|Designer(s)||Takashi Sano (supervisor)|
|Genre(s)||Light gun shooter
|Arcade system||Namco System Super 22|
|Display||Horizontal orientation, Raster, 640 x 480 resolution|
Time Crisis is a three-dimensional first person rail shooter similar to Virtua Cop and The House of the Dead installments, in which the player holds a light gun and goes through the motions of firing at on-screen enemies. Time Crisis is best known for its cover system, in which players can duck behind cover to avoid enemy fire and reload his weapon. There are three stages, each consisting of three areas and a boss battle. Unique features are described here in:
- A foot pedal which performs multiple functions: when the pedal is released, the player takes cover to conserve hit points while reloading the gun. While the pedal is released, the player cannot attack. In console conversions, a button command replicates the foot pedal's functions. The player loses a life if he is hit by a direct bullet or obstacle whilst not taking cover, with the game ends if he/she loses all lives.
- A light gun (introduced in Point Blank) which utilized a special memory chip to synchronize areas of the screen's image as the player rotates the gun around. The light gun also features a blowback function which simulates real-life gun recoil.
- A countdown timer, recharged by clearing an area of enemies, as running down the clock causes an instant game over, the player must take risks, shooting enemies rapidly and hiding only when necessary. A time extension is rewarded when an area is passed. There are also time bonuses awarded for shooting certain enemies quickly.
The PlayStation port features an exclusive side-story mode, in which the player's performance, such as how quickly he can clear an area, affects the path he takes through the game, resulting in multiple possibilities.
The main plot of the original Time Crisis arcade game release involves an attempted corp in the fictional republic of Sercia. For a millennium, the Garo family ruled Sercia with an iron fist. In 1995, the V.S.S.E. International Intelligence Agency sent William MacPherson, who successfully toppled the Garo regime and became its first democratically elected president.
The last remaining member of the Garo family, Sherudo Garo, sought to recapture the throne from the hands of President MacPherson. He sends a mercenary named Wild Dog and kidnaps the president's daughter, Rachel. Garo demands military secrets in return for Rachel's safe return or he will kill her by sunset. V.S.S.E. sends its best agent, Richard Miller (also called the One-Man Army) to break in, invade Garo's castle and rescue Rachel.
Miller makes his way through the lower levels of the castle only to find a trap set up by Moz, one of Garo's henchmen armed with a clawed hand. After defeating Moz and being directed to the clock tower, Richard works up through the upper levels of the castle and finds Rachel and Garo. Garo pulls out his knives and they battle, which ends when Miller kills him; however, Wild Dog reappears, kidnaps Rachel, and drags her away. Miller pursues Wild Dog, and it finally ends on a bridge just outside of the castle. Wild Dog begins detonating the castle and is planning to fly away on a helicopter, shooting Rachel in the arm as she tries to escape. After a rough battle, Miller shoots Wild Dog, causing him to drop his radio detonator and becomes engulfed in the destruction. Miller and Rachel safely make it out and return home.
The Kantaris deal is a side special story exclusive to the PlayStation version of Time Crisis, later made as Time Crisis: Project Titan. Miller has received orders to infiltrate a mysterious hotel known as Chateau Du Luc, which is operated by Kantaris, leader of the smuggling network of the same name. The V.S.S.E. has received positive verification that Kantaris supplied arms to the Wild Dogs, and it's up to Miller's mission to disband this organization. Exactly how this happens will differ depending on the player's performance in this story. Depending on these different routes, Miller may face off against Kantaris' pet cyborg "Web Spinner" in the ballroom, a giant robot in the Lounge, a Spider-like tank in the Parking Lot, or the Kantaris gunship on the Heliport. The story will end with a "Mission Complete" message if the player managed to gun down Kantaris' car, destroyed the robot in enough time so it causes Kantaris to be pushed out of the window, or shoot down the gunship. However, it will end with a "Mission Failed" message if Kantaris managed to get away or remained alive. It is likely that Time Crisis: Project Titan takes place after the final mission, if it was a failure.
In 1997, a soundtrack known as "Time Crisis Arcade Soundtrack" was released. Later another soundtrack known as Time Crisis 3D Sound Ensemble was released. The soundtrack contains audio dramas that depicts events during and before the first game, such as Miller's battle against Sherudo from the game.