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A lot of my video game memories involve my Dad. He wasn’t a gamer at all, but he lived in Minneapolis while I lived in Central Wisconsin. Somehow, every time I would come over to visit him I would have an awesome video game experience. Whether it was the incredible Sega Master System exhibit at the Rosedale Mall, the giant convention center hall filled with arcade games that we just happened to stumble upon, or the time he bought me my TurboGrafx-16, my trips to Minnesota seemed to always include something video game related.
I can’t remember exactly where we saw Time Traveler, but I seem to recall that it was at some sort of museum where they were showing off new technology. We saw a special effects exhibit from the movie Aliens, some models used in the Star Wars trilogy, and a room full of “cutting edge” video game tech. The unit that grabbed everybody’s attention was Sega’s Time Traveler. The game projected images on mirrors creating a hologram-like effect. You played as a cowboy named Marshall Gram who must travel through time and, of course, save a princess from a mad scientist, or some such ridiculous bullshit. The game ran on Laserdisc technology and as such played a lot like Dragon’s Lair. In other words: Quick Time Events; press the correct button at the right time and proceed.
So while the gameplay was certainly nothing to write home about, the game was an instant draw due to the stunning visual effects. Your character walked around on a desolate black landscape, but strewn throughout were bushes, signposts, and other bits of scenery. The screen lay flat and the “holograms” walked on top of it, making the player feel like s/he could reach out and grab anything they saw. And for 1991, that shit was amazing!
Again, while the gameplay was lackluster, and the game cost a dollar to play, it makes me wonder why this technology wasn’t implemented in other games. Nearly twenty years later, I’m guessing game developers could come up with some bad ass ideas. Of course, they would need an arcade to house these games, and those aren’t exactly plentiful these days.
If you’d like to learn more about Time Traveler, check it out at Klov where these images came from.