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Gage, your theme music is lovely, but don't you think it's time we did a little something for the kiddies?
Science Fiction Adventure Game series, notable as one of the first and last franchises to make substantial use of full-motion video, as one of the first games to be released in a hybrid format that could be played both on Macs and PCs, as one of the first games to be released on DVD, and for the dubious honor of having remade the first game in the series three times.
The Journeyman Project opens some several centuries on in one of Earth's floating cities, on the very day scheduled for first diplomatic contact with a friendly alien species. (They had wisely chosen to make an appointment ten years in advance to give humanity a collective chance to get used to the idea first.)
Coincidentally, mankind discovered the secret of Time Travel a little while ago. Thus far, it has never been used for any purpose, and the existence of a working "Pegasus" time machine is a guarded secret. The Temporal Protectorate was founded to constantly monitor history, prepared to use the time machine in the unlikely event that anyone else ever discovered the secret and tried to set history wrong.
Our hero, known at this point as "Agent 5", is the Temporal Protectorate agent on duty when, for the first time in history, such an event takes place. As Agent 5, the player travels to four periods in Earth's (future) history, undoing the damage caused by three evil robots, sent back to nudge Earth's history onto a just slightly more militaristic and less alien-friendly track.
Along the way, he discovers the mastermind behind this interference, Eliot Sinclair, inventor of the Pegasus time machine and, as it turns out, rabid xenophobe. Agent 5 stops the half-deranged Sinclair before he can assassinate the alien ambassador, ushering in a new age of interstellar peace.
The original The Journeyman Project suffered from some severe technical flaws, which were corrected for its rerelease as The Journeyman Project Turbo! Later, the game was remade for the Power PC and Playstation with even more technical improvements and more live action as Pegasus Prime.
Agent 5 became a hero, his story became the basis for a popular holo-movie, and he received his own action figure. Needless to say, he was a bit surprised when, the very next day, his future self, now given the name "Gage Blackwood", materialized in his apartment, recruiting him to help clear his own name, as he's been accused of historical thievery. In The Journeyman Project II: Buried in Time, Gage uses an advanced time suit from ten years in his own future to search for clues in precolonial Chichen Itza, a French castle during the Hundred Years' War, Leonardo Da Vinci's workshop and a damaged space station. On this journey, Gage is soon joined by "Arthur", a wisecracking AI sidekick, who offers hints and color-commentary. He eventually discovers that his counterpart has been framed in order to cover up a plot by rogue agent Michelle Visard to secretly pass information on Time Travel to an alien race, having decided that humanity can not be trusted as sole keepers of the technology. Whether or not they can, Arthur sacrifices himself to strand her in another time, while Gage discovers that her alien contacts really just want Time Travel technology to enslave the universe, and puts a stop to that.
The first two games shared the mechanic of the "biochip interface", by which the player could find microchips which offered new abilities to his Time Travel suit. They also placed an emphasis on nonviolent solutions, awarding a "Gandhi bonus" for completing each mission without acts of violence.
The final game in the series, The Journeyman Project III: Legacy of Time, was released on DVD to accommodate high-resolution video, and follows the adventures of the future Blackwood. The Temporal Protectorate faces closure in the wake of the previous game. Blackwood, depressed over the "death" of Arthur -- and his own inability to remember the AI, his younger self's memories having been wiped -- is forced to don an experimental "Chameleon" suit when a massive temporal disruption is detected. Traveling back to the ancient Aegean, he discovers the rogue agent's discarded time-suit, with an intact Arthur inside. He soon discovers that his location is Atlantis, just after its destruction by warring alien fleets, and while tracking down the rogue agent, he also discovers Atlantis' sole survivor: Eliot Sinclair.
Gage captures the agent at the bedside of the embittered, dying Sinclair, whose natural lifespan had been greatly increased by an alien artifact housed at Atlantis. Meanwhile, a mysterious alien battlefleet is heading for Earth. Discovering that three times in Earth's history, ancient cities had been destroyed by the battle between these aliens and those with whom Earth had allied in the first game, Gage is sent back to Atlantis, El Dorado, and Shangri-La, just hours before their destruction, to recover an ancient alien artifact containing the secrets of a long-gone ancestor race who had mastered Time Travel.
Plans were begun for a fourth game, but were quickly scrapped as Red Orb Software, which had bought the series, were absorbed by Brøderbund.
These games provides examples of:
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Averted. In his initial appearance Arthur the AI has been corrupted by its creator and cries unearthly threats against any intruder from his space station tomb...but it's a complete aversion: Arthur was corrupted by his maker's love of twentieth-century media, and the scary noises were a ploy lifted from Scooby Doo to scare off a time-travelling thief. From the moment he meets Agent 5 the two become great friends, and Arthur even proves willing to sacrifice his own existence to save our hero.
- Ancient Astronauts: Both good ones and bad ones. The good ones helped advance the civilisations of Atlantis, Shangri-La, and Eldorado through artifacts powered by alien technology, and the bad ones blew up all three civilisations while fighting each other for the artifacts.
