Time Bandit

written by Matthew Reed

Title:Time Bandit
Author:Bill Dunlevy and Harry Lafnear
Publisher:Computer Shack
Compatibility:Model I and III, disk and tape
Time Bandit loading screen

Time Bandit loading screen

Time Bandit, written by Bill Dunlevy and Harry Lafnear, was a TRS-80 Model I/III game first released by Computer Shack in 1983. Computer Shack (which changed its name to Michtron in 1984) also released versions of Time Bandit for a number of other computers:

  • the TRS-80 Color Computer (also released in 1983)
  • the Sanyo MBC-550 (released in 1984)
  • the Atari ST (released in 1986)
  • the Amiga (released in 1988)
  • the IBM PC (released in 1988)

The Atari ST and Amiga versions in particular remain quite highly regarded today.

Other than the color graphics, the TRS-80 Color Computer version is largely the same as the TRS-80 Model I/III original. But the later versions have extra worlds and other features. For example, the two-player mode, the time log, the text adventures, and the ability to save the game were all added after the TRS-80 version.

When the Atari ST and Amiga versions of Time Bandit became popular, many people assumed that the game was based on the arcade game Gauntlet, released by Atari in 1985. This was obviously impossible because the TRS-80 version predated it by two years. According to co-author Harry Lafnear, Time Bandit was actually inspired by the arcade game Tutankham which was released by Stern in 1982.

Time Bandit title screen

Title screen

The goal in Time Bandit remains roughly the same across all versions. You are the “Time Bandit” who is seeking treasure across different worlds in different time periods. You need to collect the treasure (represented by +*+ in the Model I/III version) and find keys (represented by +-8 to unlock locks (represented by <O>. Once all the locks are opened, you can leave through the exit (represented by OUT).

Additional obstacles include the monsters guarding the treasure and one-way corridors which require a different path to return. Being hit or shot by a monster depletes your power, and there is a limited amount of time to complete each world.

There are three different worlds in the TRS-80 versions of Time Bandit: Western World, Space World, and Fantasy World. Each world exists in a different time period and the graphics are designed to match that motif. Within each world, there are seven portals that provide access to different locations.

Each portal can be entered multiple times, but the layout within changes every time. Every four times through, the number of locks in the layout increases. Completing a portal sixteen times closes it and generates a secret message.

TRS-80 Model I/III version of Time Bandit

Dead Man’s Pass in the Model I/III version

TRS-80 Color Computer version of Time Bandit

Dead Man’s Pass in the Color Computer version

The TRS-80 Model I/III and the TRS-80 Color Computer versions share an almost identical map, with three worlds and seven portals per world. Both versions also share the same names for the portals:

Light Barriers in Time Bandit

Light Barriers in Space World

Space World

  • Enterprise
  • Escape to Moonbase
  • Starship Omega
  • Gamma Station
  • Light Barriers
  • The Insidious Grid
  • Hyperspace
Lost Maverick Mine in Time Bandit

Lost Maverick Mine in Western World

Western World

  • Newriver Crossing
  • Dead Man’s Pass
  • Outlaw Alley
  • Lost Maverick Mine
  • Tombstone Jail
  • Dodge City Bank
  • Death Valley
Black Dungeon in Time Bandit

Black Dungeon in Fantasy World

Fantasy World

  • Castle Greymoon
  • Chaos Caverns
  • Black Dungeon
  • Forgotten Ruins
  • Underworld Arena
  • Mystic Maze
  • Halls of Doom

The later versions for non-TRS-80 computers had more worlds with different names.

Although the Atari ST and Amiga versions of Time Bandit are the most famous, the TRS-80 versions are very enjoyable games.

Categories: Arcade Games


Bill Loguidice says:

Very cool. I have the Atari ST version of this, but I was never aware there was a TRS-80 predecessor. I’ll have to check it out (I may even have a copy in my collection and just not been aware of it). I’m also impressed by how similar the screen layouts are in the TRS-80 and CoCo versions. There are very few cases where ported TRS-80 games are instantly recognizable like that.

Mark McDougall says:

One of my favourite TRS-80 Model I/III games. I was very impressed at the time.

Bill Dunlevy says:

Thanks for the gracious comments and posting the information one of my favorite creations!

Kirk Finkbeiner says:

I love my old games but no longer have coco 3. I am looking at buying one for old time sakes and was wondering how I can buy your old games Time Bandit and Cashman. I loved thise games

Eric Fulmer says:

To Bill Dunlevy & Harry Lafnear– Time Bandit was the greatest arcade-style game I ever played, and I played a lot of games. The Atari ST version was a marvel, and even after hundreds (thousands?) of hours of play, I never finished it. But that only made it more fun!

Someone has posted the completion of Excalibur and the end of the game on YouTube for those who are interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDYtMpLZ7XU

Chris G says:

Loved “The Insidious Grid” level. This game was great stuff on my TRS-80 CoCo back in the mid 1980s. Two other games I loved was Worlds of Flight, and Donkey King.