As the saying “Time waits for no man” goes, nobody really has a firm grip on the control of time and we could only imagine the possibilities of time manipulation in our dreams and in fiction. Video games are one of the facets of fiction which allow us to take the phenomenon and the concepts of time into our own imagination and control. We use video games as a medium to convey our perception and interest of time through the creative usage of time as the main element of a story, time usage as abilities, and generally anything to do with time which we cannot do here in the real world.

This is a list that is dedicated to the games and series which uses time as either a story element or a gameplay mechanic in certain creative and interesting ways.

Organization XIII makes a return in Kingdom Hearts II with the remaining members who were left after the events of Chain of Memories. As usual, each member specializes in a particular style of fighting and commands supernatural abilities in conjunction with his or her fighting style. One of the members named Luxord has a style of fighting in which he manipulates giant cards as weapons and also manipulates time at his will.

The battle with Luxord features a twist on the traditional health bars as representatives of hitpoints by introducing a time meter for both Sora and Luxord for this battle only. The time meter represents the amount of time that each character has left and can be depleted by the respective character being damaged and also time will slowly trickle away as the battle drags on. The first combatant to run out of time will be the loser, but Sora also has to watch out for his own health meter too on the bottom right because having his own health bar or the time bar depleted first can spell a loss for him.

Luxord will make use of his card manipulation tricks throughout the battle. He could transform Sora into a weak dice or card of which Sora would have to revert back to his normal form in order to be effective in the battle. Luxord could also force Sora into participating in different card tricks such as having Sora pick the right card out of four cards in front of him, and also transforming himself into a card and then mixing himself in with a crowd of scattered cards. Finally, Luxord's final trick has him stacking a tower of cards around Sora and then forcing Sora to match the right shapes in each slot of Sora's command menu so that Sora could break out. All of his tricks have a consequence for Sora: he loses time if he doesn't win or get them. All of Luxord's in battle abilities relates to his element and his usage of tricks to let Sora lose time.

Out of all of the Organization XIII members, Luxord himself and also the time meter being used during the battle with him allows him to be on this top ten as a manipulator of time and tricks.

Sakuya made her debut in the sixth installment of the Touhou series titled "Embodiment of Scarlet Devil" as a chief maid who protected her mistress from the heroine. After her initial debut, she has made appearances in future installments as either a protagonist or as an antagonist.

Sakyuya has the characteristic ability of time manipulation which she uses in conjunction to her knife throwing attacks. Generally speaking, the variations of her abilities include the power to slow, hasten, and even stop time through different forms throughout the series. A couple of examples of her power in the main series are: In "Embodiment of Scarlet Devil", she could spread out knives across the screen and then send them through time to use again in the future; and in "Perfect Cherry Blossom", her time abilities comes in play when she is Type B and could use the "Perfect Square" bombs. The game with the most usage of her abilities has to be in "Touhou Hisoutensoku" where she uses time abilities exclusively such as "Stopwatch" or "Sakuya's World" in conjunction with knives as special abilities to take advantage of the opponent.

Sakuya has been a prominent character in the series since her debut and has been a dedicated user of time abilities throughout the series in different forms. She receives a spot on this Top Ten for giving the series a character who uses time based abilities.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time details the story of a Prince who was clandestinely tricked by a Vizier to open a mystical Hourglass which contains the "Sands of time", and in turn the sand which escaped from the Hourglass destroyed his Kingdom and turned its residents into Sand Monsters. The Prince must use the Dagger of Time to capture the Sands of Time and restore it back to the Hourglass in order to reset the damage which he had done.
The Dagger of Time plays an important role not only in the story but more so in the gameplay itself. The Prince is highly athletic and is able to deftly perform acrobatic stunts to explore and fight. The Dagger of Time allows the Prince to control time by rewinding time up to ten seconds in the past, stopping and even slowing down enemies. The Dagger itself is not unlimited and has a certain limit of charges before it must be supplied with the sand left by fallen enemies. The player can extend the number of charges by collecting Sand Clouds to increase the number of Sand Glasses which are used for rewinding time.
The usage of the Dagger of Time and the Hourglass of Time for both the story aspect and a gameplay mechanic allows this game to be placed within this top ten.

In Super Mario 64, there are 15 main worlds and each world is characterized by different environments and features which distinguishes it from others. The worlds are connected to the hub world that is Peach's Castle and players can navigate around the Castle and enter the different worlds through paintings or other features of the Castle such as specific walls. Inside each world, the player can collect the 7 different stars found within when he/she satisfies the requirements needed to acquire the star. The specific world for the subject of this top ten is the world named "Tick Tock Clock" in which players will have to manipulate time upon entering the world in order to acquire certain stars.

