Back to the Future: The Game

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For other Back to the Future games, see List of Back to the Future video games.
Back to the Future: The Game
Back to the Future The Game.PNG
Developer(s) Telltale Games
Publisher(s) Telltale Games
Distributor(s)
Producer(s) Brett Tosti
Designer(s) Michael Stemmle
Andy Hartzell
Jonathan Straw
Artist(s) Derek Sakai
Composer(s) Jared Emerson-Johnson
Series Back to the Future
Engine Telltale Tool
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, iOS, Wii
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Graphic adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Download, Blu-ray Disc, Wii Optical Disc

Back to the Future: The Game is an episodic graphic adventure based on the Back to the Future film franchise. The game was developed by Telltale Games as part of a licensing deal with Universal Pictures. Bob Gale, co-creator, co-writer and co-producer of the film trilogy, assisted Telltale in writing the game's story. Original actors Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd allowed the developers to use their likenesses in the game for the lead characters Marty McFly and Doc Brown, respectively. Lloyd also provides the voice for Doc, while A.J. Locascio plays the role of Marty; Fox later appeared to voice two cameo roles in the final episode, reprising his role as future versions of Marty McFly in addition of playing his forefather William.[5] The game is split up into five episodes available on multiple gaming platforms, the first episode released for Microsoft Windows and OS X on December 22, 2010. PlayStation 3 and iOS versions followed on February 2011. Episodes 2 through 5 were released throughout February to June 2011, with the final episode released on June 23, 2011. Telltale published the series as retail products for the PlayStation 3 and Wii consoles for North America.[6] Deep Silver published the retail PlayStation 3 and Wii versions for Europe on May 4, 2012.

Gameplay[edit]

Back to the Future: The Game is a graphic adventure played from a third-person perspective. The player controls Marty to explore the 3D environments using either the keyboard, mouse or game controller to move around. The player can have Marty examine objects, talk to non-player characters (initiating dialog through conversation trees), and perform specific actions in order to solve puzzles and progress the game. Some items can be picked up and stored in Marty's inventory, and then can be used later to interact with other characters or objects. The game provides a list of current goals for the player to complete to advance the game. The player can access a hint system, revealing one clue at a time from a number of cryptic clues for how to solve a specific puzzle.[7][8]

Plot[edit]

The game is set seven months after the film trilogy, May 14, 1986. Marty McFly has not seen his friend Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown since he left with his family, and as such, the bank has started to sell away his laboratory and possessions. After rescuing Doc's notebook describing time travel technology from Biff Tannen, Marty is surprised by the appearance of a DeLorean time machine outside the laboratory. A recording left by Doc in the car explains that the machine would return to Marty's present should the Doc be in trouble. Following clues, Marty locates the Doc stuck in time on June 14, 1931, where, if not rescued, he would be killed by Irving "Kid" Tannen (Biff's father) for committing arson of Kid's speakeasy.

Marty uses the DeLorean to travel to Hill Valley of 1931, one day before Doc is killed. There he finds Doc in jail, and meets his younger version Emmett, a lanky teenager that wants to follow his dreams of science but is forced to work for his father at the courthouse. He not only has a run-in with Kid Tannen, but also encounters his grandfather Artie McFly working as Kid Tannen's accountant, Trixie, Kid's moll that Artie has a crush on, and the young Edna Strickland, the sister of Marty's future school principal and currently a reporter with a strong moral fiber.

Marty's first attempt to free Doc, requiring Artie to rat on Kid's gang, seems to go well until Marty finds himself disappearing from time, as Artie would be murdered shortly by Kid for turning on him. Marty travels back 7 hours to amend Marty's instructions to Artie to have him leave town, assuring Marty's future. Believing all is well, Doc and Marty return to the present, but find it run by the Tannen Crime Family. Marty and Doc realize that Artie never returned to town to testify, following their instructions too well. Once again they return to 1931, this time to August 25,(the day Tannen was supposed to be arrested) and assure that Kid Tannen is arrested on the strength of Artie's testimony. Confident the present is repaired, Marty and Doc return to the present, unaware that their actions have led to a romance between Emmett and Edna, where she encourages the young man's future in science, albeit for her own ends. On arriving in the present, Doc and Einstein suddenly disappear and the DeLorean crashes outside of the now-walled, totalitarian Hill Valley run by "Citizen Brown". Realizing this is not the corrected timeline, Marty finds that Edna's influence directed Emmett's genius into technology designed to uphold strong moral values. Marty convinces Brown that he had a different calling, and after effecting repairs to the DeLorean using Doc's notes, they both return to 1931.