- Anti-Villain: Eliot Sinclair tries to sabotage Earth's interaction with alien species not out of xenophobia, but because these same aliens were responsible for the destruction of his homeland millennia ago.
- He's still ultimately in the wrong, and even comes to acknowledge this at the end of his life, but his motives were reasonable.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Sosiqui. Buddhism is presented as offering the same thing- it's implied the Siddha managed to follow them.
- As You Know: Subverted. Gage is forced to mindwipe his past self at the end of the second game, so a lot of the exposition in the third game has a legitimate reason for needing an explanation.
- Atlantis: One of the settings in the third game.
- Bad Future: Or Bad Present, but since the Present is the Future- Anyway, this is inferred through news items in the altered timeline in the first game, and accidentally creating a Bad Future is a concern for the villain who's merely trying to make society xenophobic enough to reject the offer of joining The Federation.
- Beard of Evil: Dr. Elliot Sinclair.
- Benevolent Precursors: The Sosiqui chose to depart the region of space now governed by the Symbiotry but, knowing their presence would leave marks on younger races, chose to leave behind an artifact containing their collected knowledge. Of all the races, they chose humanity as they saw them as the best guardians of their legacy.
- Border Patrol: Wander out of bounds, and you will be spotted and captured.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Of the Missing Floors in the apartment building, the elevator voice says "this floor has neither been modeled nor rendered". Similarly, the AI in the second game says of a Locked Door: "I got a feeling that the room behind this door was never modeled or rendered".
- Brick Joke: In the first game when you get to the elevator for the first time, it takes someone else to the roof before coming to get you. That's where Sinclair is, waiting with a sniper rifle.
- Made much more blatant in the Pegasus Prime version.
- Can't Take Anything with You: Averted. You even steal thing from other time periods. Lampshaded when the TSA computer says "don't take any historically important objects". If you take the gas canister in NORAD VI, you get "incarcerated" according to the Have a Nice Death screen (likely due to the fact that without the canister pumping sleeping gas into the ventilation, the guards in NORAD VI would wake up before long).
- Copy Protection: The first game asks you to look up codes in the manual on three occasions in order to continue.
- Crazy Prepared: Let's start with having a CD full of historical data in the Jurassic Era in case of a History Rewrite and go from there. Also the TSA has entire protocol, reroutes, and security measures in case of a History Re-Write and if the people in the re-write don't want to fix the past.
- Death World: Norad VI, which has been flooded with poison gas, requiring you to bring a breathing apparatus. Same with the Mars Maze, where there's no life support, and the Shield Generator, where you get irradiated to death if you take too long to solve the Mastermind puzzle.
- Delayed Ripple Effect: The Temporal Security Agency has machines specifically designed to calculate how much time is left before the temporal distortion reaches the present and overwrites it. Waiting too long to go back in time in the first game (or skipping work entirely) will result in Agent 5 being uncreated as apparently he was never born in the new timeline. The trope is expanded in the second game, wherein it is explained that some minor historical alterations wouldn't even reach the present, allowing Agents to get away with mundane mistakes like spilling water or disturbing a spiderweb. The opposite extreme is demonstrated in the third game where the tech guy points out that the temporal distortion that kicks off the story is amplifying itself by setting off a chain reaction of bigger and bigger changes (Presumably the Cyrollans would've found the time travel suit in Atlantis, which would've seriously upset the history of the entire galaxy).
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In the second game the translator biochip is advertised as instantly translating the written and "spoken" forms of any language. That means you can turn it on, then deliberately get caught by the guards in the medieval era to find out what they're saying as they move in for the kill. Save first, of course.
- Early Bird Reveal: If you're quick with your eyes(or just save prior to the moment in question). When you open a certain door in a certain time period, you see the Agent who framed you. Their back is turned, but before you can move in they detect you and turn halfway, spotting you, and beating a hasty Time Jump Exit. If you were quick enough, you'd be able to make out roughly half of the number emblazoned on the front of their helm, thus easily narrowing the possible culprits to two individuals within the TSA. Specifically, it can be either Agent 3 or Agent 8.
- Easter Egg: Too numerous to list, but primarily occur in the third game, frequently by holding the 'E' key before activating certain items.
- Evidence Scavanger Hunt: In the second game. Oops! You've been framed for a Time Crime you didn't commit! Time to start looking for clues.
- Fan of the Past: Arthur is replete with jokes that are topical to the time the games were made.
- Have a Nice Death: "Well, at least you weren't eaten by a grue!"(when Gage gets run over by the maintenance trolley on Mars)
- Help Your Self in the Future: The premise of the second game.
- Holographic Disguise: The Chameleon suit allows you to appear like any person you come in contact with.
- Humans Are Special: The supposedly utopian Cyrollans are rejected as worthy keepers of the Sosiqui Legacy. Humanity gets picked instead.
- In-Game TV: At Future!Gage's pad in Buried In Time.
- Karmic Death: Dr. Sinclair dying of old age.
- Make Wrong What Once Went Right: What Dr Sinclair sends his android underlings to do in the first game.
- He has a very very good reason to do so, though. Problem is that his plan goes horribly right.