Tick Tock World is the 14th course in the game and is located at the third floor in the Castle. As the player enters the third floor, Mario will be immediately greeted by a giant clock that sits directly at the opposite end of the room. As the player backflips up to the Clock's face, he/she will notice that the hands on the Clock’s face are moving. The hands are not there just for aesthetic purposes and are instead what drives the gimmick of the world itself: time based entry which affects the inner workings of the Clock.

The player can enter the Clock when the large hand is pointing at or between the three specific hours: 12, 6, and 9. Entering at 12 exactly will make all the parts stop, entering between 12 and 6 will make the parts run normally, entering between 6 and 12 will make the parts run fast, and entering at 6 exactly will make the parts move at random speeds and in random directions. The speed of which the parts move in is significantly important because it shapes the inner environment to work specifically to allow passage for Mario to pass through. While some stars from within could be acquired through practically any speed, certain stars can only be acquired when the player has set the right speed for it. For example, you cannot acquire the star for the "Stop time for Red Coins" objective unless you stop the Green Bars from moving at the beginning of the World. Another example would be that there's also a specific part in the World where Mario will have to leap off of a moving pole to access a higher level of the Clock and he cannot do that unless you have the time moving for him.

Overall, the usage of specific speeds of which time flows is highly important because it controls the accessibility for certain parts of the Clock and for certain objectives. This World could also be fun to mess around with at different time settings if the player feels like it as well. The entry for Tick Tock Clock from Super Mario 64 is on this Top Ten because it features such a time mechanism as a gimmick for this specific world.

Braid is an action and platforming game which was incorporates the usage of time manipulation into the usual elements of gameplay which you could expect from a platformer. The story of this game is centered on a character named Tim as he assembles clues from text messages that are dispersed across different worlds in order to rescue a princess. In each world, there are six worlds with each having its own unique variation of time manipulation properties.

There are a total of six different worlds in this game and each world has its own set of levels of which the player must progress through and work the puzzles from within and also collect puzzle pieces to assemble jigsaw puzzles with. The player could use an unlimited time reversal feature and the feature allows all possible actions to be reversed up to a certain point in the past. As with the variations of time manipulation in each world, the player must make use of each unique variation in order to work the puzzles around it. Two examples being 1) in World 6 where the player is given a magic ring which slows down the time around it when placed anywhere and also 2) in World 4, where the directional flow of time is reliant on the player moving in a direction to the right(forward), left(rewind), or being still(stop). It is also worth noting that the game has the player starting off on World 2 and then proceeding to World 6 before finishing off the game at world 1.

The usage of time manipulation abilities in different variants which are unique for each world allows this game to have a place on this top ten.

Final Fantasy is one of the longest running video game series with many familiar recurring elements which could be experienced throughout the span of the series. One of the recurring features which is going to be mentioned for the sake of this top ten's topic is the magic category of "Time Magic" and the "Time Mage" Job.

Time Magic generally are classified as a magic category which is dedicated to spells for the manipulation of time and space. There are a myriad of Time Magic spells with each unique property, ranging from "Haste" and "Slow" to hasten and hinder characters on the field to the offensive "Meteor" which does neutral elemental damage to enemies. In some installments, a few of the Time Magic spells can get an upgraded version of the basic tier to the "-ra" or "-ga" or even the "-ja" tiers of magic. Time Magic is not a definite catch all category to the time and space related spells because sometimes a few select spells could fall into the White or Black Magic categories as well depending on the installment. In fact, Time Magic as a category or Time Mages as a Job didn't make their debut until Final Fantasy V. In most games, Time Magic is a selectable category only when there's a dedicated Time Mage Job using it or at least have it as a sub-class(i.e.: the Tactics series) or it could be used freely as one of the categories which could be learned through a character development system. Time Magic related spells, like all other classes of magic, could be learned through different means and could be either permanently learned (i.e: Sphere Grid in X) or it could be equippable only (i.e.: Junction System in VIII), although not always classified as "Time Magic" like mentioned before. Time Magic could also be used as a side effect to select equipment and abilities such as customizing a weapon in Final Fantasy X to have "Slowstrike" which slows enemies on contact provided that the enemy is not immune to it. Time Magic could also be used from enemies as well with the regular names or with special names like "Choco Meteor". Time Magic could also have uses outside of battle such as casting "Float" to stay above hazardous terrain.

