Back to the Future: The Game

aka: Back to the Future: The Game - 30th Anniversary Edition, Retour vers le Futur: Le Jeu, Zurück in die Zukunft: Das Spiel
Windows Specs [ all ]
(prices updated 9/20 10:29 AM )

Description

Back to the Future: The Game is a collection of all 5 episodes of Telltale Games Back to the Future series:

The bundle is the only way to purchase the games for the PlayStation 3 platform. Episodes were made available gradually. For the later released PS4, Wii, Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions the episodes were also not available separately.

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (PlayStation 3 version)

308 People (256 developers, 52 thanks) · View all

Written by
Directed by
Director of Art
Art Direction
Executive Producers
Director of Production Technologies
Lead Programmer
Lead Animator
Lead Choreographer
Lead Environment Artist
Season Design by
Episode Design by
Story Consultant
Concept Artist
Director of Design
Produced by
Programming
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 72% (based on 26 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 45 ratings with 3 reviews)

Fitting homage to the movies; very weak adventure game

The Good
It's funny: just a couple of days ago I was talking on phone with my mother, who (uncharacteristically) asked me what game I was playing; when I answered "You know, they just made a Back to the Future game. Do you remember that movie?" - she said: "Do I remember? That was your favorite movie, how could I forget it!".

Indeed, when I was a teenager, watching that movie for the first time back in 1988 or so was really exciting. I still love it. I've watched it at least seven or eight times, and the last time (about two years ago), I realized there was more to the movie than its flashy, goofy sci-fi side which appealed to me when I was younger. Back to the Future is a movie about the choices we make, about our power to shape our own future, about all those eternal ethical maxims that must be repeated over and over again because so few people actually pay attention to them.

Back to the Future: The Game captures the spirit of the movie and its sequels pretty well. The game's creators proved, above all, that they knew, understood, and loved the movies. Their competence goes beyond nostalgic reminiscences and plot devices. As a matter of fact, the visual style (being somewhat cartoony and even "super-deformed") doesn't resemble the movie at all; the story revolves mainly around Doc's past, which was hardly the topic of the movies; the action elements are sparse and confined to cutscenes. Yet every fiber of this game is so unmistakably Back to the Future, that the game could have gotten away even with less superficial differences. The game breathes the spirit of the movies as though it were created by the very same people.

The overarching story of the five episodes focuses on Doc. Basically, the main objective of the game is to help Doc find his true vocation, become himself. Naturally, all this is done with familiar nonchalant time-traveling plot devices. Everything that happens in the game is absolutely convincing in the sense that it fits what we've seen in the movies. The story has its poignant moments and also carries an underlying ethical message.

The dialogues in the game are well-written. They found the perfect tone, never going over-the-top with the comedy, and carefully preserving the style of the original. Everything is written with just a touch of humor, just like it was with the movies, and things never get too grotesque or out of tone, as it often happens with installments of long series when authors erroneously begin to think that it needs expansion and mixture of styles (yes, Escape from Monkey Island, I'm looking at you).

The Bad
While the game works as a Back to the Future product, the same cannot be said of its quality as an adventure game. I understand that Telltale wanted to cater to casual gamers, but there is a fine line between catering and dumbing down, and I think that they have certainly crossed it. Every task in the game can be solved simply by applying common sense to the situations. There are no actual puzzles, nothing that could challenge the player - it feels like a mildly entertaining sitcom with a bit of interactivity thrown in.

The worst thing about the game, however, is the utter lack of exploration, confinement to small, restricted areas. Roughly speaking, there is just one location in the entire game - the town square. Yes, you visit other places as well; but, without exception, all these places are just puzzle rooms in which you must accomplish a task and then move on. The only location that offers some (rudimentary) exploration is the square, and it's really small: there are maybe two or three buildings at most you can enter, and they are close to each other.

The game imposes inexplicable restriction on your movement: often you can clearly see an area, but cannot walk there. You are confined to tiny, pre-determined pathways throughout the whole game, and that is not good. The fixed camera angles are confusing, annoying, and out of place in a 3D game. On top of that, the navigation is clunky and weird: you either move by dragging the mouse (who came up with that idea?), or with directional arrows, but then you have to simultaneously hold a key to run. Walking and running animations look stiff and unnatural.

You only see the aforementioned square in two variants: 1930's and the alternate Orwellian 1986. Four out of five episodes take place almost entirely in the thirties. I have nothing against this setting, but I think a game with such a small location could have at least offer this location in different flavors. In fact, you do make a trip to 1876 (in the last episode), but it is ridiculously short and consists of a visit to one saloon.

I think something could have been done to reflect the action-loaded spirit of the movie. I'm not saying that the game should have been a shooter or a platformer or anything like that; but unlike the cerebral, comic book-like Sam & Max, Back to the Future would have benefited from more suspense and pure adrenaline-raising thrills. Maybe it sounds silly, but I think I would have enjoyed this game more if it had mini-games - perhaps a few quick-time events, maybe driving or racing levels, or anything to spice up the languid adventure gameplay.

Finally, I must say that even though they made a good Back to the Future installment, there still can be no comparison to the first movie. The story is much weaker and doesn't quite have the same kind, touching wisdom that made the first movie so memorable. It can be compared in this sense to the two movie sequels, which are in my opinion inferior to the original one. The episodes are also uneven in quality, with fairly long stretches of dull storytelling and repetitive plot devices.

