Review – Back To The Future: The Game

The Back To The Future series is an American classic. These films gave us a sense of wonder as we discovered what sorts of things could change in alternate realities. Michael J. Fox became a known name in houses across the nation (I know, that was a long time ago). So, while Telltale Games has taken it upon themselves to create a classic adventure game (“point and click”) based on Back To The Future, can it possibly live up to the legend?

To start, the whole game is sectioned off into five chapters that help to elaborate on the original world. We find out a lot more about the pasts of both Doc Brown and Marty Mcfly, and new characters pop up regularly too. While the scope is somewhat limited in that you won’t be traipsing around Hill Valley with dozens of citizens to talk to, the ones who are there stand out uniquely on their own and fit well with the original direction of the movies.

Hopping in the Delorean often causes problems bigger than the original ones. Ah, whatever, lightning doesn't strike twice, right?

The first episode takes place sometime after the events of the third Back to the Future film, and Doc Brown is nowhere to be found. In fact, it has been long enough that he’s presumed dead and his worldly possessions are being sold off. Naturally, Biff is there, being himself, a bully. After a few small events at Doc’s house, Marty finds out he must go back in time to 1931 to rescue Doc from an unknown circumstance.

There are a variety of mishaps that occur during our stay with Marty and Doc. Finding out what happens when someone accidentally ends up with the wrong mate for life can have interesting consequences. There are plenty of references to the movies, and we find out just how deep the roots of evil grow at the bottom of the Tannen family tree. Some relationships are strained, some intrigue is brought about when certain people end up together (and aren’t “supposed to”), and overall the events that occur should keep players engaged until the end of the 5th chapter.

The whole cast is very expressive.

I was quite surprised to learn that the voice actor who lends his talent to “Marty” sounds almost exactly like Michael J. Fox. If I hadn’t read that it wasn’t him, I don’t think I would have figured it out for myself. Christopher Lloyd resumes his role as Doc Brown, and Michael J. Fox makes a guest appearance as well. The voice acting is, on the whole, excellent.

Marty, why are we putting our heads together? The puzzles aren't that hard.

This being an “adventure game” (genres are so confusing these days, I know), there will be puzzles to solve. A good deal of them seem like they’re only there so that this can technically be called a “game”. They essentially keep you involved in what’s going on with the characters. There are a few rare ones that require some good logic to figure out, but there are plenty of others that will leave you fiddling around with objects until you’ve solved something; which is, suffice to say, best described as a chore.

One particularly annoying section had me exhausting all of my options at least twice, and when I was frustrated and gave up, I tried walking into a previous area and, bam, I was suddenly able to move on. This only happened once, thankfully. You will never have too many options all at once in the game, which is a probably a good thing, because it helps to prevent you from wasting time wandering around uselessly. I can’t say the puzzles were all that satisfying, but being as easy as most of them are, they probably help to keep the game flowing.

"Doc, that coffee's got you all jittery" "No, Marty, it's the Wii version acting up again!"

Overall this is a pretty decent game, but unfortunately, the Wii version is relatively awful. Looking at pictures of the game, you might be lulled into a sense of trust, thinking that the character models look pretty nice (and they do). However, this game has been released on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Playstation 3, and the port to the Wii was lazily done. I can’t stress that enough. There are framerate issues, stuttering animations, small loading times that can occur with camera changes and scene changes, textures so blurry that even the Nintendo 64 looks comparatively clear, and sometimes characters’ lines will be cut off at their last word (though there is text, so you can see the whole dialogue).

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is still enjoyment to be had, even on the Wii version, but with a game like this that is focused on the story and the characters, the presentation needs to be great. This port to the Wii has not accomplished this, and so, it deserves a lower score.

Back to the Future: The Game is perfect for those who have seen the movies, as it expands on the originals and lets us get closer to the characters we’ve grown to love. There are interesting, lighthearted stories to be had here. For the most part, the puzzles aren’t all that exciting, so don’t expect anything closely resembling the fun of Portal 2 here. The technical issues hurt the game dramatically, and for some, they will be a deal breaker. If possible, get one of the other versions, but if you have to buy the Wii version, make sure you get it cheap.
 
Grade (Wii version): C
Grade (other versions without the various technical flaws): B
 
Back To The Future: The Game was released on October 25th for Wii. Currently it (and the PS3 version) can be purchased at Amazon.com for $19.99. The game should last approximately 9-12 hours depending on how fast puzzles are solved and how many optional dialogues are played through.

System: Wii
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>

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