The most deadly meal of the day
I’d imagine that Force of Habit, the Bristol based developers behind the zany arena shoot-em-up Toast Time, conjured up the idea for this game through a cocktail of sleep deprivation and missed meals. I can hear their mad proclamations in my head as I type: “We’d love to treat the team to a nice breakfast of eggs and soldiers, but our toaster’s run off to save the world…”
Toast Time begins with our heroic kitchen appliance-cum-agent of death TERRY (clever shorthand for Toast Ejecting Recoil & Reload system) taking a stand in the middle of a sky blue playfield as adorable alien assassins charge from all sides. This cosmic menace has their sights set on a ticking clock counting down to the end of one level and the beginning of the next, and it’s up to TERRY to zap them with a lethal assortment of baked goods before they reach said timer, end the game, and impose Martian law on this fever dream of a planet.
Dispatching enemies is as simple as touching them on your screen. TERRY will then launch his delicious projectiles in that direction, but to make the most out of the targeting system you’ll often have to lead your shots. Movement is handled through the same system – instead of using an onscreen joystick, you fire at the ground, and the recoil from your blast sends you flying in the opposite direction in a gamey interpretation of Newtonian law.
As you ping around your environment, you’ll receive help via crates air-dropped from the sky. Shooting them down results in momentary weapon upgrades including Toasties (two slices of toast firing at once), Baguettes (long loafs that split in many deadly slices upon impact with the ground), Farmhouse Slices (rapid fire mini toast), and around a dozen more. Chain your combos for a high score and a chance to enter Coffee Time, which is what they call bullet time in the world where Toasters come to life.
Toast Time is rendered in a now familiar neo retro style, simplified and pixilated. There’s not much color variation here sprite-wise, with a white toaster firing white projectiles at white enemies, but you can spice up the looks of TERRY a bit with the tailor option that allows you to add various hats, accessories, and expressions to your avatar (I’m quite fond of the bowler hat, eye patch, and bo staff combination myself), and each of the five worlds does have its own color and theme.
Musically though, Toast Time is loaded with content. Each of the 45 levels has its very own high quality chiptune track that synchs brilliantly with the intense on-screen action. The sound effects are also very well done. This is seriously one of my favorite indie soundtracks of the year. Kudos to the team.
Apart from wanting to see a bit more color in the sprite work, I really don’t have much to complain about here. The gameplay is challenging but intuitive, the soundtrack is great, the extras (which include a survival/score attack mode, achievements, and a leaderboard, in addition to the previously mentioned character creation) are plentiful, the replayability factor is high, and the game is infused with the kind of old school charm that character-based games from the 80s were loaded with. This one definitely landed butter side up.