The popularity of Sabrina: The Teenage Witch in the 90’s surprisingly didn’t see as much crossover as you might think. Whereas many other TV series’ got loads and loads of tie-ins, Sabrina only got a few. Most appearing on the PC.
Sabrina: A Twitch in Time is third-person 3D platformer released on the PS1 in 2001. It is the perfect example of just how poorly designed many PS1 games where. It has some of the most frustrating controls I’ve ever experienced. As well as one of the worst cameras ever. Both those two things make it nearly unplayable. If you do perversely play on you’ll find a wholly unsatisfying game that just isn’t much fun to play.
The story sees Sabrina’s cat, Salem causing trouble and managing to break the Cosmic Clock. Time is now in jeopardy and the evil villain, Chaos is unleashed! It’s up to Sabrina to travel through time collecting the clock pieces all while fending off Chaos’ minions leading to a climactic battle with the villain!
It’s a story we’ve seen a thousand times before and that’s fine, it’s simple and easy to understand. You begin in a hub and each world has three levels for you to complete culminating in a boss battle.
Along the way the half-witch will have to collect gems that are scattered throughout and these are spent on outfits for her to wear. Sabrina can buy these from the ‘Fashion Diva’ in the hub and they allow her to enter certain portals in certain levels. You’ll have to replay levels once you’ve got Sabrina in the right costume to find all the clock pieces.
It seems like a solid idea until you realise it was done more than likely to avoid having to come up with new worlds and level designs.
That’s the least of A Twitch in Time’s problems though. It is pure frustration to play because of Sabrina’s movements and the horrible camera. She is sluggish and awkward to control with jumping being the worst of it. Every jump feels like a leap into the unknown. Not such a problem if it’s not a chasm as Sabrina will take a little damage allowing you to carry on.
Then there is the aiming of spells. Something the game can’t make up it’s mind about how it should be. Face an enemy but you need to be close enough for the spell to actually hit otherwise it just goes through them. There are different spells but as almost all enemies take three hits to die, there really isn’t a difference. Quickly, you’ll find yourself just running past many especially as some can not be damaged. Another really frustrating element and making combat a joke.
It gets no better at a boss battle as it requires no skill, only pattern learning to defeat them. They all play out in the exact same fashion. Most of your deaths are more likely to come from falling to your doom.
The games save system is generous though and you’ll amass plenty of lives without really trying.
Visually the game looks pretty poor and is on the lower end of PS1’s graphical scale. Everything looks like it has sharp edges and the textures are rotten. The bright colours can’t make up for the fact that there’s just nothing interesting to look at most of the time but the character models are decent enough.
The music is also lacking with little that sticks in the mind. However, the game does have some nice sound effects in particular when using spells.
The best thing about Sabrina: A Twitch in Time is probably that Melissa Joan Hart and Nick Bakay voice their characters from the show. Although you’ll quickly tire of hearing the same lines of dialogue over and over again.
Hardcore fans of the show might get a kick out of this but even they will be hard-pressed to find too much to praise here. The visual quality of the game can be ignored, what can’t be is just how infuriating it is to play. It really does have one of the worst cameras ever.
You never know though, what with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina proving to be a success maybe we’ll get a good game based off that!
Sabrina: A Twitch in Time