schticks about trying to see naked girls.
He seems like an immature, overly-horny teen that could barely handle a kiss without gushing blood from his nose, let alone actually marrying someone. Toki herself is demure to the point of absurdity and her friends are equally bubble-headed. Towa, who is supposed to be the only empowered character, has that dashed when she keeps declining a dessert because she might gain weight.
Graphically, the game attempts to imitate a high-quality anime with hand-drawn sprites, but the illusion is shattered by choppy animation, missing frames, and recycled assets. Towa is nothing more than a palette swap as are enemies and scenery. For a budget title, that’s forgivable to an extent, but the sheer amount of recycling is ridiculous to the point where character animations are repeated a dozen times in the same cutscene. Every enemy is a palette-swap of another, and it quickly becomes obvious serious corners were cut during production.
The combat system itself is an uncomplicated process. Fighting takes place from two ranges—away for rifle damage and up close for knife-fighting. Toki is better at the rifle and Towa does more damage with the knife. The rifle never runs out of ammo and since it’s not turn-based, players can hold down the fire button and take out every enemy that way.
Since enemies can only be fought one-at-a-time, it often feels like an RPG version of Punch-Out completed with tired dodging and blocking, further drawing out what should be quick battles. The sluggish pace is further exacerbated by tedious wandering from point A to B across deserted landscapes to fight the big baddie before going home and engaging in another asinine conversation with the game’s cast.
Its story amounts to little more than misfired jokes about an obnoxious perv trying to look up as many skirts as possible. With an annoying cast of characters whose fates players won’t care about, a plot that refuses to go anywhere, and an obscene amount of asset-recycling, gamers will give up on Time & Eternity long before they’ve even gotten to the annoying battle system.