Time Mages made their debut in Final Fantasy V as a Job which can be unlocked through the story. The classic Time Mage has a familiar characteristic image of being dressed in blue robes with white trims and they also wear a coney hat which features a star in the middle. Any character could be configured into the Time Mage Job (with a few exceptions like the Tactics Advance series) or have the Time Magic category equipped. The character who is in the main or sub-role of a Time Mage Job has the access to the Time Magic category in which they specialize in. Time Mages are generally bountiful in magical stats and not physical stats, and they could wield staves, daggers, robes and hats. Time Mages are usually in a supportive role and provides Time Magic as an auxiliary support to other characters. Time Magic used by Time Mages could generally be beneficial to the Time Mages' allies in a few ways such as hastening characters so their wait duration between turns would be shortened, Immobilizing or Stopping an enemy, casting Gravity spells to soften the enemy by shaving off certain portions of their HP, and much more.

An honorable mention to Final Fantasy VIII could also fit in here as well for its usage of time as a main plot element because the main protagonists in the game have to fight against an antagonist who could manipulate time and space, and is determined to destroy all existence through the use of Time Compression.

Whether Time Magic could be used by itself or in conjunction to other abilities, the Job or category could be an useful asset in any battle or any place outside of battle as well. This prominent category of magic and Job earned its place on this top ten for its relevance to the series and to this top ten.

The story of Radiant Historia is about a war between two opposing nations, Alistel and Granorg, who are fighting each other for land which hasn't been consumed by a mysteriously fatal disease. The story follows an agent named Stock from Alistel as he becomes wounded during a rescue mission and ended up discovering a hidden place named Historia within the book he was carrying. Upon arriving, a pair of twins tells him of the "White Chronicle" and how he could travel through time using the book. Stock must use the White Chronicle to maneuver through different pivotal points in time in order to save the world.

The traversing through time aspect of the game is highly important as a story plot. In this game, the player is given two timelines: the "Standard" and the "Alternate". At the end of the introduction, the player will start one of the two timelines by joining different sides: joining Rosch will start the player off on the Alternate timeline whereas staying with Heiss will start the player off on the Standard timeline. The use of time travel is emphasized because the player will need to have Stock traverse through the past to certain points of history to make choices which could affect the timeline's outcome. There are various nodes which represents junctions where different paths meet in which Stock could choose the path he wishes to take in order to alternate the timeline. There are many different possible endings to this game and all of which could be achieved through the use of time to carefully select the ideal conditions of which you want through the branching decision making process with dialogue and also sidequest influence.

The usage of time travel as part of the story to achieve different results allows this game to be a part of this top ten.

In Ocarina of Time, Link is the "Hero of Time" who has been chosen by the Sages to restore Hyrule to its former self by relinquishing it from Ganondorf's grasp and to seal Ganondorf into the Sacred Realm. To do this, Link must traverse between two different eras: the pre-Ganondorf era when Link was a child and the post-Ganondorf era when Link is an adult.

Time traveling through the eras is only available after Link pulls out the Master Sword for the first time from within the Temple of Time as part of the story. After Link completes the Forest Temple, however, he will be able to freely travel between the two eras whenever he visits the Temple of Time by inserting the Master Sword back into the pedestal to return to the Child era or to pull out the Master Sword to go into the Adult era. The significance of time traveling in this game is substantial because it directly affects the story, extras and even the environment in this game.

Storywise, the story between the two eras is about Ganondorf's intended takeover of Hyrule and even the world by acquiring the Triforce in the Sacred Realm in order to wield divine power. In the first half of the story when Link is in the Child era, Link must acquire the three Spiritual Stones needed to enter the Sacred Realm at first and then the Song of Time to open it, but unintentionally opened it for Ganondorf to swoop into the Sacred Realm and allowed him to control Hyrule. In the Adult era, Link must visit different Temples to awaken the Sacred Realm's Sages so that the Sages could amass all of their power in order to imprison Ganondorf in the Sacred Realm. Child and Adult Link also have some exclusive era weapons restricted to use in a particular era only. The Spirit Temple also needs for you to first complete the western wing of the Temple as a Child in order to be able to enter the eastern wing as an adult.
The environment around Hyrule also differs between the eras. In the Child era, Link is within a relatively peaceful and bright Hyrule with the landmarks in their original selves which are intact and populated. In the Adult era, however, Hyrule is overshadowed by Ganondorf's reign and the land is gloomier in general with some landmarks being completely emptied and/or left in ruins. Familiar faces could also be seen from around Hyrule whether in their original places or not, and a few went under cosmetic changes from the time difference.

Some of the extras are era exclusive while some needs for Link to transcend between eras: examples being the Biggoron's Sword which could only be acquired during the Adult era and the Song of Storms which could be learned by Adult Link and played by Child Link to drain the Well. Many other pick-ups such as Heart Containers are available as well which makes use of the time alternation in order to acquire them during a specific era.

The introduction of the two eras in Link’s life during the events of Ocarina of Time also inspired different routes for the chronology of the series’ timeline. Ocarina of Time makes it on the list for the classic implementation of two eras in the Hyrulian timeline from within the story as the first game to do so in the series.

