Back to the Future: The Game
|Back to the Future: The Game|
|Series||Back to the Future|
|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. 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. Deep Silver published the retail PlayStation 3 and Wii versions for Europe on May 4, 2012.
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.
The game opens on May 14, 1986, seven months after the film trilogy ended. It begins with Marty McFly dreaming that he and his friend Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown are outside the Twin Pines Mall preparing to test out Doc's time machine by sending it one minute into the future with Einstein in it, just like in the first film. However, it doesn't return from its one-minute trip and after Marty went to get Doc's notebook, the Twin Pines Mall and Doc suddenly vanish, causing Marty to wake up from his dream. He hadn't seen Doc since he left with his family, and as such, the bank has started to sell away his possessions. Marty rescues Doc's notebook from Biff Tannen by tricking him into playing a guitar in front of a large speaker that knocks him out, and he is surprised by the sudden appearance of a DeLorean time machine outside the laboratory. Einstein is inside the car, along with a recording left by Doc explaining that the machine is programmed to automatically jump through time without him if he's in trouble. The "Last Time Departed" time circuit is blank, but Marty finds a shoe inside the time machine that he tracks down to Edna Strickland, the anti-social elderly sister of Marty's school principal. Marty searches through Edna's newspapers and learns that Doc is stuck in 1931, where he will be killed on June 14 by Irving "Kid" Tannen, Biff Tannen's father.
Marty uses the DeLorean to travel to Hill Valley of 1931, one day before Doc is killed. There he finds Doc in jail, accused for committing arson of Kid Tannen's speakeasy. Doc reveals that the DeLorean is a duplicate of the original one that appeared in 2025 after the first DeLorean was struck by lighting at the end of the second movie. He asks Marty to seek out his younger self, Emmett Brown, who is building a rocket drill that can be used to break into the jail. Marty befriends Emmett, a lanky teenager who is forced to work for his father Judge Brown at the courthouse, and encourages him to follows his dreams of science. Marty also encounters his grandfather, Artie McFly, who is working as Kid Tannen's accountant; Kid Tannen himself; Trixie Trotter, Kid's moll; Detective Parker, future grandfather of Marty's girlfriend, Jennifer; and young Edna Strickland, who is at the time a reporter promoting strong conservative values.
That night, Marty is successful in getting Doc away safely when Kid tries to escape with Doc. However, as a consequence of Marty's encouraging Artie to rat on Kid's gang, Marty starts to fade away, because Artie has been killed by Kid for turning on him. Marty travels back 7 hours, and manages to rescue Artie and Marty and Doc convince him to leave town for a while and seek out "Sylvia", Marty's grandmother, thus assuring Marty's future.
Believing all is well, Doc and Marty return to 1986, but they find the town controlled by the Tannen Crime Family, with Biff having two younger brothers. Marty and Doc manage to get away, and they figure out that Kid didn't go to prison when he was supposed to. Marty and Doc travel to August 25, 1931, the day that Kid is supposed to be arrested. They learn that Trixie, whose testimony is supposed to lead to Kid's arrest, changed her mind because of her new friendship with Artie, who is still targeted by Kid. Marty manages to convince Trixie to change her mind again, which leads to Kid's arrest, with some help from Artie, Emmett, Edna, and Detective Parker.
Marty and Doc return to 1986, unaware that their actions in 1931 have led to a romance between Emmett and Edna. 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" and his wife. Everyone else in Hill Valley has also changed: Jennifer is goth and hates Marty for being a "square", Jennifer's father is a serious police officer instead of a shoe salesman, Biff has been brainwashed into docility, Marty's parents George and Lorraine constantly fight, and Einstein is a stray.
Marty learns that this alternate timeline was caused by Edna's influence on Emmett. The pair have been married for years, and Edna directed Emmett's genius into technology designed to impose strong moral values and brainwash people via a "Citizen Plus" program. After breaking enough rules to allow him to meet Citizen Brown, Marty convinces Brown that his life has a different calling and that Edna has been manipulating him. Edna captures the duo and tries to brainwash them, but they escape with some help from Jennifer and George. After Brown repairs the DeLorean using Doc's notes, he and Marty travel back to August 26, 1931 to fix things.
The damaged DeLorean malfunctions, resulting in their arriving two months after Marty's previous departure, on October 12, when Emmett and Edna's relationship has progressed further. Marty is forced to take more drastic measures to destroy Emmett and Edna's relationship, which gives Brown second thoughts after learning that Edna ends up alone and unhappy in her original timeline. When Marty insists on continuing, Brown criticizes him for not taking his or Edna's feelings into account, and leaves in the DeLorean. With Trixie's help, Marty successfully breaks Edna and Emmett up, but the plan works too well and Emmett angrily catches on to Marty's manipulations. After a heated confrontation where Marty confesses his real name, Emmett decides to follow his own mind from then on, and that mind is on science. He and Marty reconcile after Emmett hears a lighting strike, and Marty helps Emmett prepare a new project for the Hill Valley Science Expo.
