The Dorklyst: The 18 Greatest Time Travelers in Videogame History

By Alexander Z. Rogers / April 12, 2013

15. Ness (Earthbound)

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The main quest for the classic JRPG Earthbound really kicks off with time-traveling space alien Buzz Buzz warning your hero to save the world from future galactic overlord Giygas. While most of Ness' journey is spent in our time zone, gathering allies, visiting sanctuaries of power, and taking weird photos, the final moments of the game require a time machine. Lucky for Ness, his dad tinkers with just such a horribly dangerous contraption. While the Terminator franchise stipulated that all time travelers were required to give up their clothes (and their pride) before heading through the portal, Earthbound time law requires you even leave your fleshy parts behind. Ness and company have to surrender their souls (or for the non-religious, "scientific electric identity waves") to robot bodies, likely transferred via floppy disk since this was the '90s. Somehow robot psychics battling a giant cyber-spider as well as an all-consuming demonic evil didn't do any further damage to the timeline and all was set more or less right. Now Ness spends most of his time beating small Pokemon with a bat, which may be a sign that transferring one's body to a time-traveling robot can leave some deep psychic scars.

14. Blinx (Blinx Series)

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Remember Blinx? Me neither, but apparently this was one of Microsoft's attempt at an official console mascot. Sega has its anthropomorphic hedgehog, Sony had an anthropomorphic bandicoot, and Nintendo got by with an anthropomorphic plumber – so why not a talking cat with a vacuum cleaner? Also, he has those rad goggles! While the marketing department was busy checking with Legal if they could copyright the catchphrase "bad cattitude", Blinx busied himself cleaning the hell out of the time stream. Basically, Blinx is a time janitor, tasked with sucking up monstrous time glitches with a vacuum cleaner. His time powers were not limited to borrowing Luigi's Poltergust however. Using a combination of time crystals allowed players to rewind, fast forward, pause, record or slow down time. These powers helped our platforming hero solve otherwise impossible puzzles, bound impassable obstacles and defeat time-altering bosses in order to save the princess, because that's something all potential mascots have to do at some point (or always). Despite all the audience testing and PowerPoint presentations to executives predicting otherwise, Blinx was never popular enough to become the Xbox's spokescat. The game still managed to garner a sequel, in which you not only got to reprise the role of the titular hero but also got to play as a totally badass, time-stealing pig biker dude. As your pig biker and cat sweeper fought each other and sometimes helped each other in an attempt to fix a giant time crystal, you could customize your character's appearance. Unfortunately, none of these options involved becoming something other than a janitor cat or a biker pig.

13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT: Turtles in Time)

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The words Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do not necessarily conjure up the notion of time travel, but such is the careful subtlety of the creative geniuses behind the TMNT franchise that you have to really explore the material to find that time travel is as much a staple of the series as lasagna and marshmallow pizza. For instance, there was the time the turtles went to Medieval Japan in that movie you shouldn't have seen. More importantly, there's Turtles in Time, which saw our heroes exiled to different time periods by arch-nemesis Shredder, who has embraced his inner-Carmen Sandiego and made off with the Statue of Liberty. For a game called Turtles in Time, a lot of the game takes place in the boring old present, which I guess, technically, is a period in time, but still. It takes as much as a quarter of the game before Leonardo, Donatello and whoever has the misfortune of playing as the other two get sucked back into prehistoria. Once in the past, the turtles have to contend with period-specific foes like legions of Foot Soldiers and a boss fight against a mutant… so actually it's not that different. Though once we get into the far-flung future with space colonies and aliens we get to fight more foot soldiers and Krang in a spaceship… sigh. Well, it may have lacked variety, but it proved that beating up robot henchmen and evil mutants is timeless fun indeed. Now, one might wonder if Shredder and his cohorts had a time machine all along, why not just go back in time and prevent the turtles from being born in the first place or something like that? To which I respond by moving on to the next character.

12. Sgt. Cortez (TimeSplitters Series)

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The 25th century space marine Vin Diesel stand-in, Sergeant Cortez, gets transported through several centuries of human genre clich├ęs, from the Old West to the 1920s Chicago gangster era and even into a post-apocalyptic robot-dominated future. His mission: stop the evil alien race the franchise is named after, before they wipe out human history. Cortez is about as fleshed out as the monkeys who chase you around with machine guns (that can happen – this game is that awesome), but character development played distant fifth fiddle in this series. Really, TimeSplitters was always more about having a game where you can potentially shoot cowboys, Russians and robots without changing game discs – and what more reason do you really need to love a game? The last entry in the series made the story of stopping the TimeSplitters (who turn out to be a time traveling scientist's creation and not an alien race, because that's important) much more central, and reduced the amount of time you spent in anime-inspired Neo-Tokyo to zero. There has yet to be another game in the franchise. Coincidence? I think not.

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