Article from 2011

 

By Tibe

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The imagination can roam endlessly on the possibility for a human being to travel in time. Science fiction and time travel, wether in movies or video games, often find their inspiration in literature, especially that of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in which the theme has been often discussed. Some major pieces of literature are briliantly dealing with the subject, and in these come back regularly different interpretations of what we call the temporal paradox, differing according to the authors, but also and especially epic adventures, improbable and sometimes tragic endings. Here are some titles that I highly recommend for people who'd like to discover -or re-discover- the subject:

 

Le voyageur imprudent, Rene Barjavel: Here's a quite unknown masterpiece of science fiction and time travel. The inimitable style of the author, licked, accurate, substantiated, sometimes terribly realistic but also sensitive and nourished with details delivers a great novel. The traveler uses chemistry to move in time. The temporal paradoxes are striking and the end of the book is simply fabulous.

 

The Time Machine, HG Wells: This is a great classic, adapted twice for the cinema and arguably the most famous work on this subject. An inventor creates in this workshop a machine that allows to travel through time: the mechanical process is here! This adventure goes far more in the future, and discovers how the world has changed hundreds of thousands of years later.

 

The shadow out of time, HP Lovecraft: This genius is the most offbeat, quirky and funky author that I have ever read. In an absolutely amazing style, wealthy in details and mystical references as obscure as the Necronomicon, The shadow out of time includes four novels, made of one -or several- hundred pages. Parallel worlds, scientifics facing incredible discoveries, terrifying events, but also the psychic approach of fantastic phenomenons... and more precisely the journey of the spirit in foreign bodies through time ...

 

The end of eternity, Isaac Asimov: A very complex and scientific book. In the distant future, time travel has become commonplace and real state organization now exists around this technology.

RETRO-GAMING AND TIME TRAVEL

The topic is here addressed in a simplistic expression, through some good arcade/action games in the eighties and the nineties, but also in a few excellent adventure/RPG games. Hundreds of games were made using the time travel theme, but I will only speak of the few ones I know to be good or excellent titles: because many were not good softs, while yet being adaptations of great movies: one can only think about the Back to the Future games! But also a bunch of mediocre creations not demonstrating a lot of imagination or gaming qualities. Best, only the best!

In the 80's, we clearly distinguish three segments of the video game market: arcade games, always at the forefront of technology; the home systems, boasting some exclusive title and ports of arcade games; and finally, the 8-bit computers. On these machines, there were more role-playing or adventure games than on consoles or arcades, that were dedicated to platformers, Shoot em Up, Beat them Up and VS fighting games. It's back in 1987 that appeared the first notable games based on time travel. In arcades, Romstar release Time Soldiers, the ancestor of Ninja Commando: it's a Run'n'Gun using a vertical scrolling, sending one or two players save their compatriots lost through time: prehistory, Rome, World Wars, the future... The time travel is here a primary element of the scenario more than gameplay, since it's only used as a pretext to offer different enemies and backgrounds. Passengers of Time, made by Ere on Amstrad CPC 6128, was released the same year: here it is a role-playing game, where all the adventure is based on the time travel... Nice try: an interesting game, taking and deep... despite the very limited technology of the system!

Time Soldiers, the straightforward arcade game...
Time Soldiers, the straightforward arcade game...
and the Passengers of Time, a sympathic adventure that will solicit your brain!
and the Passengers of Time, a sympathic adventure that will solicit your brain!

A wide range of quality titles, in the same line as the Passengers of Time, came out on 8-bit computers in the late eighties. Era and Lankhor were two great editors of the genre, and the fourth dimension was a recurring theme in their creations, as for example in the excellent Sram games. Explora, also known as Chrono Quest, is a video game saga whose first episode was released in 1988 on PC, ST and Amiga. Still in the Point'n'Click genre, three sequels were made and proved to be excellent adventure softs, very addictive, in which time travel create real puzzle situations.

Chrono Quest, PC, 1988
Chrono Quest, PC, 1988
Chrono Quest II, PC, 1990
Chrono Quest II, PC, 1990
Chrono Quest III, PC, 1990
Chrono Quest III, PC, 1990
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