Now many (by many I mean all of you) users should know what the Color Timer is, it's the light on an Ultraman's chest that signifies his energy levels/time limit before he has to leave Earth or return to human form. Now there have been times when the Color timer was a good thing, but personally I have come to find it to be annoying. Here are my reasons why and when I think it has been a good thing.
Reasons why it becomes annoying
Many Ultra series have been notorious for this, the time limit for an Ultra in many shows is three minutes, go and watch fight clips of the Ultraman battles on Youtube or a similar website, check the time from when they first appear to when they leave or their timer turns red. More often than naught, its inconsistant and in some cases said Ultras have gone over their time limit.
An easy excuse
Often times the Color Timer and its limit is just an excuse to cut corners, either in terms of story telling or the budget. Often times it is the reason why Ultra battles are short with the battles being for too predictable. It usually goes like this, Ultra appears, gets a few good shots, the tables are turned on him, color timer goes of, deus ex machina or some other contrivance gives him a chance to fire his beam, flies of. It makes battles formulaic, and is also a reason why the film makers make the battles short.
Like my previous point, the Color Timer is often used as an excuse for cheap drama, with the Ultra's time limit often being brought up to create a sense of urgency. One problem with that, most Ultras don't fight as if it's a problem. Honestly, this is one of the most brought up complaints by critics of the series. Think about it this way, if you were underwater fighting some sea creature and you could only hold your breath for three minutes (some people can actually do that) would you just stand there trading blows or would your try your best to finish the fight quickly. Granted I know Ultras are supposed to be pacing themselves but look at Ultraman, when he fought he had great strength, he is actually confirmed to stronger than Ultraseven. Ultraseven X is stated to be Ultraseven but now as strong as Ultraman. He could afford to waste time and when he knew he couldn't he surely didn't. Another example was Ultraman Hikari when he had just shed his Tsurugi persona. The Color Timer just seems to be there to make monsters stronger than they seem, it is my belief that Ultra Galaxy Legend simply showed how strong the Ultras really were when they didn't have to pace themselves because of Earth's atmosphere.
Times when it works
Now there are times when the Color Timer actually works, for example, battle damage, we don't see the injuries of an Ultra so the Color Timer actually makes sense when it comes to reminding the audience of the heroes injuries. A good example of this is Ultraman Nexus, although Ultraseven did it first. When the heroes injuries were pilling up, when there was no time limit just actual injuries, so we could accept that the battles were being drawn out
Sense of Urgency
The Color Timer has been used correctly to give a sense of urgency to battles. In Ultraman Tiga, it was used rather well since Tiga time limit has never been fuly established, it is said to be three minutes but it was never confirmed if Ultras are bound by that, Evil Tiga lasted longer than that, and Tsubusa barely made one minute. As Tiga Dark Daigo fought for much longer than three minutes. Also it was said that Daigo's longer time limit than his son's is because his son's 'Light of Will' was not great enough. It also used well in the previous point, where battle damage has been made clear.
Climatic Battles and Situations
The real issue with the color timer isn't that it's a broken concept, it isn't, it's just not that simple to pull of, I sit here and type that it works best without the time limit, but the real purpose of the Color Timer, at least to my own point of view, is so Ultraman can be as powerful as the writer likes and still not have him overpowered. In Ultra Galaxy Legend, the movie when Color Timers or beam lamps went of, it actually felt like the Ultras were in trouble. For example, when Belial gave Zoffy a flying kick to his stomach, from the side of the plasma tower to the pavement, that clearly hurt and his color timer went of. That illustrated how much that attack hurt when that would have otherwise been left to our imagination.
The best example of this was Ultraman Mebius and Ultra Brothers, when the Ultra brothers could not fight properly since their energy was been directed to keeping Yapool sealed away.
In short, the Color Timer has become something of a contrivence in later years but it can be used properly as an adequate story telling device. Without it is premise how would we know how much energy the heroes has left or if they are working with. When used properly it is a welcomed and apreciated plot device, but it can be so easily be abused for the sake of an easy story/ conclusion/ drama.