Retro Coin Op Synopsis
The movies have given us time-traveling motorcycles (Timerider), DeLoreans (Back to the Future), and even phone booths (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), but it was arcade manufacturer Konami who gave us the first era-hopping military jet, the star of 1982’s Time Pilot. Designed by Yoshiki Okamoto, who would go on to create Gyruss, Final Fight and the legendary Street Fighter II, Time Pilot sent a lone fighter against squadrons of aircraft from five different historical eras—past, present and future.
The game began in 1910 with a dogfight against pre-World War I biplanes. Once 56 of the enemy aircraft were downed, your jet faced that level’s boss, a huge zeppelin. Next came 1940, and the European skies were crowded with Spitfire-type fighters and the occasional bomber, including the big boss. Another time warp followed, jumping ahead to 1970 and a battle with Vietnam-era helicopters and a boss twin-prop chopper.
In 1982 (or 1983 in Centuri’s U.S. release), your sleek fighter finally picked on something its own speed. Several somethings, in fact, as waves of jets swooped in to destroy you. A B-52 capped off this stage, standing between you and one more jump to the future… the year 2001. In this final stage, speedy UFO’s swarmed around an asteroid field, with a large flying saucer as a climactic foe. After all times were cleared of threats, the game returned to the past for another run.
The time travel theme may have encouraged players to give Time Pilot a try, but the clever controls helped keep them coming back for more. Your jet was literally at the center of the action, never moving from the middle of the screen. The jet always flew in the direction its nose was pointed, allowing players to loop around unsuspecting enemy aircraft for an attack from behind. The bad guys were numerous, but if you felt the need for even more points, helpless parachutists awaited rescue in every stage.
Time Pilot took its own time by storm, and Konami released a follow-up the next year. Time Pilot ‘84 was strictly a future affair, with a more advanced fighter taking on several stages of different UFO’s. The game added new lock-on missiles to your arsenal, but without the era-hopping hook of the first game, Time Pilot ‘84 was unable to rise above the video game market crash of 1984.
Arcade Machine Release History1982 - Time Pilot
1984 - Time Pilot '84