However, they end up arriving 2 months after Marty's previous departure, October 12 instead of August 26, and Marty is forced to take more significant measures to disrupt the budding relationship, assuring that Emmett will display his flying car technology at the Hill Valley Science Expo. Despite his success, Brown criticizes Marty for not taking any of Edna's or Brown's feelings into account, and storms off. Brown and Edna later meet, and together attempt to disrupt Emmett's demonstration at the Expo, but Marty is able to foil it after proving that Edna was responsible for the speakeasy arsons. This also inadvertently leads to Emmett and his father coming to a heartwarming understanding with Emmett's father fully supporting Emmett's science career. Brown comes to see the light on Marty's version of the future, and rejects Edna's further plotting; she steals the DeLorean and tries to run over Marty, but Brown pushes Marty out of the way and takes the hit. While dying, this alternative Brown is erased from the timeline. Thanks to a message given to Emmett by Marty to be read in the far future, Doc, restored to his normal self, shortly appears in another DeLorean. However, as they greet each other, the town of Hill Valley disappears around them.

On meeting Marty's great-grandfather William (Voiced by Michael J. Fox), they learn Hill Valley was burned down shortly after its founding in 1876. Nearby they discover a crazed elderly Edna, and realize she was responsible for the town fire. Marty and Doc travel to July 17, 1876 to prevent her from burning down the town, and then return her to 1931, where she is arrested and placed in jail alongside Kid Tannen; the time-unstable first DeLorean soon disappears. As Marty and Doc prepare to leave in the second DeLorean, Marty discovers that Artie and Trixie have now gotten engaged, and fears he will never be born if Artie doesn't marry his eventual grandmother Sylvia. However, he soon discovers that Sylvia and Trixie are the same person, and that Trixie was just her stage name.

Back in 1986, everything seems to be as Marty left it, but subtle changes have occurred due to their interference. Doc now has part-time residence in 1986 with his wife Clara, and the sale of his property is now being perpetrated by the two of them. Edna and Kid Tannen married after meeting in jail, making her Biff's step-mother. Finally, Doc reveals why he had disappeared for so long: he was assembling a history of the McFly family in Hill Valley as a graduation present for Marty.

Suddenly, three separate DeLoreans appear,(one normal colored, another painted blue, and the third painted black) each with a different future version of Marty driving them. They approach Marty and Doc and insist they come to help assure their respective futures occur as they are supposed to. The pair leave the Marties arguing with each other, saying the future can wait until after they've enjoyed the present for a while.

A post-credits "To Be Continued" title card suggests a future sequel.

Episodes[edit]

Episode Release date
"It's About Time" PC/OS X: December 22, 2010[9]
PSN: February 15, 2011[10]
iOS: February 17, 2011[11]

The DeLorean, thought to be destroyed, reappears, and Marty travels to the year 1931 to rescue a time-stranded Doc Brown, who has been accused of burning down a speakeasy and put in jail. To break him out, Marty must work with Doc's younger self to build a rocket drill (in the process, Marty gives a subpoena to his grandfather Arthur to arrest Biff's father Kid Tannen for his wrongdoings). Doc is suddenly moved to another jail, so Marty races after him on a rocket powered bicycle and frees him, but as they prepare to go back to 1986, Marty's hand suddenly begins to disappear.

