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Time Bandit

See Also
Buy on Amiga
Buy on DOS

Description official descriptions

Time Bandit is a Gauntlet-style arcade game with text adventure elements.

Having nothing to do with the Terry Gilliam movie Time Bandits, this game utilises the time-travel theme for a fast-paced preview of the concept getting famous with Gauntlet two years later. Your bandit visits 16 different worlds throughout time to grab as much loot as possible and, in the long run, do some universe-saving stuff as well.

Each of the 16 locations -- featuring such varied places like a medieval arena, a bomb factory, a wrecked spaceship and a ghost town -- is basically a labyrinth filled with treasure and -- you guessed it -- monsters. You've got to dodge these or blast them with your weapon, while collecting keys, opening doors and searching for the exit. Although theoretically each location consists of 16 sub-levels, these are merely the basic layout flipped or mirrored, some items redistributed and the monster speed increased. After completing a level, you return to the world map, where you may freely choose the next challenge (nice) and save your game (very nice).

Interestingly, Time Bandit tries to spice up the fast arcade action with text adventure scenes. Due to this strange mixture, you will occasionally bump into persons or computer consoles with which interaction is possible. For example, you've got to explore and repair the damaged spaceship Excalibur. However, the parser is crude at best; you'll have to know exactly what to do, or else you will trigger no reaction.

Gaming veterans will discover a score of elements of and allusions to arcade classics, such as Tutankham, Pac-Man, Centipede, Bomberman, and others.

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Credits (TRS-80 CoCo version)



Average score: 76% (based on 12 ratings)


Average score: 3.1 out of 5 (based on 19 ratings with 2 reviews)

Still has some things to work out

The Good
The game is unique. I've never seen anything else like it. I am sure that without the bugs, this game would be a timeless classic. Right up there with S.T.U.N. Runner. I played this game as a child and it is still one of my favorites.

The Bad
The gameplay sucks, the bad guys are invincible and move way too fast. This is mostly due to some bugs, I think.

The Bottom Line
Your character may choose from a variety of different areas to loot from. Some are futuristic, and some are ancient and cryptic. It's sort of labyrinth-like and has monsters and all that good stuff, some of which are invincible to your phaser. The bugs cause just about all of the monsters to be invincible, however, which makes the game much harder than it should be. Hopefully once these bugs are fixed, the game will be as enjoyable as it was when playing it on the Atari ST.

DOS · by Matt Stamas (1) · 2003

Killer smurfs, squelching. So good it went 16 bit.

The Good
This game represented the beginning of a glorious time in the 6809 machine world. Released just after another smash Trs-80 convert "Cashman", this was one of those high profile Microdeal games that signified that they were no longer interested in converting any old 8 or 16 k TRS-80 co co game. No semi graphics, no mediocre text adventures. They actually wanted the good stuff with graphics that if not quite matching those on the C64 or Spectrum were at least in the same league. The graphics are a decent example of what the 6809 machines were capable of achieving, and the sound had a lovely new effect I have not seen on any game previous- a sort of satisfying squelching that made a big change from the usual explosions and much better than that available on many contemporary machines. Game wise it is a very big enterprise by any standards. Although many of the screens are just inverted versions of others, it is still pretty huge even when you take this into account. The 6809 machines were actually really good machine for squeezing value out of- a famous example of this is the version of Jet Set Willy for the Dragon 32 which was fifteen screens larger than the Spectrum version at 48k. Time Bandit was just a game that was massive by any 1980's standards. The gameplay is nearly perfect, and considering how frenetic the game is there is still a fair chunk of strategy is required. Unusually the game looks as good in the green mode as in the black and white mode (which is artifacted into colour on the US Dragons and Co-Co). The text adventure element was not on the 6809 versions, and the game really does not need it. The shame is many people abandoned the machine without getting as far as Time Bandit when Dragon Data went bust. Those that stayed found a game full of optimism for the future.

The Bad
When the power is low the flickering makes it near impossible to continue. Simply inverting the screen colour set would have been enough.

The Bottom Line
So good it got the 16 bit treatment a couple of years later. It did more than the people who designed the machine ever intended.

Dragon 32/64 · by drmarkb (105) · 2014



Developer Harry Lafnear couldn't stop himself from turning the game's background story into a poem in the manual. The following excerpt does (in my humble opinion) not only perfectly sum up the poet's talent, but also the whole plot and the entire significance of the game:

*Into all the confusion the Time Bandit goes.

Among the Guardians he finds only foes.

For he takes the treasures that they wish to own

And carries them off for reasons unknown.*



  • Zzap!
    • January 1990 (Issue 57) – 'The Best Games of the 80's Decade' (Stuart Wynne)

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by -Chris.

Amiga added by B.L. Stryker. TRS-80, Dragon 32/64 added by Kabushi. TRS-80 CoCo added by L. Curtis Boyle. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: FatherJack.

Game added October 1st, 2000. Last modified August 23rd, 2023.