Retro gaming, four of a kind: time travel games inc. Prince Of Persia, The Legend Of Zelda and more

Posted on 22 October 2015
By James Brookfield
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Yesterday was ‘Back to the Future Day’. For those that may be unsure why, the main characters, Marty McFly and Doc Brown, travel to 21 October 2015 in Back to the Future: Part II.

To celebrate this, Four of a Kind will travel back in time to look at the top retro games that use time travel.

There are certain parameters for this list as games presented either contain time travel as a major plot point or gameplay mechanic. Also, despite being a great game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is not featured due to appearing in a previous edition.

1. Day of the Tentacle (PC)

Released in 1993 and published by LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle is a graphic adventure game. The plot focuses on Bernard Bernoulli, Hoagie and Laverne as they attempt to stop the evil Purple Tentacle, born from toxic waste, from executing his plan for world domination.

In order to prevent Tentacle from doing so, Bernard and his friends are sent back in time. The group however, are left marooned in different time periods. To return home the heroes must interact with their environments and iconic historical figures to help each other in their various time periods.

Within each period of history the player takes control of the three characters in an attempt at solving the puzzles. Though puzzles are challenging, with no core logic, the game is still a fun experience.

Overall, Day of the Tentacle is very good, containing standard tropes of Tim Schaffer’s humour and design as well as vastly improving on the original Manic Mansion.

2. Chrono Trigger (SNES)

Chrono Trigger is often regarded as one of the best games to include time travel point due to the infinite, varied methods in which the concept is used to manipulate; environments, characters, gameplay and story to reshape its world. For example acts such as repopulating a forest or filling special treasure chests to then, in the future, return once the contents have aged can be performed.

Further positive aspects of Chrono Trigger include; a memorable cast, multiple endings, and remarkable soundtrack. The reason Square’s RPG game still stands the test of time, pun intended, is mostly due to the ‘dream team’ of; Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yuji Horii and Akira.

The game has since received remake editions, most recently on Nintendo DS and various console network stores.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64)

As Four of Kind always aims to feature just one game from a franchise, it was a hard decision to declare Majora’s Mask as the winner. This is due to the Zelda series having more than one game which utilises time travel, there are four in total, and Majora’s Mask, to some extent, better employs the concept.

Majora’s Mask’s plot centres on a moon that, after falling for three days, will destroy Termina upon impact. By using his Ocarina, Link can relive the same three days continuously to ensure enough time to save the land. The “Song of Time” can be played to go back in time, up to the First Day, to prevent the Moon from crashing into Termina.

Link can also play the “Song of Double Time” in order to travel half day forward to the future. Side quests can be accessed to alter character’s fates, such as preventing a girl from being abducted by aliens, via trial and error.

Majora’s Mask is one of the more intelligent, darker and quirkier Zelda games, telling an engrossing story that adds to reasons for its place on this list.

4. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (Playstation 2)

The first entry in the Prince of Persia reboot trilogy, Sands of Time is the forerunner for standard 3D platform games due to; parkour and the camera’s view changing to different positions once triggered by entering certain areas.

The narrative revolves around the unnamed Prince who, after being tricked into releasing the Sands of Time, must use the Dagger of Time to save the people of the Kingdom of Azad who have transformed into horrible creatures. The dagger grants the Prince special powers including; rewind, slow time and freeze time.

Each ability can be used during combat, depleting one Sand Tank at a time and when empty all powers become inaccessible until more Sand is collected. Rewinding time is the most commonly accessed power, used mainly to correct mistakes made during exploration or combat.

One can argue most of these mistakes are due to the poor camera angles and, at times, unresponsive controls nonetheless Sands of Time is a pleasing game and one of the finest of the trilogy.

That concludes Four of a Kind’s literal journey through the history of time travel games. As always feel free to leave a comment discussing your favourite games. No time capsule will be needed, just a statement in the section below.

Honourable Mentions: Sonic CD (Sega CD), The Last Express (PC), The Journeyman Project (PC), Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (Playstation), Timesplitters 2 (Playstation 2), Shadow of Destiny (Playstation 2) and Live a Live (Famicon/Unofficial translate)