Notes:

  • Directed by Dennis Lenart
  • Designed by Michael Stemmle, Andy Hartzell, Dave Grossman and Jonathan Straw
  • Written by Michael Stemmle and Andy Hartzell
  • The whole episode can be downloaded for free on Telltale Games' website as from April 2011
  • It is currently available as a free-to-play download on the Playstation Store.
"Get Tannen!" PC/OS X: February 16, 2011[12]
PSN: March 29, 2011[13]
iOS: April 20, 2011[14]

Doc realizes from a newspaper that Marty's grandfather will be killed, explaining why Marty is disappearing, and Marty goes off to save him, and does so, but back in 1986, he finds that Biff has two brothers now and are bullying everyone in the town. Marty then goes back to the day Kid would be arrested to fix the timeline.

Notes:

  • Directed by Peter Tsaykel
  • Designed by Mike Stemmle, Andy Hartzell and Jonathan Straw
  • Written by Michael Stemmle and Andy Hartzell
"Citizen Brown" PC/OS X: March 29, 2011[15]
PSN: May 3, 2011[16]
iOS: May 26, 2011[17]

Returning to 1986, Marty finds that the timeline has been changed, turning Hill Valley into a brainwashed society run by an alternate version of Doc.

Notes:

  • Directed by Eric Parsons
  • Designed by Jonathan Straw and Andy Hartzell
  • Written by Jonathan Straw, Michael Stemmle and Andy Hartzell
"Double Visions" PC/OS X: April 29, 2011[18]
PSN: June 7, 2011[19]
iOS: June 2, 2011[20]

Marty's gotten into a sticky situation as he is dealing with the consequences of his and Doc's actions back in 1930's Hill Valley, so it's going to take some crafty thinking for him to get out of this mess and back in time to fix the altered timeline.

Notes:

  • Directed by Dave Grossman
  • Designed by Michael Stemmle and Andy Hartzell
  • Written by Michael Stemmle and Andy Hartzell
"Outatime" PC/OS X: June 23, 2011[21]
PSN: July 26, 2011[22]
iOS: July 21, 2011[22]

Marty discovers that Edna has burned down Hill Valley as a result of his actions in 1931. Doc and Marty must stop Edna from destroying Hill Valley to fix their timeline.

Notes:

  • Directed by Dennis Lenart
  • Designed by Michael Stemmle and Andy Hartzell
  • Written by Michael Stemmle and Andy Hartzell
  • Features Michael J. Fox's role as William McFly and Future Marty

Development[edit]

Back to the Future: The Game was announced by developer Telltale Games in early June 2010, as part of a licensing deal to create video games based on Universal Pictures' Back to the Future and Jurassic Park film series.[23][24] The title is split up into five episodes and is now available for Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii (as a single retail release) and the iOS.[25]

An in-development screenshot showing the simple user interface and the character designs for Marty McFly and Doc Brown. Both Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd allowed the developers to use their likenesses within the game.

The development team sought input from fans on various scenarios by means of an online survey[26] and brought in trilogy co-creator, co-writer and co-producer Bob Gale as story consultant.[27][28] Several concepts he and director Robert Zemeckis had originally conceived for Part II, such as the exploration of the Prohibition era and Doc's family history, were reworked into the game.[29] Telltale Games found adhering to the films' established timelines to be one of the greatest challenges regarding the development of the script.[30] Many ideas had to be scrapped due to conflicts that would have caused paradoxes with the stories of the films.[30] Gale stated that although the game is not part of the series canon,[29][31][32] it is possible that it could take place in alternate timelines.[33]

In September 2010, the team revealed the first piece of concept art for the protagonists, created by artist Ryan Jones and based on actors Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, who allowed their likenesses to be used for the in-game characters.[28] Season designer and writer Michael Stemmle emphasized that the game's graphics would take a less realistic and more stylized approach while trying to stay true to the feel of the trilogy.[34] The puzzles were designed to rely on applying items in the inventory to characters and objects as the developers did not think of Marty as a protagonist that would build a gadget from various parts.[34]

