Time Fighter (CRL) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


Time Fighter
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #37

Time Fighter

In Time Fighter, the player becomes a trans-temporal mercenary and attempts to defeat eight troubled time zones populated by hostile opponents.

The action begins in the prehistoric period and develops through the Middle Ages, the Wild West, the Prohibition era, World War II and 1980s New York before culminating in the space age. Each landscape scrolls from left to right and survival to the end of the level sees the action flick to the next scenario.

Gangs of vicious adversaries shoot bullets, throw grenades or simply punch the time traveller, and contact with other creatures is similarly detrimental. The time fighter runs left or right, jumps/kicks, ducks and uses the currently held weapon. If no weapon is held, the character punches or kicks in the direction he is facing.

The player begins with three lives, which are lost by depletion of energy from contact with adversaries or missiles. The information panel thus details the status of the time traveller, his current score and the high score. In addition, seven weapon icons are shown, the appropriate one highlighted according to the scenario.


The only positive feature about Time Fighter is the fluid animation of the sprites, but even this is marred by sluggish movement, bland colouring and lack of detail.

The sound is pathetic: no title music and puny spot effects evoke nothing but annoyance. The background graphics scroll jerkily and vary from awful and colourless to reasonable but blocky.

Remove the animation and a dire, repetitive and stupidly difficult game remains. The difficulty arises from the hopeless slowness with which the time traveller responds to joystick actions, and the lack of positions available.

On some levels you can duck away from weapons, but on most the clumsy response time and inability to jump high enough leads to certain death.

Couple this with poor collision detection, insubstantial presentation and a couple of annoying bugs and you have a program whose completely inadequate design conspires against you. Leave it well alone.


The splendid sprite animation leads one to believe that there's good things to come, but unfortunately hopes are soon dashed. The objective is to guide the Time Fighter across a series of horizontally wobbling backdrops and avoid the attentions of other sprites.

This amazingly simple idea is made even more unattractive by the highly unresponsive control method and the fact that the Time Fighter is often put into situations which are impossible to escape from without losing a life.

After a couple of sessions, the complete lack of reward and irksome gameplay soon destroy any desire to continue playing. Add this fact to the awful backgrounds and retarded sound effects, and you end up with repulsive and tacky little program of no merit whatsoever.


CRL's capacity for producing average software never ceases to amaze me. Just when you think they've got their act together, they bring out another heap of drivel - this time it's Time Fighter. Initial hopes are heightened by the quality of the animation on the hi-res monochrome sprites. The Time Fighter of the title moves around in a fashion comparable to the agent from Impossible Mission, but there the similarity ends.

Control of the character is awful; the lengthy delay between command and corresponding action on-screen is so annoying!

The lack of ability to avoid oncoming enemies is also very frustrating. The scrolling is jerky and the graphics, although clear, are uncluttered by interesting detail.

The lack of variety does nothing to increase one's enjoyment and after only a few plays, this 'game' proves to be nothing of the sort, having no entertainment value whatsoever.


Presentation 19%
Insufficient instructions, fiddly and slow control method and unattractive screen display.

Graphics 32%
Smoothly animated sprites marred by jerky, poorly coloured and drab backdrops.

Sound 6%
No title music and apologetic in-game effects.

Hookability 19%
The difficulty level is set too high, and the gameplay is too unrewarding to be addictive.

Lastability 9%
Few landscapes to explore, and the action is hopelessly repetitive and tedious.

Overall 12%
An interesting idea ruined by its terrible aural and visual implementation.