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
Producer(s) Brett Tosti
Designer(s) Michael Stemmle
Andy Hartzell
Jonathan Straw
Artist(s) Ryan Jones
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

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.


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]


Episode 1[edit]

The game opens on May 14, 1986, seven months after the film trilogy ended. It begins with Martin Seamus “Marty” McFly dreaming that he and his friend Dr. Emmett Lathrop "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, Doc suddenly vanishes and the Twin Pines Mall sign changes to Lone Pine Mall, causing Marty to wake up from his dream.

Marty hasn't seen Doc ever 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 Howard 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 tape recorder with a message 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 and dog-hating elderly sister of Marty's school principal, Gerald Strickland. She lives alone with some cats in an empty apartment and always spends her time yelling a people with her bullhorn. Marty distracts Edna with a radiator and searches through her newspapers and uses her binoculars to look at the building across the street that shows the year 1932 where an illegal speakeasy used to be and learns that Doc is stuck in 1931, where he will be killed on June 14 by Irving "Kid" Tannen, Biff Tannen's father. He is then instantly kicked out after accidentally making a mess.

Marty uses the DeLorean to travel to Hill Valley of 1931, one day before Doc is killed, appearing right in the middle of a police chase. After getting out of it, he hides the car behind a large sign. He finds Doc in jail, accused for committing arson of Kid Tannen's speakeasy. Doc reveals (if the player asks him) 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 Lathrop 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. Along the way, Marty also encounters his grandfather, Arthur “Artie” McFly, who is working as Kid Tannen's accountant; Kid Tannen himself and his goons: Matches, Cue Ball, and Zane; Trixie Trotter, Kid's moll; Officer Daniel J. “Danny” Parker, future grandfather of Marty's girlfriend, Jennifer; and young Edna Strickland, who is at the time a reporter promoting strong conservative values.

Marty first helps Emmett deliver a subpoena to Artie with some help from Einstein, Doc's knowledge, Artie's hat, and the same tape recorder that Marty found in the DeLorean. After this, he manipulates Edna into delivering the required alcohol needed to power the rocket drill. That night, Marty is successful in getting Doc away safely when Kid tries to escape with Doc, with the help of a rocket-powered bicycle that sends them flying and crashing right next to the area where the DeLorean is hidden. Before they can leave, 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 due to that subpoena that he and Emmett gave him.

Episode 2[edit]

After escaping from Officer Parker, Marty travels back 7 hours and manages to rescue Artie. Then after seeing Doc and his counterpart, he speeds forward at the right timing as his counterpart travels 7 hours back and picks up Doc. Marty and Doc convince Artie 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, and Doc departs shortly to stop the bank from selling his things. Marty proceeds to return to his normal life, but he finds the town controlled by the Tannen Crime Family, with Biff having two younger brothers named Cliff and Riff and Marty is said to have been run out of town. Marty manages to get away from them by tricking them into hitting a bug electrocuter (stealing a gun-like lighter from them in the process), but Kid then tries to shoot him but is thwarted by Doc, who pushes Kid's limo out of the way with the DeLorean. They learned that Kid didn't go to prison when he was supposed to since Artie never actually did return to town to help with that.

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. Officer Parker, who was supposed to arrest Kid, isn't doing his job due to Marty and Doc's interference. Additionally, Emmett is now performing experiments in public since, according to Doc, he was supposed to see "Frankenstein". Marty manages to convince Trixie to change her mind again by making her believe that Kid went back on his deal and uses her singing to talk some sense into Parker. He then battles Kid (with the help of a hooch barrel and the same lighter he took from 1986) and eventually leads to his arrest, with some help from Doc, Artie, Emmett, Edna, Officer Parker (who later became Detective Parker), and Emmett's rocket car. Marty and Doc return to 1986, unaware that their actions in 1931 have led to a romance between Emmett and Edna.

