Crystal Hour Glass

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The very first Hourglass in Catacomb Abyss.

Unique to the Catacomb Adventure Series, the Crystal Hour Glass is an incredibly powerful find. It is a magickal artifact that, when picked up, stops time for all but Petton Everhail until all 100 grains of sand have flowed through the Hour Glass (around 30 seconds of real time). While time is stopped, enemies are frozen, but the player cannot directly hurt them either - any Magick Missiles fired off will hover in place until time resumes, at which point they will fire off normally, allowing you to leave a volley of projectiles as an unpleasant surprise for your enemies when the time stop ends. The spell works with Zappers, and Xterminators as well, allowing you to leave these in enemies' paths. Unfortunately, the Catacomb Adventure Series does have a projectile limit, which does somewhat limit how much one can abuse this potent item, but it can be remarkably effective nonetheless, both for evening the odds against a large group of enemies and running through dangerous areas.

While time is stopped, the player is effectively invincible unless they bump into an environmental hazard (such as a Barrier or burning Treant). The player can also pick up items, use Cure Potions to heal themselves, or open locked doors while time is stopped, though the usual pick-up jingle won't play.

Unlike all the other spell items, Crystal Hour Glasses are used immediately and not added to the player's inventory like spell orbs or potions. The player must grab them and use them as they come, rather than pick them up and save them for later. They're also extremely fragile, like many treasures in the Catacomb Adventure Series, and will be destroyed if shot.

The Crystal Hour Glass can be seen as foreshadowing at what Nemesis has planned in Catacomb Apocalypse. The item first shows up in Catacomb Abyss, and appears again in Catacomb Armageddon, before virtually vanishing in Catacomb Apocalypse, when Nemesis begins his greatest scheme yet involving Time Travel.

Important Warning[edit]

While time is stopped, the player can leave shots to fire off when time resumes.

The Crystal Hour Glass, while incredibly powerful, also screws a great deal with the game engine. Saving a game while a Crystal Hour Glass is active, or loading a save of a game with an active Hour Glass can render the game unwinnable - if the player somehow manages to get the time stop effect to never wear off, it becomes impossible for players to destroy breakable walls, and effectively it prevents the player from being able to get any further in the game.

The manual even cautions about this: "When you find one of the rare Hour Glasses, save the current position of the game before proceeding to experiment with a time-frozen world."

The effect is mostly avoidable by not saving when a Crystal Hour Glass is active.


  • Clearly inspired by the Time Stop spell from Dungeons and Dragons, which works the exact same way and inspired a lot of the Catacomb series.
  • A similar power is present in Sand Trap, the final game in the Apple II line of Catacomb games.
  • The Crystal Hour Glasses and their function pre-dates the bullet time features of later games like Requiem: Avenging Angel, Max Payne and F.E.A.R..
  • The effect of the Crystal Hour Glass, with the player leaving projectiles to hit the enemy when time resumes is similar to the time stop ability of The World in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Interestingly, Stardust Crusaders came out around the same time as Catacomb Abyss.
Catacomb Adventure Series
Games: Catacomb Abyss - Catacomb Armageddon - Catacomb Apocalypse
Lore: Petton Everhail - Nemesis - The Towne
Common Enemies: Demon - Troll - Evil Eye - Skeleton Warrior - Mage
Common Items: Bolt, Zapper, Xterminator, Cure Potion, Scroll, Jewel, Key, Treasure Chest - Crystal Sphere - Crystal Hour Glass
Developers: Greg Paul Malone II - Nolan Martin - Michael Maynard - James T. Row - Jerry Jones - Carol Ludden - Steven Maines
Catacomb Abyss
Characters: Petton Everhail - Nemesis
Enemies: Zombies - Bats - Wraith - Skeleton Warriors - Mages - Blue Demons - Water Trolls
Orcs - Green Trolls - Evil Eyes - Red Demons
Items: Magick Missile - Cure Potions - Treasure Chests - Keys - Zappers - Xterminators - Scrolls
Jewels - Crystal Sphere - Gates - Crystal Hour Glasses
Catacomb Armageddon
Characters: Petton Everhail - Nemesis
Enemies: Zombies - Giant Ants - Treants - Bats - Killer Rabbits - Mages - Skeleton Warriors
Vipers - Two-Headed Demons - Wretched Poxes - Evil Eyes - Succubi - Sea Serpents
Items: Magick Missiles - Cure Potions - Treasure Chests - Keys - Zappers - Xterminators
Jewels - Crystal Sphere - Gates - Crystal Hour Glasses - Barriers
Catacomb Apocalypse
Characters: Petton Everhail - Nemesis
Enemies: Wizards - Spectres - Robot Ants - Time Lords - Android Mages - Walking Tanks - Sentry Eyes - Cyborg Demons
Blue Demons - Fishmen - Golden Trolls - Death Squads - Devil Rays - Cyber Poxes - Invisible Horrors
Items: Magick Missiles - Cure Potions - Treasure Chests - Keys - Zappers - Xterminators
Jewels - Crystal Sphere - Gates - Crystal Hour Glasses - Barriers - Time Gate