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This 1982 Konami game from the golden era of arcade games is possibly one of my favorite games of all time for just some quick game play and nostalgia. Playing this game is also one of my earliest memories. There are several versions of this game from a Colecovision port to an Xbox live digital download with enhanced graphics but otherwise identical game play. For this article though I’m only going to refer to the original arcade version as this is the version I am most personally attached to. One of my early memories is going to a diner? bar? pool hall? I don’t exactly remember but back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s almost every place had an Arcade machine. even grocery stores and pizza parlors. anyways I remember going into one of these places with my dad and seeing this machine in all its upright arcade cabinet glory. He gave me a few quarters and I immediately went over to Time Pilot. I didn’t have many quarters and I wasn’t very skilled so I didn’t last long but I simply loved this game. Maybe the aerial time jumping appealed to the military historian inside me or maybe it was the simple but fun lateral and vertical game play but I really liked this game. It was played from a side view yet it allowed you to scroll endlessly in any direction which was kind of novel since many shooters were either vertical or horizontal scrollers. Basically the point of the game is your a modern fighter jet and for whatever reason your jumping through various time periods in aviation history and destroying a number of airplanes of that era until you come to a Boss aircraft, defeat it and you jump to the next more advanced and thus difficult era. There are also parachute guys that you can grab for points, remember when points mattered? The game only has five era’s but they are varied and interesting. Years later on visiting the arcade at a local amusement park me and my best friend spent a lot of time on this game, though its meant for one player at a time we would designate one of us to fire the gun and one controlling movement. Our system kind of worked and I remember having a lot of fun and spending a lot of time on the game.

The first era you begin the game in is 1910 where you face biplanes that occasionally fire bullets at you as well as lob bombs


The boss of this era is a blimp. All the bosses essentially operate the same as they fly across the screen and randomly fire bullets at you, never deviating. The general tactic is to line up behind them and fire away.


The second era is 1940 and here you face two types of standard enemy’s, a typical WWII mono fighter plane that fires bullets and larger bombers that fly across like mini bosses and fire at you. I get the impression these planes are more plentiful, fire more often and are slightly faster then the 1910 era but I have to say those random bomb lobs for the previous era sometimes surprised me.


The boss of this era is a larger bomber. according to Wikipedia its a B-25 Mitchell….so apparently your attacking the Americans or Canadians in this era… well as the B-25 being an extremely early version or a prototype since the B-25’s first flight was 1940 and did not enter service until 1941…but i ridiculously and nerdily digress. Time Pilot is not a game based on absolute historical accuracy.


The third era is 1970 where you are confronted by helicopters this time. They fly around firing bullets at you but as a twist they also fire off guided missiles that attempt to follow you but luckily their not very hard to avoid and they can be shot down.


The boss of this era is a large tandem rotor helicopter that can really only be a CH-47 Chinook. Its a big helicopter so it makes as a good boss though in actual use the Ch-47 is a utility helicopter and its usually unarmed…its also another NATO/JDF aircraft. I’m starting to think the time pilot is actually a Soviet tossed about through time as the side effect of a failed 1980’s communist time machine experiment. So hes just randomly dropping in on these eras and blindly attacking the Americans with his future jet. Also he apparently missed the history lesson on WWI and II. Though the players jet on the promotional art looks like an American F-4 Phantom II.


The forth era places you in 1982 OR 1983 if your playing the Centuri distributed USA release. Here you face jets just like your own which are fast and fire bullets and more homing missiles at you.


The big boss of this stage is just a large jet bomber that acts just like the other bosses. Wikipedia claims that this is a B-52 (again an American plane) but really it could be anything. I mean to me it kind of looks like a really big WWII nazi ME-63 Komet rocket fighter.


The final era takes us to the distant future of 2001. What was it with the year 2000 that everyone thought we would either be dead or suddenly horribly technologically advanced. Remember when Gateway was called Gateway 2000 because it sounded futuristic? Those were awesome PC’s though. Anyways this era takes place in deep space with an asteroid field in the background and your facing stereotypical flying saucer UFO’s. They fire two kinds of energy bullets at you but really its just bullets and missiles with a fancy look to them.


The boss of this era is a large mothership UFO that seems to take quite a few shots before exploding. I’m guessing all these flying saucers are piloted by Americans or capitalist aliens.


In typical fashion for the era upon defeating the mothership the game loops you back to the starting era and everything is a little harder and so on and so on. I just really love Time Pilot or as I’m starting to think of it “Time Pilot: Red Scare!”. I always find myself coming back to it through the years. It was a success in its day and I think it holds up as a fun as well as timeless game. There was a sequel of sorts, Time Pilot ’84 but this game is nothing like the original. It sort of has time jumping but I dont even recall if its on earth as all the stages are samey looking future places. Its just overall a mediocre game in my opinion. As I said there have been recent updates to the game and even spiritual successors (Time Ace, Nintendo DS) but I would love to see a true sequel with more eras and detailed enemies.


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