Episode 3[edit]

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 and is severely damaged. Everyone else in Hill Valley has also changed: Jennifer is a goth, rock and roll loving rebel teen and hates Marty for being a "square" and has a new boyfriend named Leech; Jennifer's father is a serious police officer instead of a shoe salesman; Biff has been brainwashed into docility with a wristwatch; Marty's parents George and Lorraine constantly fight and their personalities are just like in the beginning of the first movie; and Einstein is a stray.

Marty speaks with his parents, Jennifer, and Biff and learns that this alternate timeline was caused by Edna's influence on Emmett. The pair has 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, as Emmett never saw "Frankenstein".

After breaking enough rules (that involves getting a booze flask from his mother, befriending Einstein, and winning back Jennifer's love through a guitar playing contest against Leech) to allow him to meet Citizen Brown, Marty convinces Brown that his life has a different calling and that Edna has been manipulating him and proves it by showing him a fish tank, a movie ticket (for "Frankenstein"), a picture of Einstein, a picture of him and his father, the 1931 newspaper, and his true self in the background of a photograph. When this doesn't convince him, Marty decides to get proof. Overhearing this, Edna brainwashes Biff into attacking Marty’s father and taking his videotapes of the hidden conversations by citizens of Hill Valley. Using George's security cameras, they found out that Biff was brainwashed from the wristwatch that showed X-11. Marty uses the same technique to have Biff fall into the Decycling Bin. Marty follows Biff down and ends up in Edna’s hideout, which is revealed to be Kid's old speakeasy and where she keeps all the illegal things, including Einstein. Edna, again, brainwashes Biff into restraining Marty but with the help of several items in the room (girl magazines, booze, Einstein, car license plates, cigars), snaps out of it and passes out. Edna tells Marty that she already erased the videotapes. Citizen Brown arrives and sternly tells Edna to go home. After releasing his anger and frustration, Citizen Brown helps Marty repair the time machine. Then Biff wakes up, remembering that Edna and Marty used him, attacks Marty but ends up being knocked out again. Marty rescues Einstein and goes to Citizen Brown’s office to meet him, only to see Edna on the chair and Citizen Brown on the monitors. Marty ends up getting taken away to same mind control room as Citizen Brown.

Episode 4[edit]

Edna has captured the duo and tries to brainwash them, but they escape with some help from Jennifer and George. They separated; Marty will wait for Brown in the town square as Brown makes his way to his secret lab near Clayton Ravine, which was named after Clara Clayton and happens to be Doc’s wife in Marty’s timeline. 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 and begun to feel sympathy for her. When Marty insists on continuing, Brown criticizes him for not taking his or Edna's feelings into account, and leaves in the DeLorean, ending their long-lasting friendship (but only temporally since this is Doc's alternate self).

After Marty finds that Edna and Trixie dislike each other, he helps Edna get Trixie fired from her job in order to get her to help him get Edna to break up with Emmett. Marty gets a fake diamond, some furs, and Emmett's photo album to help Trixie play out her part. They successfully break Edna and Emmett up by ageing Emmett's stain-removing cleanser with the malfunctioning DeLorean (before Brown left) and getting his mind map to say that he's a criminal, but the plan worked a bit 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 that somehow restores his original personality, and Marty helps Emmett prepare a new project for the Hill Valley Science Expo (after a near death accident). Meanwhile, Brown finds and comforts Edna, who is really heartbroken after her break-up with Emmett. She tells Brown about Marty (who used a different name in 1931) and they drive off togather.

Episode 5[edit]

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. Edna gets Detective Parker to shut down Emmett's booth and also tries to get him to arrest Marty, having been told by Brown that he was the one responsible for destroying her and Emmett's friendship. Parker instead lets him go, believing that Edna is crazy, but isn't able to do anything about it with Edna around. Marty uses a recording device, a phone booth, and a futuristic telephone in one of the exhibits to give evidence to Parker that Edna was the speakeasy arsonist and has framed Doc for the whole thing, but she escapes before Parker can arrest her.

