Time Bandit

Publisher: Microdeal
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #36

Zzap Sizzler

Time Bandit

Microdeal's compulsive and extensive Gauntlet variant

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.

Time Bandit

The main four-way scrolling landscape contains sixteen 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 sixteen 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.


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.

Time Bandit

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.

Time Bandit

Not sufficiently lamentable to stop me recommending what is a great game, though.


Time Bandit is one of my all-time favourite 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 expresions change when they're splattered! There's plenty of variety in the gameplay, with a (somewhat tricky) mini text adventure to solve, a plethora of puzzles to overcome, a brilliant PacMan game and plenty of enemy sprites to blast into oblivion.

Time Bandit

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 Colliseum, attempting to communicate with a spaceship computer and even trying to obtain a sheep from a humble shepherd!

There are sixteen different screens, and each one has to be entered and solved sixteen 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.

Time Bandit

The gameplay is very challenging ideed, 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.


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 heads 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 with some furious blasting action over sixteen 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 bariety, masses of colour and evocative detail.

The sound, however, is a bit of a let-down: 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.


Presentation 89%
Comprehensive instructions. Good two-player option and a superb high-score table which automatically saves to disk, complete with status.

Graphics 78%
Clearly drawn, very colourful and detailed. The sprites are small, but very nicely designed and animated.

Sound 18%
Varied but feeble effects which detract from the atmosphere.

Hookability 93%
An easy game to start playing, with full freedom of movement between and within landscapes.

Lastability 96%
A multitude of varied and exciting areas to explore, and the task grows ever more difficult.

Overall 92%
A first-class pot pourri of genres, with incredible depth and playability.