- Never the Selves Shall Meet: Averted in Buried in Time
- Nintendo Hard: In all three games, the fact that you need often obscure items from multiple time zones in each game can make things incredibly frustrating. Especially when you have to change discs every time...
- Not So Different: The Cyrollans and the Quotholas in the third game. By the finale it is even revealed that the monstrous Quotholas are actually of a similar species to the Cyrollans, wearing gigantic biosuits. Both species are rejected as worthy candidates for inheriting the Legacy.
- Precursors: The Sosiqui.
- Ret-Gone: One of the possible Have a Nice Death screens, if you let the time distortion wave erase you.
- Same thing happens if you go anywhere other than TSA with the Global Transporter.
- Ripple Effect Indicator: Literally. The Temporal Security Agency is equipped with machines that constantly monitor the past for changes. When something is changed, they even calculate the amount of time left until the Delayed Ripple Effect reaches the present.
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Agent 5 would have a hard time doing his job if this wasn't in effect. The rule in this universe is that travelling back in time before the ripple effect reaches the present renders the time traveller immune to all negative effects of casuality. They can even return to the now-altered present safe and sound, which is a necessity in the first game wherein the Time Police can only identify changes in history by comparing a record of altered history with a backup copy containing unaltered history safeguarded millions of years in the past.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Actually, make that a couple thousand years old. Elliot Sinclair managed to extend his lifespan by drinking water altered by alien technology. He was born in Atlantis, and has good reason for his grudge against the aliens in the first game.
- San Dimas Time: Mostly averted, as the protagonist is a time traveler, but more time than is strictly necessary seems to pass in between acquiring the relics in the third game.
- Shown Their Work: Arthur's exposition in the second and third game are very much this, providing volumes of historical context for each time period visited.
- Stable Time Loop: All over the place, as time travel in this series works not so much as changing what happened in the past, but by making a Stable Time Loop come into effect: a temporal distortion wave only comes into effect when something happens in the past that is supposed to be corrected by another time traveller, explaining how Gage can run around interacting with the past(even its people, in the third game), but doesn't actually change history, as he's expected to do so. Conversely, an action that is expected to be undone by Gage causes a temporal distortion wave because Gage hasn't gone back in time to fix it yet and the timeline expects him to.
- Take Your Time: An artifact of the time-travel based gameplay. Subverted in the first game, though, where if you take too long jumping to the past, you get wiped out by a temporal distortion wave.
- In Legacy of Time, there's another temporal distortion wave, but Take Your Time allows you to stand around in the TSA's jumpsuit departure room and have the lackey yell 'You have to engage your chameleon jumpsuit NOW, Gage!' repeatedly, without penalty, until you do it.
- Temporal Paradox: Averted, somehow by time-traveling before a time-wave from the past reaches you, it's possible to... oh forget it. See, Delayed Ripple Effect.
- Terminator Twosome: Used in the first and second game. In the first, Agent 5 has to intercept an android in each time period before it can effect any major historical changes. In the second, Agent 5 has to track a rogue Agent, and uncover what s/he has changed, any why.
- The Federation: Earth joining the galactic community of like-minded benevolent aliens and the political and technological consequences are a major plot point throughout the series. The sole proprietry of time travel by humans causes significant political head-aches in the second and third games.
- The Slow Path: The rouge Agent's plan in the second game revolves around this. she smuggles time travel schematics and components to an alien race by hiding them in historical artifacts sold in a museum auction. The trick is going back in time to plant them before the items become historical.
- Time Machine: More than one, in suit-form.
- Time Police: The Temporal Security Agency, and, by extension, Gage Blackwood, AKA you. In fact, you could probably summarize this game with the phrase, "A Time Policeman Is You."
- Time Travel: (of course)
- Translator Microbes: In the second game, Gage simply buys a universal translator biochip from a futuristic Home Shopping Channel. In the third game, Arthur, the onboard AI, downloads himself into the translator chip and so has to translate for Gage.
- Took a Shortcut: Averted to a suprising degree. Once you catch up with the rogue agent in the second game, you'll find a machine designed to create synthetic copies of all the items you had to acquire in order to reach the altered locations in each time period. Lucky break for you that Leonardo da Vinci happened to have a spare human heart lying around.
- Updated Rerelease: The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime, an ambitious remake of the original game that was planned for release on Playstation and Saturn; in the end, the Playstation version was released only in Japan, and a Mac version was released in extremely limited quantities in the U.S....with its original controller layout clumsily remapped to the keyboard. However, the game itself was vastly improved, and fit better with the two sequels.
- What the Hell, Player?: In the second game, after acquiring Arthur, it's possible to return to Farnstein's Lab and retrace your steps to the AI Core. Arthur gets understandably freaked out at the prospect of meeting himself and urges you not to go on. If you ignore him for as long as possible, he'll eventually hijack the jump controls and recall you whether you like it or not.
- Who Dunnit to Me?: JP 2: Buried in Time. Your future self has been framed for temporal theft and sabotage, leaving you with the task of discovering not only who the real culprit was, but also what specific parts of history were changed (the changes were minor enough that the rest of the Time Police didn't bother to correct them for fear of accidentally altering history for the worse).