Arcade Mania – Time Pilot (1982)

Time Pilot

Such a polite title screen. How could anyone say no to something like that?

Konami’s Time Pilot is a pretty basic shooting game where you fly a little ship around and shoot enemies, and that’s really about it. The hook is that each of the five levels in the game takes place in a different time period. Otherwise, you’re only real goal in the game is to get a high score, much like every other arcade game from 1982. Not that that’s a bad thing.

The mechanics of the game are fairly unique, however. Your ship stays stationary in the middle of the screen, and everything else scrolls around you. The design was inspired by Namco’s Bosconian, but unlike that game, your ship swivels as it turns, so despite only having an eight-way joystick, you can spread your fire in nearly 360 degrees. It’s also much simpler than Bosconian, since there are no bases to destroy, just other flying objects.

Time Pilot
The sky goes on forever in Time Pilot.

The five time periods span from 1910 where you fight WWI biplanes, all the way to the future of 2001 where you fend off the UFO invasion. (Although I don’t seem to remember that happening. I must have been too busy playing Dreamcast.) The goal of each level is simply to shoot enough enemies until the “boss” appears, and once you beat the boss, the level ends. As you progress, the enemies become more aggressive and start firing homing missiles. After beating the final level, they simply repeat, except that they’re harder.

Time Pilot was designed by Yoshiki Okamoto, who later worked at Capcom on such games as Final Fight and Street Fighter II. He left Capcom in 2003 to form his own independent studio, Game Republic. That studio reportedly shut down in June 2011, and it’s currently unknown what has happened to Okamoto.

I remember playing Time Pilot at a small arcade in a grocery store back in the mid 80s. (Remember when arcade games were everywhere?) I wasn’t very good at it then, and I’m only slightly better at it now. But I think it holds up pretty well. There was also a sequel called Time Pilot ’84, which I think I also played a little bit of, but I didn’t see it as much. It was at a different grocery store.

Time Pilot can be found in various Konami compilations on various systems, including the original PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS. It’s also available for download on Xbox Live Arcade. If you enjoy classic arcade shoot-em-ups where you play for score, then please deposit coin and try this game.

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