An unfortunate burn by a Russian publisher lead to a bittersweet launch in 2011, but developer tinyBuild have returned to give No Time To Explain the remaster it deserves on the Xbox One. It’s a comedy platfomer where you forgo jumping in favor of propelling yourself with a jetpack gun, get fat by eating cake, and save the future from.. well, you.
The game starts off with a visit from your future self who’s promptly mauled and dragged along by a massive space crab. Picking up their jetpack gun, you launch yourself across a ton of short-but-ferociously challenging levels that will no doubt cause more than a few rage inducing moments of precise platforming bliss. This mechanic is something you’ll either grow to love over time, or loathe with every fiber of your being.
“…successfully combines polished gameplay with pure insanity.”
I was in the latter camp for the first hour or so, as the game rapidly took me out of my comfort zone. I love platformers, and each level seemed so easy on paper if I could only jump like a normal person, but that damn jetpack gun is such a troll! All I have to do is make it across this hallway full of sharp parts and I’m home free, and I can’t because I suck at jetpacking and my future self won’t stop screaming or pretending to be a pterodactyl.
Using the right analog stick aims your hot piece of science and propels you in the opposite direction. As your only reliable method of transportation, this requires a bit of finesse when used for longer jumps, hovering over spikes, or slowing yourself before ramming face first in to other pointy objects that aren’t your friends. There’s also a fair amount of variety in the game, as the same mechanic is used while blasting around with a shotgun or slinging around walls like Spider-Man wearing a straight-jacket. Oh, and there’s also a dedicated “dance” button, so there’s that to look forward to.
The level designs are pretty fun, with standouts including a world made entirely of junk food and a futuristic space lab rife with opportunities to impale yourself on spikes or meet the wrong end of a gravity laser. Each zone also ends with a traditional boss fight, reminiscent of something you might find in Contra or Mega Man game. I fought an armored orb surrounded by magnets, forcing me to bend my laser while dodging falling debris and its massive butt slam. I took down a speedy mole who shot lasers and used its drill-hands to dig through walls and pepper me with rocks. There’s even a throwback to an old Dr. Robotnik fight, where I had to put on some major lbs. and roll down a hill in order to expose a weak point.
As I mentioned earlier, No Time To Explain is pretty challenging, but once I started to get a little better, I had no interest in putting the game down. It’s such a refreshing and punishing platformer with an absurd sense of humor that really hit all of the right notes without becoming stagnant. One minute I’m eating cake and getting fat, so I can roll down hills and break stuff like a morbidly obese Sonic the Hedgehog, and the next I’m in a 2D shoot-em-up blowing the head off a triceratops equipped with lasers and a grenade launcher.
“…what started out as something I immediately wanted to uninstall quickly became one of the most enjoyable platformers I’ve played thus far in 2015.”
If you’re the type who easily rage quits, you may want to look elsewhere, but there’s definitely a rewarding platformer here for those willing to take the plunge. Achievements actually require work to unlock, like beating an entire level while holding Y to dance–essentially you end up playing through the level and its accompanied boss fight without using the entire left side of the controller. There’s a lot of replay value, with tons of customization items to find scattered around each level, and even a 4-player local co-op mode for you and your friends to get fat and shoot shit together.
No Time To Explain isn’t the most accessible game, and the humor definitely isn’t for everyone, but what started out as something I immediately wanted to uninstall quickly became one of the most enjoyable platformers I’ve played thus far in 2015. Aside from its strict learning curve, I don’t really have any complaints about the game at all. It successfully combines polished gameplay with pure insanity, like Super Time Force, or Hotline Miami, and hopefully we’ll see more from tinyBuild on Xbox here in the future. (Yes, this is me begging for Speedrunners and Lovely Planet.)
Recommended for fans of: Challenging 2D platformers
*This review is based on the Xbox One version of No Time To Explain, which is also available on PC.