At the third stroke

Quest for the Time Bird logo

SITTING in his little but all alone on the outskirts of civilisation, Bragon waits. Retired hero and inspiration for hundreds of drinking songs, he keeps his battle axe well polished in preparation for what he is sure his future holds - a comeback quest.
No hero worth his battle harness is ever allowed to sit back and draw his pension. There's always some untold horror waiting to sweep over the land, some wrong to be righted, some...

Hang on - was that a knock at the door? Ah, it's Roxanna, illegitimate daughter of Mara the witch and who knows who else. Here comes the spiel. What's that? Evil empires, hopeless quests, terrible danger...? Say no more.
Pausing only to collect his axe and leave a note for the milkman, Bragon is on his way.

Quest for the Time-Bird is based on the French graphic novel of the same name, which has been mildly popular probably because of the over-exaggerated features of Roxanna.
The adventure is constructed in the style of a graphical multiple choice type game. Decisions are made by clicking the mouse pointer on a relevant part of the screen. This controls the direction in which the party will move and also their interaction with the environment and enyone they should meet.

The cursor will change shape on a graphic window to indicate a direction in which you can travel. Pressing the left mouse button at any time on the large map page will produce a small box containing graphics of everyone currently in your party. Selecting one of these images will bring up a strip of icons of the different actions that the character can perform.

The actions are the usual and fairly straightforward ones - Eat, Talk, Kill and so on - except for Charm. This can be used to worm your way into the affections of someone in order to get their help - a particularly dangerous weapon when used by Roxanna, who has a lethal pout.

Annoyingly, you are only allowed to have one saved game per disc, hardly enough to explore the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in an adventure such as this where each turn can lead the dusty way to death.

As you might expect from the French, the graphics are superb. Not only are they very detailed and pleasing to look at, but they are displayed with imagination and variety, appearing in different shaped boxes in different areas of the screen. It shows the thought that went into the layout. It has actually interested me sufficiently to look out for the book.

While animated sequences appear to break up the journeys, the most impressive of which is when the party is on foot and the foreground scrolls past the bottom of the screen.
Sounds and effects are both well-crafted. Each of the seven Kingdoms has its own background track, designed to enhance the atmosphere of the current location. They tend to get a bit repetitive and brain destroying after a while but then so does life.

The plot is a little thin, and solving the puzzles is about half-and-half intuition versus persistence. No incredible vulpine feats of cunning are needed to solve The Quest, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Overall, a well designed game which will probably appeal more to the casual adventurer than the hardened one.

Quest for the Time Bird logo

Infogrames £29.95 * Mouse, Joystick or Keyboard

So, you've got to find a Time Bird, huh? Not just any old avian, the Time Bird is able to slow time and speed it up. The reason why you have to find it is the time limit is a little on the tight side. Roxamma, daughter of the witch Mara, has to keep the god Ramor inside his conch-shell prison. Otherwise, in nine days time, the world Akbar goes down the tubes.

Roxanna is a spell caster, and is sure that she will succeed, if she can find the ingredients for a mighty incantation. The game starts at the home of Bragon the Knight, a retired hero who you can recruit to your cause. It's a good idea, because his axe the Reaper can deal with some of the nastier inhabitants of Akbar.

There are two other possible recruits to the cause: Bulrog and the Unknown Knight. Each character has their own particular talents, and using the right person for the job is the key to success.

Travelling around Akbar is a doddle. A very pretty map screen is drawn, and a withered old gent (known as the narrator) moves a stick around various locations. Point to your destination, click on the mouse button, and off you go!

The lands of Akbar are known as the Marches. Each one has its own flavour, from the domain of the Snufflers to the March of a Thousand Greens. This latter place is not populated by brussel sprouts, but is in fact a forest.

Playing the game is a veritable feast on the old peepers. Each location has a background picture. Moving the mouse over these will reveal that some of the places are worth visiting (the pointer changes shape, from Rosanna's pet Furry to four outward arrows). Clicking on these locations will reveal a new place; perhaps a path through some caves, or some people to talk to in a crowded market.

Pressing the left mouse button will overlay a picture of your characters on the scene. Another button press on the relevant character will allow them to converse, charm or charge the person or place of your choice. You can also make the characters eat: you did get Bragon to bring a packed lunch along, didn't you?

There are lots of different places and people to visit. Sometimes a text box giving a narration will come up, and occasionally this includes a multiple choice response from you. The choice you make decides your future course in the game...


The scenes and people of Akbar are captured very well, with some delicate pastel shading. Some water colour specialist has done very well on the Amiga, spending effort getting everything right. If you get a mount, you're also treated to a scrolling view of the map in the background. All in all, very pretty indeed. As for the sound, a continuous tune plays gently at the background, replaced with more appropriate background noise when you go to a specific location. The sound gives that extra storyteller touch which makes Time Bird special.


There are similar interactive fiction game available, but what Time Bird has is subtlety. It feels like a story is being read to you, and everything you do has some effect and influence on events.

Using a mouse is too fiddly, and I pity the people who prefer joysticks. Finding all the places to go takes time: why couldn't they have been more obvious? Time Bird won't keep you engrossed for months, but it's a quality Amiga game.