When people talk about “retro” gaming, or their own personal nostalgia, the trend seems to always be a discussion of the NES or SNES systems, but I was not a part of that generation. My nostalgia is set a bit higher, to me, my childhood resides in the good old grey square known as the Playstation, the original one mind you.
Forget the Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, my icons have been and always will be Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, and of course Final Fantasy, VII, VIII, and Tactics to be specific. However, there is another title that I played and played for hours on end every day after school, the Time Crisis series. While it seems that not many people remember anything except the arcade versions of the second installment and above, I own the fantastic original and that lovely Guncon.
Unfortunately, I had lost my copy of Time Crisis for some time and nearly completely forgotten about it, until after a routine cleaning of my bedroom uncovered that lovely blast from the past.
Excited with my buried treasure discovery, I hooked up the Guncon and Playstation only to learn that…well…that the Guncon doesn’t seem to like widescreen HD tvs, and after a bit of research, I found that indeed, the controller will not work on modern televisions, due to the way that the laser functions.
For a moment, I was disheartened, as it seemed this gem would be one I would have to bury away again…that is, until I remembered I still had one of the televisions from my past which works perfectly, and after a bit of…ahem, maintenance on the Guncon itself (cleaning the lens and smacking it until it worked), I found myself able to calibrate it properly and was off on my merry way through the incredibly corny, and downright silly, plot of Time Crisis.
You may be wondering why I would be bothering to write about this at all, as it seems to just be a young adult waxing nostalgic on a mere decade or so old game, but trust me, there is a reason, a very simple reason at that.
I found something.
It might be just me and my obsessive compulsive nature, but something that always bugged me when it came to Time Crisis was a moment in Stage 2-1, and when I say moment, I mean it, as is a mere second, if that. For the uninitiated, the game uses two modes of play, the “ACTION!” and “WAIT!” moments, determining when you can actually shoot/take cover, and what is simply the character walking from point A to point B.
Less than a minute into Stage 2, the character moves up a staircase, turns to a door with an ornate golden emblem on it…then opens it to find it leads to a drop to the ground outside, which he thinks nothing off and jumps down to the yard below to continue the stage. Hilariously, an “ambush” from one of the claw wielding enemies is utterly ruined, as you can see him perched on a structure as you fall.
This spot has always bugged me, for more than one reason. The obvious reason of course is that this is literally a door to nowhere, just thin air. Not only is this ridiculous, pointless architecture, it seems like it’s simply there as a way to get the player character onto the outside ground again quickly.
What really has confused me all this time though, is when the character looks at the door, the game enters “ACTION!” mode for a split second, for no discernible reason, before switching back to “WAIT!” as the character jumps out the door.
All this time it’s been nagging me, what is the point of that split second? Well, out of boredom on my seventh playthrough that day, I off-handedly fired a shot during that moment, which just so happened to perfectly nail the ruby-like decoration in the center of the emblem dead on. Instead of the door opening right away, the game hung for a moment, my Playstation making the sound of loading from the disk.
After about five seconds or so of loading, the game loaded the map from the Special campaign, which is odd as I was playing the normal story mode, but instead of showing a location like “Garage” or “Ballroom”, no room was highlighted, and the destination was listed as: The Impossible Room.
When that screen faded, a very soft, soothing melody started, a rather calming tune for the BGM of a shooting game. The character was moving into what I thought was outside, but was soon clearly a room with walls painted to look like sky, including a chandelier as the sun, a stream running across the center, and various stones and such, the ground seeming to be astro-turf.
After taking in this new environment for a moment, I noticed the character did not take cover behind anything; standing in the middle of the room, as well as the usual timer was missing. Instead there was a smaller time in red numbers in the upper left corner, ticking down from an incredibly generous five minutes.
As the game entered its shooting phase a few of the walls opened a bit, as if there were doors painted over, but instead of enemy soldiers coming out, it was…things. I call them things because honestly, I have no idea what they hell they actually are, large, human-like monsters made entire of what seemed to be some kind of writhing black goo started to shamble out and slowly advance towards the screen, the only real features on them being sharp sets of teeth where the mouth should be on their faces.