The story of Chrono Trigger is about a group of adventurers who gathered together to prevent the world from a worldwide catastrophe which could be caused by an extraterrestrial parasite. At first, the story follows Chrono, Lucca and Marle as they first accidentally travelled through time because of a science experiment and have to restore history back on its tracks by correcting a time paradox. It was not until they arrived at the future in the year 2300 that they discovered an advanced civilization which was destroyed because of a diabolic creature named "Lavos", and the three of them vowed to travel through time and prevent the destruction of their world.

The significance of time travel involved in this story comes from the plot itself which is derived from how the main characters have travel through time throughout the game to work through the timeline in order to ultimately succeed at their goal. The adventurers weave through time and their travels takes them from the Prehistoric era to the Future, and even to the End of Time itself. The times in which they would spend within each era are for trying to gather allies, collect information and defeat certain antagonists. Along the way, they even acquire the "Epoch" which is a vehicle that allows them to traverse through each era at their own convenience. An interesting thing about the ending is that there are actually 13 different endings in this game which could be triggered when the player fulfills a specific requirement, and each ending could be accomplished by beating the game at a specific point in the plot.

Chrono Trigger is on this top ten for incorporating the usage of time travel over multiple eras in the in game world for the story.

In Majora's Mask, Link travels to the land of Termina which is facing doomsday as the moon threatens to destroy it in three days’ time unless Link could summon the four Giants to stop the moon from falling. Link must make use of an assortment of different masks with unique effects in order to accomplish his objective. However, Majora's Mask has a unique three day time system within this game which differentiates it from the other installments and it is crucial to both the story and the environment around Termina as well.

At the beginning of each day, there will be a black screen with white text which details the day number and how many hours are remaining till doomsday. At the bottom of the screen there will be a semi-circular clock which displays the current time and gives players an idea of how many hours are left to the day. With each day there are different events and choices for Link to make with some events only being exclusive for one single day and some events which could be done at any day. The player must make good use of the time he has available to progress through both the story and also for acquiring collectibles, and Link could manipulate time as he wishes with the "Song of Invert Time" which slows down time, the "Song of Double Time" which fast forwards time, and finally the "Song of time" which transports Link back to the first day if needed. Failure to complete the story's main objective of summoning the four Giants at the end of three days will result in Termina being destroyed and Link being transferred back to the first day anyway. Link could go back to the first day anytime he wants when he plays the Song of time but the transport will come at the price of taking all of his unused Rupees as well as resetting any progress for dungeons and quests. Masks, Songs learned, and certain items can still be kept as well as any Rupees that are given to the bank in Clock Town.

The fun of Majora's Mask really comes from collecting the masks and doing the side events, both of which needs mostly heavy dependence from usage of the time cycle system. Let’s take the Romani Ranch sidequests as an example. Romani Ranch has two featured sidquests: a sidequest where you'll have to protect the farm from foreign Aliens and another sidequest where you'll have to escort milk to the Milk Bar in town and fend off bandits along the way. The Alien part must be done at the first day when Link can access the Romani Ranch by destroying the boulder at the entrance and talking to Romani in order to prepare the defense against the aliens' siege on the Ranch. If Link succeeds in defending the Ranch then the option of going to town with Cremia on the second day to deliver the milk will be available. If Link is not able to defend successfully then nothing further can be done within the Ranch. Likewise for mask collecting, certain masks could only be collected during certain time periods and sometimes the player must also have done an event on prior days. For example, the "All Night Mask" which Link can only acquire after helping the Old Lady against Sakon on the night of the first day and then buying it at the night of the final day.

The usage of this three day time period cycle which the events and collection of masks are heavily dependent on makes it different from traditional Zelda elements. Not only that, but it also allows players to redo events as many times as the player likes because of time manipulation being available as well. The implementation of this system within the game allows Majora's Mask a spot on the top ten.

Thank you for reading my Top Ten. If you have any comments and/or suggestions, please contact me through PM or you could find me on different boards (mainly RI, CE and Top Ten).

Honorable mentions:

League of Legends: Zilean’s abilities relates to time manipulation.

TimeSplitters: traversing through eras to stop the Timesplitters.

Oracle of ages: the Harp of Ages allows Link to travel to the past and back.

Sonic CD: the entire plot revolves around “Little Planet” which is a planet that’s unique for its time traveling properties.

Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time: Mario and Luigi could meet their past selves.

Assassin’s Creed series: I am not entirely sure about this one, but the entire premise of the series is to visit the memories of Desmond’s ancestors from long ago in certain eras and so that might have a tie in somewhat with time travel.

List by highwind07 (01/10/2013)

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