If you were an expert pilot who could travel through time, would you A) take over the world B) defend it from the kinds of people who would take over the world or C) fly back to the 80's and get rich betting on sports? In Time Ace, a new Konami rail shooter for the Nintendo DS, the decision is made for you. Instead of seizing a millennium's worth of royal rights or following in the fat footsteps of Biff Tannen, you thwart the anachronistic schemes of the evil Dr. Scythe as the scruffy Dr. Clock and, ultimately, save time as you know it. It's kind of ironic. After all, as you're saving time in the game, you're killing it at a bus stop or in a line and probably having a decent bit of fun. Unfortunately, your intrepid hero is so capable, he defeats Scythe in a measly few hours. Talk about a brief history of time. By the same token, this isn't an amazing journey back to the future. Time Ace has its share of bogies, such as rather poor graphics, funky mechanics, and a dumb plot to name a few, but at least it comes with a budget price tag.
The game begins with Dr. Clock and his assistant, Scythe, working in a lab on the time machine. Clock presumably leaves in his car called the Deathtrap to go spend an evening with his wife, Widow. But while Clock is gone, Scythe steals the time machine. Even more surprising than Scythe's theft of the only time machine in the world is the fact that Clock can still travel through the ages in his rusty old biplane.
And so, improbably, the game begins as you travel back in time to World War I where Scythe is hijacking a train full of weapons. Because this is a rail shooter, your plane is in the middle of the screen, traveling in a set direction. You can move up, down, left or right, shoot your machine guns, and barrel roll. As you fly onward, firing and rolling, enemies approach you on their own sets of rails. These almost always include a cluster of three planes and a tank on the ground.
If you can handle three planes and a tank, you can beat Time Ace. Actually, scratch that: You don't have to handle anything if you don't want to. Because this is a rail shooter, enemies you fly past are as good as dead. Additionally, your enemies will always be one step behind, firing at where you were, instead of where you will be because they can't lead you with their shots. All you have to do is keep moving, and you don't really have any choice on account of, well, this is a rail shooter.
While it sounds silly, in all seriousness, you can literally fly through the majority of the game. The only parts you can't avoid are boss and miniboss fights. In these, you're given free range of motion, except you can only stray so far from your target, which is usually a big ship. If you shoot it, preferably with rockets, it blows up, and you continue. It sounds simple, but if you don't have any rockets, it can be a nightmare, especially in the early parts of the game.