Time Bandit logo


When this game was first released for the ST - and you must remember that it was one of the first games available for that machine - it seemed to have everything a games devotee could have dreamed for. Excellent graphics, good sound effects, an enormous playing area, and a resemblance to Gauntlet, the game of the time.

Time Bandit was even acclaimed as 'The best game ever' by one American computer mag. I too, was impressed when I received the ST version. Nearly two years later, however, I find it more difficult to summon up such enthusiasm for the Amiga version. Microdeal have compacted the storyline into one and a half small pages. The aim of the game is to travel around time, entering and exiting castles, and despatching villains along the way.

The basic concept of the game owes a great deal to Gauntlet but unlike Garrison, Time Bandit does not aim to mimic; rather it takes the ideas of simultaneous play and walking around mazes collecting jewels and expands them. Instead of one maze leading to another, Time Bandit allows the player to choose which maze to enter, and the contents of that maze can range from standard Gauntlet screens, to Pac-man games, right through to invisible barriers.

As with Garrison, only two players can actually play the game simultaneously - a limitation originally set on the ST and unfortunately not changed on the Amiga version. But the biggest difference between Time Bandit and most Gauntlet clones is that you play on separate parts of the screen, and only see each other on your own screen when you pass each other within the maze. Another difference is that when one player finished the maze the other does automatically.

The graphics are, as we have come to expect from most ST-Amiga conversions, almost identical to the ST version. That said, they are still colourful and do the game justice. The sound effects and animation, however, are not good at all. Apart from the odd bang and splat there is a noticeable absence of any good sound effect, and the animation is actually worse than the original.

These criticisms apart, Time Bandit is essentially a good game. People who have not played the original and who like the idea of a true arcade adventure (and by that I mean a game that contains elements of arcade games, adventure games, and anything in between) will find Time Bandit an enjoyable and refreshing change from the plethora of shoot 'em ups that seem to be available at the moment. Mind you there is always Garrison.

Microdeal's compulsive and extensive Gauntlet variant

Time Bandit logo Zzap! Sizzler

Microdeal, £19.95 disk, joystick with keys

Microdeal's chronological adventure casts the player in the role of a time traveller, seeking out fame and fortune in real and mythical historical periods.

From the title screen, joystick or keyboard controls and one or two-player options are selected prior to commencing play. The screen display then alters according to the number of participants: a solo player's actions are displayed using all the available area, while two-player mode sees the screen divided horizontally, each player having their own viewing screen. The information panel remains the same, however, giving the number of cubits acquired, the life levels remaining (initially ten, decreasing on contact with monsters) and the status acquired (increased by shooting guardians). Additionally, the location name and difficulty level are displayed.

The main four-way scrolling landscape contains 16 graphic icons, contact with which reveal further landscapes in the form of mazes, which are completed by escaping their labyrinthine passageways. Each maze carries a different theme, from spaceship interiors to a PacMan-style network, and often feature a variety of aliens and items to be shot, avoided or used as necessary.

Each location has 16 levels of difficulty, and completing the last one causes that maze system to shut down. Completion of the entire landscape thus requires the completion of 256 such mazes, and the task is made harder every time a location is re-entered.

An adventure sequence during the main landscape allows interaction with various characters, taking a standard verb/noun or simple response format. Talking to characters is necessary to acquire hidden rewards or to solve puzzles that aid progress.

Gordon Houghton I wouldn't exactly call this 'the best game ever', but it's certainly one of the better ones to appear on the Amiga so far. To call it a basic Gauntlet format is almost an insult, because there's so much more involved. The variety is what really makes it special, with a wide range of bug-eyed monsters; metallic aliens and mysterious eyes... watch out for the look of surprise on the bouncing eyes when they're shot! Conversing with characters is brilliantly implemented, and gives a strong sense of interaction within the created scenario.
You can let go some furious blasting action over 16 levels in a multitude of locations, or you can indulge yourself in a simple PacMan variant. There are books, scrolls and signs to look at, puzzles to solve and enough creatures to satisfy any dungeon freak. This playability is more than complemented by the graphics: the backdrops are all beautifully drawn and very clear (as they should be), creating a total graphical effect of wide variety, masses of colour and evocative detail. The sound, however, is a bit of a letdown: it's crisp, but not very varied; all the effects are simple and only hinder the atmosphere. Overall, though, it's sensibly priced, varied, action-packed and extremely enjoyable: there's no excuse to miss it.
Julian Rignall Time Bandit is one of my all-time favorite games. It's basically a very souped-up Gauntlet clone, but has enormous depth. The graphics are quite unusual, with tiny, but nicely detailed and animated sprites and some great backgrounds. The little bouncing heads are particularly appealing - watch their expressions change when they're splattered! There's plenty of variety in the gameplay, with a (somewhat tricky) mini text adventure to solve, a plethore of puzzles to overcome, a brilliant PacMan game and plenty of enemy sprites to blast into oblivion.
All these genres are well implemented, and make for some very involved and interesting gaming. One minute you're rushing around a maze collecting dots and power pills and avoiding the marauding ghosts, the next you're battling gladiators and lions in the middle of a Roman Coliseum, attempting to communicate with a spaceship computer and even trying to obtain a sheep from a humble shepherd! There are 16 different screens, and each one has to entered and solved 16 times before it's 'closed' and an icon awarded.
Things start off easy, but as progress is made, the going gets very tough, with new areas opening up, increasingly hostile and faster aliens and new creatures being brought into the proceedings. Some levels require sub-tasks to be completed, including destroying a giant snake, finding objects and navigating a spaceship. I like the way the game can be played in any old fashion - you can try and solve one level, or tackle them in any order. The gameplay is very challenging indeed, and is rewarding enough to keep you coming back time and time again. Time Bandit is a classic, and shouldn't be missed at any cost.
Paul Glancey It may look like another Gauntlet clone, but Time Bandit takes the old theme and improves on it enormously by bringing in sixteen selectable scenarios, each with sixteen levels, and then making the game more interesting with some mini quests to be fulfilled. The essential two-player game is also much better for the presence of a small screen for each player, allowing independent exploration. Even so, the limited view makes it all the more important to work as a team, which is far more sociable and fun. What had me coming back for more, though, was the ability to play lots of clever variations on the same theme (I never thought I would see a Gauntlet style PacMan!), rather like having a compendium of arcade adventure games all linked together. Graphics throughout are respectable and the sound effects are adequate, though the absence of a good soundtrack is lamentable. Not sufficiently lamentable to stop me recommending what is a great game, though.