An incomplete history of time-travel games

31 games, 3 decades, and only a handful of cowboy levels



One of the best-loved time-travel games of all time, there’s not much needs to be said to warrant Chrono Trigger’s inclusion on this list. Not only was the time-skipping a constant plot element, rather than just lazy setup, but the characters’ ability to leap between time periods legendarily opened the game up to an admirable degree of control over the way you wanted to experience the story. Timewarp cleverness at its best.

Did it do your head in? The developers included an entire end-time realm for the specific purpose of helping players get their heads around the game’s concepts.

Were there cowboys in it? Fearing that Chrono Trigger could not be a true time-travel classic without cowboys, one ending featured an oblique verbal reference thereto. Phew!

Time Travel Satisfaction Rating:

Tales of Phantasia (1995)


The first in the now-fairly-huge Tales series, Phantasia took a Final Fantasy-esque approach to time travel, using it as a background story-point rather than making the concept a focus. The game’s twisty-turny plot involves a supervillain whose shtick is jumping through time, and a Ragtag Band of Heroes whose shtick is chasing him. It’s like if Carmen Sandiego had involved lethal magic spells.

Did it do your head in? It kept you on your toes.

Were there cowboys in it? Claus F. Lester is a cowboy name, and Claus F. Lester looks like this.

We humbly submit that Tales of Phantasia has cowboys in it.

Time Travel Satisfaction Rating:


Time Travel Satisfaction Rating:



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