While reasonably terrified by these beings at their first appearance, I found that not only are they slow moving and have no method of ranged attack, they all die with a single bullet, making them a bit less of a threat.
I did however find not to let a single one get close, as getting hit by one gives you no mercy invincibility (that brief moment during the animation of you getting struck where you can’t be harmed), and they will take away all three units of your health almost instantly.
The other problem…they’re pretty much in endless supply. For five minutes, I ended up shooting at them, taking them out one by one, only having to tap the reload button as there was no cover to duck behind, but when the five minutes were up, there was the sound of a door locking, and the…things, started to spawn incredibly rapidly, to the point of five or ten of them coining out of a door at once, until the inevitable moment of being overrun, which as it would turn out, is an instant Game Over, and doesn’t even give you the option to continue, forcing me to play up to that point and try getting to the room a second time.
It took a lot of practice and time, but eventually, I trained myself to be able to activate the secret “Impossible Room” another time to give it another go. While the name of this room may seem like it’s some creepy impossible to clear thing the developers snuck into the game, the “Impossible” aspect does not mean it cannot be cleared, but I will get to that in a moment.
On my second attempt, now that the shock of seeing those things was past me, I noticed I was doing it all wrong, thinking this area was like any other level and to just be about shooting all the enemies. I noticed that one of the clouds painted on the upper portion of the wall directly across from me was flashing dully. On a whim, I tested a single shot aimed at it, you know, to experiment. “WAIT!”
The opening where the Things were coming from slammed shut, and the remaining ones disappeared, though the timer was still counting down. The character began to move again, moving from his spot in the middle of the room, to starting to climb the rocks that comprised a waterfall, the source of the stream, before a screeching sound was heard below. This time, the character took cover behind a rock.
As if the Things weren’t strange enough, the ground below was now crawling with odd, reptilian creatures, reminiscent of those dinosaurs who would spit acid at their prey. Well, more like a literally example of them, as these ones hopped about as if over caffeinated, lobbing green globs of, presumably acid, spit, hence the need for cover now. As with the Things, these creatures died in one shot, and would continuously hop into the fray from off screen.
Now, we see where this room gets its title of “Impossible”, as when I was shooting downward, I realized from the hit markers, my bullets were not going where I aimed them, and after looking at the layout of the ground below, I found out why; the room itself was one huge optical illusion.
The dinosaur like creatures would hop literally inside of rocks as if they were thin air, and disappear from view momentarily in certain spots. After I found this out, I adjusted, or at least tried to adjust, my aim, and after a while, I noticed one of the rocks blinking like the cloud from before, and shot it, prompting another “WAIT!” segment.
From here, the optical illusion aspect got more and more apparent, as the character climbed and climbed the rocks and ridges of the waterfall, which despite seeming no taller than an average gymnasium, went higher and higher, as if the room was actually several stories high. The player would move, get ambushed by the Things and creatures, have to find a glowing spot to shoot, and repeat. I ended up running out of that time limit again, with the same results, sound of locking, endless flood of enemies, Game Over.
Many, many, many attempts later, I found that the Impossible Room would go on and on, and even knowing where and when to shoot to advance, I seemed to be making little or no progress up the ridge of rocks that was the never ending waterfall.
Well, I shouldn't say never ending, as it did end, after about fifteen ambush segments, fighting those Things and the dinos, until reaching the final “WAIT!” segment, when the character reached the top of the waterfall, only to find all the water was coming from a slit in the ceiling, and right in the corner was a deep hole into a dark void. He stares into it for a moment, and turns to find the Things right behind him. Silently, push him in, the player getting a first person view of falling into the darkness.
After that, the game hangs again, loading from the disk presumably, and the player is immediately thrown into the boss fight against Sherudo, no cut-scene, no Act 2-2, and from there on, the game functions like normal.
I can only guess at the meaning behind the Impossible Room, it’s disturbingly calm music, creepily soothing atmosphere, and…those Things. I haven’t found anyone else mention this secret before, and I have even bought a second copy of the game and found it works on that one too, so it’s not some odd hack on my version.
In the end, I don’t think I want to know.