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TIMEKEEPERS

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill


If you are looking for a very challenging puzzle game that can be done a little at a time as a break between adventure games, then Timekeepers may be for you.  Timekeepers was first developed in 1995 for the Amiga computer by Lisa Tunnah and Paul Carrington.  In 2002 they revamped the game for the PC, improving both the graphics and sound.  It was first played within a communication program called the Vulcan Portal, but now plays in a much larger format that makes the game world larger and easier to see than it was when played within the portal.

According to the developers " the evil Emperor Zorg has taken it upon himself to destroy the Earth, in the most elaborate way imaginable.  He has hidden a multitude of nuclear devices in different time zones of Earth's history and unless they are disarmed in a timely fashion, it will mean the annihilation of our beloved home world...  its past, present and future.  In direct response, an elite military force known as the Timekeepers has been established to protect the 4th dimension.  Using your skills and judgment you must organize, delegate and manage your platoon of 14 Timekeepers through 15 Levels within each World, in order to find and disarm the nuclear devices."

Timekeepers is a shareware, strategy, 3rd Person, point & click puzzle game consisting of 8 Worlds (2 Hieronymus, 2 Medieval, 2 Military, and 2 Space worlds).  You download the whole game, the first world being free for you to try out, and if you like it then you purchase the additional worlds at a very reasonable price.

World 2, Level 15 - Disarm Nuclear DevicesEach world is subdivided into 15 different Levels (or problem areas).  The game automatically saves for you after a Level has been completed.  You cannot save within a Level, but if you are unhappy with the results of your last Level, you have the option to play it over again as many times as you want in order to improve on your results from the previous play.

When you begin the game in Level 1 of World 1, you start out with 14 little Timekeepers that are supposed to reach the 15th level and save the world from destruction by disarming 8 nuclear devices located there, making that world safe.  Yes, it's a tough assignment, but someone has got to do it.  Why not you?

Unfortunately these little guys are not too smart, and seem bent on wandering off and committing suicide in one way or another (falling into lava pits or bottomless holes, jumping into space without a helmet, getting killed by the enemy, stepping on land mines, and so on).  Obviously if you end up with less than 8 Timekeepers when you reach the 15th Level, you will not be able to save this World and you have failed your mission.  And when you lose a Timekeeper or two in Level 1, they will not be available to move on to the next Level...  and geez, you only have 13 more Levels to go!

So the first thing you have to do when starting any new Level is to quickly block the little Timekeepers forward progress before they destroy themselves.  This then gives you time to survey the landscape and plan out your strategy.  I found that in most cases using the down arrow is the easiest way to quickly block their forward progress (see picture below).  In one particularly difficult level I had to use the left directional arrow instead, but you'll see why soon enough if you have the courage to continue with the game.

World 1, Level 1 - Blocked Timekeepers

Once you have the Timekeepers in check, then you will be able to explore and see what needs to be done, which brings up another thing about the game.  Your viewpoint is from above looking down on the landscape, and you are only able to see one third of the landscape at a time.  In order to see the rest of the landscape, you must place your cursor in one of the blank grayish-black areas on either end (top or bottom) of the Level, and then click the left mouse button and hold it down...  at which point you will start scrolling to the rest of the landscape that you had not previously seen (see picture below).

World 1, Level 1 - Scrolling Upward

Once your Timekeepers are held in check, you can take your time deciding on what needs to be done first, and then second, and so on, in order to open up a route that will get all the Timekeepers to safety.  Safety is entering a yellowish-orange Teleport Pad that transports them forward in time to the next Level.  Your Timekeepers will need to do such things as push buttons to open gates or extend bridges over lava pits, destroy enemies that block their way, shoot cannons at obstructions to create openings, call a bird or helicopter to transport them to another location, jump over things, and whatever else is necessary to get them to safety.

But if my little Timekeepers are totally unable to do anything for themselves except get into deadly trouble, then how do I guide them to a specific location and get them to perform a particular action?  Well, you place icons along the path that you want them to follow.  The developers have provided us with 9 icons along the bottom of our game world, as seen below.

Nine Icons to Work With

The first icon on the left is an eraser that can be used to remove other icons. The next four are directional arrows for forward, back, left and right.  These obviously guide the Timekeeper to a location.  The clock face is next, and when a Timekeeper lands on it, it makes him wait approximately 5 seconds.  It may come in handy when you have to quickly go get a different icon for him.  The next icon is for jumping over small lava pits or small bottomless holes, barrels, pipes and land mines, etc.  It is used, along with the directional arrows, to get the Timekeeper safely to a destination.  Next is the operate icon that resembles an open-end wrench.  When a Timekeeper lands on it, he will push a button, shoot a cannon, extend a bridge, go through a transporter or whatever, depending on the thing he is operating.  World 4, Level 8 - Layout of IconsAnd the last icon that looks like a shield is for aggression.  When placed in front of an enemy and the Timekeeper lands on it, he will become more aggressive and will be able to defeat that enemy.  I should mention that this all sounds simple enough, but the developers have found devious ways to test our skills at using these icons at various times.  Be forewarned.

OK.  You've planned your strategy and have placed your icons in position (see example at right).  I often found it helpful to work backwards from the teleporter pad.  Now it's time to ask for volunteers.  Well, not really.  Just select one or two little guys, the ones closest to what you need to have done, and see if you can get him or them to open up some gates, extend bridges and whatever else needs to be done to not only get them to the teleporter and on to the next Level, but also to open a way that gets the rest of the platoon safely through to that next Level.  Don't be in a big hurry to save your volunteers. You want to be absolutely sure that they have opened everything necessary so that all the others can get to safety too.

It's a great little game, sort of like Lemmings or Gruntz, and is especially good for keeping your mind off your worries.  It's frustrating, fun, addictive, (did I say frustrating?), enjoyable, very satisfying (after you get past frustrating), and above all, great fun.  Don't miss it!

  March 2006  Mr. Bill


World 3, Level 7
Full View Screenshot
(black area is your desktop)


Originally developed (1995) for the Amiga by  Vulcan.  Now revamped (2002) for the PC by  Vulcan Software.


Rated:   E   for Everyone  (mild violence)  - Mr. Bill's Rating


Minimum System Requirements:  Windows


Where To Buy This Game:


Walkthroughs or Hints:

No walkthrough has been found, but if you need help, email Mr. Bill (I know I'll regret this).


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