As Fox was unavailable to reprise his role as Marty for the game, newcomer A.J. Locascio voiced the character instead,[35] though Fox later provided voice work for Marty's great grandfather William in the fifth and final episode of the game, as well as for the three futuristic versions of Marty who appear in the game's final cutscene.[5][21][36] Locascio was able to get the part when his audition sample ended up in the email inbox of voice director Julian Kwasneski, and managed to impress both Gale and Lloyd with how closely it resembled the sound of Fox's voice during the time the trilogy was filmed.[35] Lloyd returned to voice Doc Brown and began his first recording session for the game in late September 2010.[37] Later, Claudia Wells joined the cast, reprising her role as Jennifer Parker from the first film.[38] Kid Beyond provides the voice for Biff Tannen in place of actor Tom Wilson,[39] and James Arnold Taylor as the younger Emmett.[40] Though the game features other returning characters including George and Lorraine McFly, voicework for these characters are provided by a variety of available voice actors in the Bay Area.

Promotion[edit]

Telltale Games promoted the series at the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle by bringing along a replica of the time machine from the films.

To promote the title, Telltale brought a replica of the DeLorean time machine as part of their booth display at the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo which occurred shortly after the game's announcement.[41][42] Prior to the game's release, Telltale Games published their first Facebook game, Back to the Future: Blitz Through Time, with mechanics similar to Bejeweled Blitz, to tie in with the episodic series.[43][44] It has been taken down as of 2012.

A voucher for a free copy of the first episode of the series was included in the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release of the Back to the Future trilogy on October 26, 2010.[45] A promotional offer was made on Telltale's web site to download a free copy as well.[46] Via this promotion, however, the first episode began distribution on February 16, 2011.[47] As of April 2011, Telltale offered the first episode for free for anyone with a registered account at their website.[48] As a pre-order bonus, Telltale offered buyers a free copy of Puzzle Agent, access to a pre-release insider forum on their web site, and stated that they would donate one dollar to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research for each pre-order.[49][50]

Reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
"It's About Time" 80.32%[51] 74/100[52]
"Get Tannen!" 76.86%[53] 74/100[54]
"Citizen Brown" 75.57%[55] 71/100[56]
"Double Visions" 73.64%[57] 71/100[58]
"Outatime" 78.92%[59] 75/100[60]

Back to the Future: The Game received generally positive reviews. The first episode, "It's About Time", was praised by several reviewers as an effective start to the series. IGN's Greg Miller gave the episode a score of 8.5/10, writing, "it's a movie-inspired game that doesn't suck. Instead, it pushes the characters in interesting directions and whips up a good story." Miller praised Telltale Games for recreating the Back to the Future universe with attention to detail and for the iteration's witty dialogue.[61] Nathan Meunier of GameSpot gave the episode a 7.5/10 score, saying the series "shows a lot of promise with its debut installment". The review added that "The entertaining story that follows is enhanced by believable character interactions, imbuing the adventure with a great sense of authenticity." Meunier did note that the installment was "surprisingly light on challenge and content."[62] Ben PerLee from GameZone summarized his praise of the game by saying it is a "feel good cinematic experience that any fan of Back to the Future will want to check out, and everyone else would do well to check it out."[63] PALGN gave the installment a 7/10, saying that fans of the films "will find plenty to love with all of the callbacks and nostalgic moments", but calling the game's pace slow and the 1930s setting uninspiring. The review concluded, "Fans will delight in the more nostalgic and clever moments of 'It's About Time', but it's a short, easy and somewhat bland introduction to the series, which we hope still has time to get a lot better."[64] In a 2/5 stars review, The Escapist said the first episode of the game "doesn't quite get the tone [of the films] right and fails to offer up much compelling gameplay." The reviewer called the setting, situations, and characters "bland", further describing the characters as "cardboard nobodies", and did not review the rest of the series.[65] The consensus among critics was that the voice acting was exceptional, with particular praise directed at A.J. Locascio's impersonation of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly. Most reviewers were critical of the episode's puzzles as being too simplistic and easy.[61][62][64][65] Review aggregator Metacritic assigned the episode an average review score of 74/100.[52]

Official Nintendo Magazine gave the Wii version of the game 78%.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]