Time Bandit

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Time Bandit cover art.jpg
Developer(s)Bill Dunlevy and Harry Lafnear
Designer(s)Bill Dunlevy
Harry Lafnear
Timothy Purves
Platform(s)TRS-80 Model I (original)
TRS-80 Color Computer, Dragon 32, Atari ST, Amiga, MS-DOS
Atari ST:
Mode(s)Single player

Time Bandit is an action-adventure game written for the TRS-80 Model I by Bill Dunlevy and Harry Lafnear and published by MichTron in 1983.[1] It was ported to the TRS-80 Color Computer and Dragon 32, but enjoyed its greatest popularity several years later as an early release for the Atari ST. It was also released for the pseudo-PC-compatible Sanyo MBC-55x with its unique 8-color display. Amiga and MS-DOS versions were ported by Timothy Purves.


In each overhead-view level, the player must gather keys to open locks which allow access to the exit. Between levels, the player chooses the next level from one of 16 different "Timegates," each leading to a different world, and each of which must be completed sixteen times, each time being progressively more difficult than the last. The worlds vary in character and difficulty. Some worlds incorporate elements of text adventure games, and most contain gameplay references to other popular games of the time, such as Pac-Man and Centipede. In addition to the primary objective of exiting each level, optional side quests become available in the later stages of some worlds, usually awarding the player with one of several "artifacts" upon completion.

The game also features a "Duel Mode" for two players.[2] In this mode, a split screen is used for simultaneous play in the same worlds, allowing direct cooperation or combat between players.


  1. Shadowland
  2. Major Hazard
  3. Gridville
  4. Omega Complex
  5. Bomb Factory
  6. Ghost Town
  7. Hotel California
  8. Castle Greymoon
  9. King's Crown
  10. Underworld Arena
  11. Darkside Dare
  12. Excalibur
  13. Welkin Island
  14. Sentinel
  15. Cheops' Curse
  16. Guardian


According to Harry Lafnear, Time Bandit was based on the 1982 arcade game Tutankham and was originally called Pharaoh.[3] The Atari ST and Amiga versions have visual similarities to Gauntlet,[1] but Gauntlet was released in late 1985 after development of Time Bandit was complete.[3]


Lafnear estimates that 75,000 copies were sold, mostly for the Atari ST.[3]

Jerry Pournelle of BYTE named Time Bandit his game of the month for September 1986, stating that the ST version "is the best arcade-type computer game I have ever seen".[4] The game was well received by reviewers in Antic,[2] COMPUTE!,[5] and BYTE[6] for its gameplay and graphics, though reviews also noted that the game includes no music and has minimal sound effects.

The Amiga version of the game was reviewed in 1990 in Dragon #158 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4½ out of 5 stars.[7]

Clue Book[edit]

The Timelord's Handbook, a clue book and companion manual for the game, was released in March 2010 by Harry Lafnear, one of the original authors of the game. In addition to game clues, the book includes background fiction and profiles on the game's history and creators.


  1. ^ a b Boyle, L. Curtis. "Time Bandit". Tandy (TRS-80) Color Computer Games.
  2. ^ a b Gil Merciez (October 1986). "ST Product News: Time Bandit". Antic. 5 (6): 67.
  3. ^ a b c "Harry Lafnear Interview". Atari Legend. September 5, 2003.
  4. ^ Pournelle, Jerry (September 1986). "A Busy Day". BYTE. p. 321.
  5. ^ Bateman, Selby (October 1986). "A Great Year For Games". Compute!. p. 18. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  6. ^ Webster, Bruce (December 1986). "Season's Greetings". BYTE. p. 305. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  7. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (June 1990). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (158): 47–54.

External links[edit]