North American arcade flyer.
Free-roaming flight combat
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players, alternating turns|
|Arcade system||2x Zilog Z80, 2x AY-3-8910|
|Display||19 inch, vertical orientation, raster, 224 x 256|
Time Pilot is a multi-directional scrolling shooter and free-roaming aerial combat arcade game designed by Yoshiki Okamoto, released by Konami in 1982, and distributed in the United States by Centuri. Debuting in the golden age of video arcade games, it is a time travel themed game that allowed the player's plane to freely move across open air space that can scroll indefinitely in all directions. The Killer List of Videogames included Time Pilot in its list of top 100 arcade games of all time.
The player assumes the role of a pilot of a futuristic fighter jet, trying to rescue fellow pilots trapped in different time eras. The player must fight off hordes of enemy craft and defeat the mother ship (or "boss") present in every level. The background moves in the opposite direction to the player's plane, rather than the other way around; the player's plane always remains in the center.
This game has the player travel through five time periods, rescuing stranded fellow pilots. The player must fight off droves of enemy craft while picking up parachuting friendly pilots. Once 56 enemy craft are defeated, initially 25 on the MSX platform and increasing by 5 after each game cycle (finishing the last battle against the UFOs), the player must defeat the mothership for the time period. Once she is destroyed, any remaining enemy craft are also eliminated and the player time-travels to the next level. All the levels have a blue sky and clouds as the background except the last level, which has space and asteroids instead. The specific eras visited, the common enemies, and the motherships are the following:
- 1910: biplanes and a blimp
- 1940: WWII monoplanes and a B-25
- 1970: helicopters and a large, blue CH-46
- 1982 (Konami version)/1983 (Centuri version): jets and a B-52
- 2001: UFOs
The mothership is destroyed with seven direct hits. Once all the eras have been visited, the levels start over again but are harder and faster. The Game Boy Advance version of Time Pilot in Konami Arcade Classics includes a hidden sixth era, 1,000,000 BC, where the player must destroy vicious pterodactyls in order to return to the early 20th century.
Levels and enemies
In the first four levels, the common enemies and motherships can fire yellow bullets that are similar to the white bullets fired by the player, except that they travel rather slowly.
In the 1910 level, the biplanes can fire bombs in addition to the yellow bullets. The bombs are fired initially upward but have acceleration in the downward direction, meaning that they will move faster as they fall to the bottom of the screen. This seems to be the work of gravity since the bombs follow the parabolic trajectory of a thrown object, despite the fact that the downward direction of the screen does not seem to point toward the "ground"—the player can fly downward indefinitely and not reach the "ground". This is the only time when "gravity" is present. However, the acceleration imparted on the bombs makes them quite potent as they pick up speed.
The 1940 planes lack the tin-can-resembling bombs of the 1910 biplanes. They are slimmer than the biplanes, though, and blend in with the background, making them tougher to target. In addition, in this level there will sometimes be red-and-yellow supply planes that fly horizontally across the screen. They require multiple hits to take down (much like the mothership) and reward the player 1500 points upon their destruction. They cannot fire at the player and pose no real threat, so long as the player does not crash into them.
The helicopters of 1970 are even smaller than the monoplanes. In addition to the common yellow bullets, they can also fire homing missiles. The missiles travel slightly faster than the player, but cannot make sharp turns very well. Once fired, the missiles (just like the biplane bombs) can be destroyed by the player's gun. This feat is hard to pull off, however, since the missiles usually end up behind the player. Avoiding the missiles is doable despite their speed, since the player can simply take frequent sharp turns to throw them off.
The jets in 1982 are larger, better versions of the helicopters. They are larger and more aggressive, making it easier for the player to run into them. Their preference of homing missiles over the standard yellow bullets is more pronounced than that of the helicopters, meaning that there will typically be more missiles trailing the player in 1982 than in 1970.
In 2001, the UFOs fire fast-traveling circular bullets that blend in with the background. The asteroids on screen will not hurt the player but will serve to camouflage the enemies and their missiles.
According to his account, Yoshiki Okamoto's proposal for Time Pilot was initially rejected by his boss at Konami, who assigned Okamoto to work on a driving game instead. Okamoto secretly gave instructions to his programmer to work on his idea, while pretending to be working on a driving game in front of his boss. When Time Pilot was a success, Okamoto's boss claimed credit for Okamoto's idea. The free-roaming style of gameplay used in Time Pilot was influenced by Namco's Bosconian.
This game was one of the more successful games of the era.
- It spawned one sequel in 1984, Time Pilot '84. Though a respectable game, it did not do nearly as well as the original.
- A special version named Time Pilot '95 also appears in the Super Famicom game Ganbare Goemon Kirakira Douchuu: Boku ga Dancer ni Natta Wake (of the Ganbare Goemon series), and can be unlocked when the main game is completely cleared.
- A version of the game for Xbox Live Arcade by Digital Eclipse features optional updated graphics, although the game plays identically (it is a port of the original).
- The emulated version was re-released in 2005 for PlayStation 2 in Japan as part of the Oretachi Geasen Zoku Sono-series.
- In 2011 a homebrew port of this game called Vector Pilot was released for the Vectrex console by Kristof Tuts.
The game was successfully licensed to both Atari and Centuri for regions outside of Japan. Centuri obtained the license for North America, whereas Atari produced dedicated cabinets with the game for sale in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
- Atari 2600, MSX and ColecoVision in 1983
- PlayStation as part of the Konami Arcade Classics compilation in 1999
- Game Boy Advance as part of the Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced compilation on March 18, 2002.
- Xbox 360 as part of Xbox Live Arcade on August 30, 2006.
- Nintendo DS as part of Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits.
- Mobile Phones: Released for i-mode mobile phones in Japan in 2004.
- Microsoft's Game Room service for its Xbox 360 console and for Windows-based PCs in May 2010.
- Time Pilot at the Arcade History database
- Time Pilot at the Killer List of Videogames
- Time Pilot at Allgame
- "Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits - NDS - Review". GameZone. April 9, 2007. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
- "Konami Arcade Classics: Well, at least it's classic". IGN. January 7, 2000. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
- Greg McLemore and the KLOV team. "The Top Coin-Operated Videogames of all Times". Killer List of Videogames. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- Kent, Steven. "VideoGameSpot's Interview with Yoshiki Okamoto". Archived from the original on December 7, 1998.
- Vector Pilot
- "GBA Gems: Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced". IGN. IGN. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2006-09-01.
- "Time Pilot Flies Onto Xbox Live Marketplace". TeamXbox. IGN. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2006-09-01.