At the Expo, Emmett's demonstration is almost sabotaged by Brown and Edna, who are now working together and hope to turn Emmett away from science forever; Brown is convinced that science is what ruined his life. Marty foils them, and gives evidence to Detective Parker that Edna was the speakeasy arsonist but she escapes before Detective Parker can arrest her. Marty also enables a reconciliation between Emmett and his father, with Judge Brown now fully supporting Emmett's career in science. When Brown rejects Edna's further plotting, she steals the DeLorean from him and tries to run Marty over with Detective Parker in pursuit, but Brown pushes Marty out of the way and takes the hit. While dying, Brown tells Marty his hope for the future that Marty described, and is then erased from the timeline. After the Expo is over, Marty gives Emmett a message to be opened in the future and the pair say their goodbyes. As soon as Emmett leaves, another DeLorean (either the restored original or another version of the one Marty has been using) shortly arrives, bringing Doc, who is restored to his normal self. However, as they greet each other, the town of Hill Valley disappears around them.
On meeting Marty's great-grandfather William McFly (voiced by Michael J. Fox), they learn that Hill Valley burned down shortly after its founding in 1876. Nearby they find a crazed elderly Edna who has been living alone, and they figure out that she traveled back in time and caused the town fire in her attempt to burn down a saloon that belongs to Beauregard Tannen. Marty and Doc travel to July 17, 1876, where they stop young Edna from burning the saloon and return her to 1931 after using flux synchronization modes to gain control of her DeLorean. Edna crashes in front of the police station and is arrested and the alternate time-unstable DeLorean used by Edna then disappears from existence. As Marty and Doc prepare to leave in their own DeLorean, Marty discovers that Artie and Trixie have gotten married and worries that he may never be born. However, Marty notices that he's not fading from existence and discovers that Trixie's real name is Sylvia.
Marty and Doc return to 1986, where everything seems to be back to normal, but subtle changes have occurred due to their interference. Doc now lives in 1986 with his wife and sons; Edna and Kid Tannen married after meeting in jail, making her Biff's step-mother, and they all have reformed and have a happier life. 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, each with a different future version of Marty driving them. They approach Marty and Doc and insist they come to help assure that 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 and they depart to an unknown timeline in their own time machine.
|"It's About Time"||PC/OS X: December 22, 2010
PSN: February 15, 2011
iOS: February 17, 2011
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.
|"Get Tannen!"||PC/OS X: February 16, 2011
PSN: March 29, 2011
iOS: April 20, 2011
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.
|"Citizen Brown"||PC/OS X: March 29, 2011
PSN: May 3, 2011
iOS: May 26, 2011
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.
|"Double Visions"||PC/OS X: April 29, 2011
PSN: June 7, 2011
iOS: June 2, 2011
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.
|"Outatime"||PC/OS X: June 23, 2011
PSN: July 26, 2011
iOS: July 21, 2011
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.
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. 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.
The development team sought input from fans on various scenarios by means of an online survey and brought in trilogy co-creator, co-writer and co-producer Bob Gale as story consultant. 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. Telltale Games found adhering to the films' established timelines to be one of the greatest challenges regarding the development of the script. Many ideas had to be scrapped due to conflicts that would have caused paradoxes with the stories of the films. Gale stated that although the game is not part of the series canon, it is possible that it could take place in alternate timelines.
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. 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. 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.
As Fox was unavailable to reprise his role as Marty for the game, newcomer A.J. Locascio voiced the character instead, 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. 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. Lloyd returned to voice Doc Brown and began his first recording session for the game in late September 2010. Later, Claudia Wells joined the cast, reprising her role as Jennifer Parker from the first film. Kid Beyond provides the voice for Biff Tannen in place of actor Tom Wilson, and James Arnold Taylor as the younger Emmett. 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.
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. 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. 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. A promotional offer was made on Telltale's web site to download a free copy as well. Via this promotion, however, the first episode began distribution on February 16, 2011. As of April 2011, Telltale offered the first episode for free for anyone with a registered account at their website. 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.
|"It's About Time"||80.32%||74/100|
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. 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." 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." 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." 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. 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. Review aggregator Metacritic assigned the episode an average review score of 74/100.
Official Nintendo Magazine gave the Wii version of the game 78%.
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Free episodes distribution begins in February, as the second episode releases.
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