Telecomsoft’s “Rainbird” label was known for putting out a variety of high-quality releases aimed at more “mature” gamers: things like adventure games, strategy games and simulations.
A popular set of games released under this label were the illustrated text adventures composed by Magnetic Scrolls — a range of games with a distinctly British sense of humour about them, along with some excellent writing, some well-crafted “feelies” in the packaging and, as usual for the genre, plenty of crazy puzzles to figure out.
One such example is Jinxter, a game which challenges you to deal with the fact the world is suffering a bit of a spate of… wossname… bad luck.
“Sam, you’re a dead man.” And how; Activision’s Borrowed Time, an “illustrated text adventure” from 1985, really, really, really wants you dead.
An early game from Interplay with involvement from Brian “Wasteland” Fargo, Borrowed Time is an early attempt to break out of the pure text format of adventure games with a graphical, mouse-driven interface. It’s not quite a full-on point and click adventure just yet, but it’s a first step in that direction.
It’s also a monstrously difficult game, fond of murdering its protagonist at regular intervals right from the very outset. You’re doing well if you manage to survive just leaving your office for the day…
I love it when game developers get creative. This is not an altogether unusual sight these days, of course, but back in the early to mid ’80s, it was always a real treat to see someone step outside of genre “norms”.
Such was the case with Time Bandit by Bill Dunlevy and Harry Lafnear, a top-down action adventure with elements of text adventures, role-playing games, Pac-Man and all manner of other goodness. While superficially resembling Gauntlet — which actually came out after Time Bandit was fully developed — there’s a hell of a lot of depth here, and some fiendish puzzles to unravel.
If you want a game that pretty much sums up what the Atari ST gaming experience is all about, you can do far worse than give Time Bandit the, uh, time of day.