Hands-On Preview: Time for Epic

No iOS developer wants to miss out on the Castle Defense craze! The latest entrants into this crowded genre parade are Ipanema Games, and it will be the Campinas-based studio’s second App Store venture. Their secret weapons? Time travel, cocos2d, and lots of over-the-top macabre humor, by the looks of the early preview build we spent some time with over the weekend.

The game’s kooky premise goes something like this. No sooner does a space-age scientist crack the secrets of time travel than a gaggle of brain-in-jar aliens descend upon his time portal. To resolve this situation, the scientist yanks out a wizard who’s a dead ringer for Gandalf, and a Ghostbusters wannabe who is ever the butt of Where’s Waldo? jokes. These appear to be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cultural references in Time for Epic.

Gameplay wise, Time for Epic feels like Hills of Glory: WWII and Magic Defenders tossed into a blender and presented from a side-view perspective. The player’s attacks vary with gesture: tapping on incoming enemies commands Waldo to zap them with his ray gun, while swiping makes Randalf summon an energy orb that the player can slash around the screen, Fruit Ninja-style. Each hero character gets three drag-and-drop special attacks with distinct area effects; some target a lane or set up a narrow barricade, while others will nuke the entire battlefield. Literally. However the player prefers to dispatch them, enemy limbs will litter the screen in copious amounts.

Only the two heroes seen in all the Time for Epic media released so far were available during our preview playthrough, but auto-attacking drones can beef up the time portal’s defenses if they’re purchased between stages. The usual smattering of hero upgrades are also on tap. What makes Time for Epic most interesting is its Time Marker mechanic, which was hinted at but not yet implemented in the build we played. Levels are measured in days and the portal defense appears to last up to 60; the player must divert some reward cash to set a Time Marker the heroes can warp back to in case of failure. No doubt balancing the checkpoint system with upgrades and repairs on the besieged time machine will present quite a resource management challenge as the enemy waves press onward.

We’ll have more on Time for Epic as it nears release. In the meantime, stay tuned to Ipanema Games’ Facebook page and Twitter feed for more news — looks your Portuguese skills will come in handy for now, though!