With them gone, Emmett's booth is reopened (in which the barricades around it had disappeared). Marty also rescues Emmett from Brown in another exhibit and enables 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 says their goodbyes. As soon as Emmett leaves, another DeLorean (either the restored original of the duplicate or another version of the one Marty has been using) shortly arrives, bringing Doc, who is restored to his normal self (which some changes from Marty’s Doc, but restoring their friendship). However, as they greet each other, the town of Hill Valley disappears around them, learning that Edna went into the far past and changed Hill Valley.

On meeting Marty's great-grandfather William “Willie” 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 now calls herself "Mary Pickford" a.k.a. "Scary Mary" and has been living alone, and her DeLorean is badly burnt and scrapped and some of its parts are used for a tripwire alarm. They use Doc's "hypnotic spell" (while using the same recording device from earlier, a cactus with a broken arm , the burned-out DeLorean, the tripwire alarm, a mop, Edna's hat, an outhouse, a saloon sign, and a burning stick to help play back her past) to 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 B. Tannen, Biff's great-great grandfather. She then tries to shoot them for making her do all this but is stopped by William, allowing the duo to escape.

Marty and Doc travel to July 17, 1876, where they attempt to stop young Edna from burning the saloon. While Doc faces a standoff between Edna and Beauregard, Marty springs a trap that takes them both out, but Edna escapes. The duo chases after Edna and returns her to 1931 after using three flux synchronization modes to gain control of her DeLorean. Edna crashes in front of the police station and is arrested by Detective Parker 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 Miskin, revealing that she is Marty's grandmother.

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, meaning that the estate sale has cease to exist. 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 (one normal, another blue, and the third black) 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 leaves 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.


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

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.


  • 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[11]
PSN: March 29, 2011[12]
iOS: April 20, 2011[13]

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.


  • 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[14]
PSN: May 3, 2011[15]
iOS: May 26, 2011[16]

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.


  • 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[17]
PSN: June 7, 2011[18]
iOS: June 2, 2011[19]

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.


  • 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[20]
PSN: July 26, 2011[21]
iOS: July 21, 2011[21]

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.


  • 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


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.[22][23] 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.[24]

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[25] and brought in trilogy co-creator, co-writer and co-producer Bob Gale as story consultant.[26][27] 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.[28] Telltale Games found adhering to the films' established timelines to be one of the greatest challenges regarding the development of the script.[29] Many ideas had to be scrapped due to conflicts that would have caused paradoxes with the stories of the films.[29] Gale stated that although the game is not part of the series canon,[28][30][31] it is possible that it could take place in alternate timelines.[32]

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.[27] 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.[33] 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.[33]

As Fox was unavailable to reprise his role as Marty for the game, newcomer A.J. Locascio voiced the character instead,[34] 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][20][35] 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.[34] Lloyd returned to voice Doc Brown and began his first recording session for the game in late September 2010.[36] Later, Claudia Wells joined the cast, reprising her role as Jennifer Parker from the first film.[37] Kid Beyond provides the voice for Biff Tannen in place of actor Tom Wilson,[38] and James Arnold Taylor as the younger Emmett.[39] 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.


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.[40][41] 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.[42][43] 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.[44] A promotional offer was made on Telltale's web site to download a free copy as well.[45] Via this promotion, however, the first episode began distribution on February 16, 2011.[46] As of April 2011, Telltale offered the first episode for free for anyone with a registered account at their website.[47] 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.[48][49]


Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
"It's About Time" 80.32%[50] 74/100[51]
"Get Tannen!" 76.86%[52] 74/100[53]
"Citizen Brown" 75.57%[54] 71/100[55]
"Double Visions" 73.64%[56] 71/100[57]
"Outatime" 78.92%[58] 75/100[59]

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.[60] 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."[61] 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."[62] 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."[63] 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.[64] 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.[60][61][63][64] Review aggregator Metacritic assigned the episode an average review score of 74/100.[51]

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

As of February 2011 Back to the Future: The Game is Telltale's most successful franchise.[65]


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