“Back to the Future: The Game” Lives Up to the Movie Saga

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Another guest review from GeekTeen — and future game design scholar John Ceceri:

If you’ve been waiting for another entry in the Back to the Future movie saga, chances are you’ll have to keep hoping. But in the meantime, Back to the Future: The Game by TellTale Games of Sam & Max fame can keep you entertained and satisfied until someone grabs a DeLorean to bring back 1980′s Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox to reprise the roles.

The game is about Doc Brown and Marty’s continuing exploits through time as Marty has to rescue Doc Brown in 1930 Hill Valley. Doc has burned down the local speakeasy run by Kid Tannen, a mob boss ancestor of Biff, and now Doc is in jail and in danger of being gunned down by Tannen’s gang after his release. The second episode has Marty and Doc having to continuously correct the past after Doc’s escape messes up the timestream.

Back to the Future is a bit outside the scope of TellTale Game’s classic adventure games such as Sam & Max and Monkey Island. The style is more realistic, and there’s less of the cartoon logic that their previous games used freely. It felt to me that the first episode had a rocky start trying to get used to the style, but the second one was a bit smoother.

One issue that irked me was that the first episode had incredibly easy puzzles for anyone who is not a newcomer to the adventure game genre. Not to mention the hint system gave you the answer almost immediately without penalty. The second one I thought was a little better in terms of puzzles, but these games will not give hardcore adventurers much of a challenge.

But does this game live up to the Back to the Future movies? I think so. I had to refresh myself a little on the movies before playing it. That turned out to be a good idea. There is a brief refresher on how the DeLorean works, but a lot of the jokes will go over your head if you haven’t seen the movies in a while. The adventure game style actually fits in really well with the formula of the movies. Marty having to improvise on how to fix the past is something that translates seamlessly in the games.

I liked “Back to the Future: The Game.” There are a couple bumps in the road, but I think that by the season finale they will be straightened out. The game is easy enough for kids and teens to play, and will be enjoyable by any Back to the Future fan. Back to the Future is being released in five monthly episodes; Episodes 1 and 2 are available for PC and Mac at the TellTale Store, and PlayStation 3 and iPad versions are or will be available as well.

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