Last December, we here at Pixelated Geek took a first look at the first episode of Telltale Games’ five-part time-traveling point-and-click adventure series, Back to the Future: The Game. A welcome entry to an already stellar film trilogy, Back to the Future: The Game’s premiere episode was not only entertaining, but also helped pave the way for an enjoyable, if a bit too easy, five episode trip through time.
Now, one year later, not only has the series come to a close with its fifth episode, “Outatime,” but Telltale has also released a retail version for both PlayStation 3 and Wii consoles. And, in honor of its release, we take a look, not only at the retail release, but also Marty and Doc’s interactive adventure through time as a whole.
And let me tell you; Back to the Future fans will want to give it a look.
When Doc Brown’s old time-traveling DeLorean shows up after vanishing following the end of Back to the Future, Part III, it’s up to Marty McFly to travel back to 1931 in order to save him from a grizzly death at the hands of mobster Kid Tannen. However, when Marty’s mission and his reunion with Doc results in several drastic changes to the established timeline, Marty must figure out a way to not only restore his version of 1986 but also get a young Doc back on his destined path of science.
As I mentioned in my original review of the series’ first episode, “It’s About Time,” Telltale’s greatest strength has always been its witty and humorous storylines. With Back to the Future: The Game, the biggest challenge is adapting an already established fictional universe to a different format, something that Telltale’s writers really manage to pull off thanks to Back to the Future co-creator Bob Gale serving as a story consultant for the series.
While the game does feature the Tannen and McFly families, along with other important minor characters, such as Edna Stickland, older sister of Marty’s strict high school principal, and Danny Parker, grandfather of Marty’s girlfriend and the police officer responsible for busting Kid Tannen in the original timeline, Back to the Future: The Game‘s main focus is the relationship between Marty and Doc. However, rather than just rehash the characters’ relationship from the original films, Telltale really takes the opportunity to turn that relationship on its head.
During the course of the series, Marty not only encounters the original version of Doc Brown, but also his younger 1931 counterpart and a version of Doc from an alternate timeline. Through the use of different versions of Doc, Telltale’s writers really give the player a different and refreshing look at his character as a whole and also puts him at odds with Marty during certain points in the game.
That isn’t to say the game’s story is perfect, with a few minor plotholes and a few annoying and insignificant characters (I’m looking at you, Ernest). However, with a wealth of callbacks and inside jokes referencing the films, as well as a team of writers that understand what made the original films interesting, the plot of Back to the Future: The Game is probably its most enjoyable aspect.
Unlike previous attempts at Back to the Future games, which included several nonsensical gameplay elements, Telltale Games has crafted Back to the Future: The Game into what is probably the most logical choice: a point-and-click adventure game in which players must interact with other characters and solve puzzles in order to advance the plot. Sadly, the gameplay leaves a little to be desired.
While the game is actually quite enjoyable, the biggest problem with the gameplay is its difficulty. Or lack thereof. By adventure game standards, even those made by Telltale, Back to the Future: The Game is a bit on the easy side, with several puzzles that tend towards a little too obvious. Adventure game fans looking for a bit of a challenge might be a bit put off by the game’s simplicity, but there are still a few entertaining puzzles here and there, and the difficulty does tend to rise at least a little bit over the course of the game.
Furthermore, while interaction and puzzle solving are key elements of the game, exploration is sadly not a big part. Available areas of investigation are rather limited, with only a small handful of locations in each episode. Despite a few flaws in gameplay design, the simplistic puzzles and the somewhat limited exploration element don’t take away from the fun too much. A lot of care went into making this game as entertaining as possible and what little exploration there is manages to yield some entertaining results due to witty dialog options and amusing inside jokes and referential gags littered about the place.
With five full episodes, which run about two to four hours each, Back to the Future: The Game will definitely keep Back to the Future fans entertained for a good amount of time. While there sadly isn’t an option to drive the DeLorean, which is a real shame, the game is engaging enough despite the relative ease.
Compared to the original digital release of Back to the Future: The Game, the retail release hasn’t really changed much. Unfortunately, that means a few glitches and lipsyncing issues, as mentioned in the earlier reviews, are still present. In addition, the PS3 version of the game tends to have a few moments where the game slows down for a second.
On a visual side, the game does look as crisp as ever. While the game isn’t a technical marvel graphically, the cartoonish visual design and attention to detail that went into recreating 1986 Hill Valley and crafting a 1931 version of the town will be quite appreciated by fans of the original film series.
Most of the series’ original cast did not return for the game, but Telltale Games did managed to get Christopher Lloyd to reprise his role as Doc Brown. Michael J. Fox appears in a cameo but did not return to voice Marty. Instead, newcomer AJ LoCascio delivers a very convincing rendition of Marty virtually indistinguishable from Fox’s original performance. Claudia Wells’ return to the role of Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer Parker, is also a much welcome treat.
The rest of the cast, while not as stellar as the original film cast, still manages to deliver enjoyable performance, minus a few exceptions (again, I’m looking at you, Ernest). In addition, composer Jared Emerson-Johnson really help evoke the feeling of the original films, with musical cues and leitmotifs taken directly from the original film score.
Not as polished as it could be, especially after being released several months after the series’ digital release, the retail edition of Back to the Future: The Game is still something BttF fans should definitely look into. Sadly, unlike the Collector’s Edition DVD that came with the PC version of the game, which included commentaries and behind the scenes features, the retail version for the PS3 and Wii is a rather barebones collection, consisting of just the five episodes themselves.
Still, for BttF fans looking for a worthy continuation to the original film series, Back to the Future: The Game. While the game is meant more for BttF fans, as opposed to more experienced adventure game fans, it is still a fun game. While the PC version is probably the way to go due to the Collector’s Edition DVD, the PS3 and Wii versions of the game are still worth a purchase.
Back to the Future: The Game is available for the PS3 and Wii for $19.99. A copy of the game was provided for free for review purposes.