The Bottom Line
Back to the Future: The Game is perfectly satisfying as a nostalgia trip to the great film, but strip away the license and you will be left with a paper-thin adventure game that is sub-par in pretty much every respect.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (180491) · 2018

Don't be like me, keep playing this game until the end before writing your review

The Good
I really like it how the game perfectly copies the true Back to the Future atmosphere. You always have the same sense of adventure as if you were watching the movies and the humor is also identical. This is very nice for fans of the franchise and people who never watched a movie will probably like it as well because it is just brilliant. The crowning moment is probably when Marty hooks his guitar up to a huge speaker and uses it to bring down the guards that were trying to catch him and Brown.

This game tells it's own story instead of just making a game version of the story that has already been told through a movie. This is nice because it expands the story further or in this case provide a "what if" scenario instead of just telling us the same story again. We get to see some old characters like Emmet Brown and Marty Mcfly again, but there are also new faces like Edna Strickland and Arthur Mcfly. The story still feels like it's written by the same writers though which is weird considering twenty years have passed since.

The story is about you'd expect from a Telltale game, the whole story is separated into five episodes which all start where the previous episode left off and all end with a cliffhanger for the next episode. Something I really like though, is that every episode ends properly and it never feels like all your efforts didn't make a difference after all. Most of the time you solved the problem, but a small fragment of it was left unresolved, so you have to go back and fix it.

The humor is pretty damn good and fits the Back to the Future theme perfectly, I especially liked some winks at jokes that were in the movie and even one or two jokes about some of the lines everybody remembers (like: "You'll see some serious shit", I am not going to spoil the joke though). I admit I had to laugh a lot while playing this game and that comes from somebody who doesn't really care that much about the movies. If the adventure is the glue in this game, then the humor is the polish that makes this game shine.

The Bad
If you can't figure out a puzzle and you need to think for a while it will be constantly interrupted by character's saying the exact same lines over and over again instead of them just shutting up while you are trying to think. This is incredibly annoying and got me close to just muting the game, but I figured turning it off would be a much faster solution to my problem. Honestly, who thinks these design choices up, is there just somebody on the development team who suggested that characters should always talk even if they long ago ran out of dialogue?

Everything is just so slow and takes way too long to complete; the walking feels like Marty is eighty years old, every action is accompanied by an animation that can last several seconds (even if you already did that action before a hundred times) and there is talking around every corner. It makes me wonder if these people ever played Amnesia, there you just pick up stuff by picking it up, you don't need to see an animation of your character picking it up, you just do it. The biggest problem we have her is that a lot of puzzles require you to temporarily distract somebody, but if you don't finish the rest of the puzzle in time he will come back again.

The game takes place in the 1930's which is a nice setting with a lot of style to it, but for some unexplained reason they never did anything with the whole "mafia-style" that was going on at the moment and is even the main threat in the game. Hill Valley looks nothing different from what it did in the 50's and 80's and all the gangsters are cartoon villains who are just trying to be mean to people and sell alcohol (yeah alcohol, apparently that stuff is very illegal). They don't even have any machine guns, they only use pistols when they really have to. Why would you ignore making use of such a great setting?

The game demands a lot from your computer and it just gets ridiculous when you look at the minimum settings and notice they look a lot like those of FPS games. It is obvious to me that Telltale spend a lot of time writing the story, but kind of forgot that a game is more enjoyable the less is requires to run. I wouldn't mind that much because I can still run the game if it didn't look like it was made in 2005 and it actually had some effects. During a shoot-out there aren't even any bullets or different animations, it makes no sense to have these requirements.

The Bottom Line
When I wrote my first review on this game, I was in the second chapter and I thought that was enough to write the entire review. The second chapter, as it turned out, is the worst part of the entire game and has pretty much everything wrong and it doesn't have the real Back to the Future spirit, so naturally I wrote a very negative review on this game. I didn't want thirteen euros to go to waste though, so I kept playing and noticed that I had wrongly accused this game of been terrible.

I am a gentleman, so I feel no shame in apologizing and therefore I rewrote this review. Back to the Future is a pretty nice game for both the fans of this movie as well as fans of point and click adventure games. People who aren't familiar with the back-story will run into some difficulties when trying to keep up with the story, but they can still enjoy a pretty solid adventure.

Windows · by Asinine (957) · 2011

Ignore the flaws and take it for what it's worth: A great entry to the BttF series!

The Good

  • Charming art style
  • Enjoyable characters, old and new
  • Does a wonderful job capturing the feel of the films
  • Whilst also telling a great story of its own
  • A.J. LoCascio is crazy good as Marty and Christopher Lloyd is back as Doc Brown
  • Great cameo from Michael J. Fox at the end
  • Has a "pick up and play" attitude
  • "Back in Time" is heard, and it is still awesome!


The Bad

  • Some tasks are uninteresting/dull
  • Numerous bugs in the episodes
  • Poor recording quality disservices great VO's
  • Too easy, especially for veterans of the genre
  • Weird performance bugs
  • Animation can be stiff, repetitive & awkward


The Bottom Line
Who doesn't love Back to the Future? It's a firmly established piece of pop culture history and one of the best films of the 80s, and I fondly remember how much I enjoyed myself when I saw it on the big screen in 1985. The charming characters, imaginative storyline, great humour, and sense of adventure were all key in making it the beloved classic it is now and while there have been other attempts to turn it into a game, Telltale has finally gone a step in a right direction; and what better way to make a BttF game than as a graphic adventure?

The game is set 6 months after the end of Part 3. The DeLorean is presumed destroyed and the Doc is living in the past with Clara and their children. Marty is a bit down and misses the doc, and the game begins as Doc's home and belongings are being sold off to the state. After rescuing the Doc's plans for the time machine and more from Biff, the DeLorean somehow appears (Yes they do explain later how it came back after looking pretty trashed at the end of #3) with Einstein the dog inside.

Doc (Under the guise of Carl Sagan. Heh.) is apparently trapped in a 1931 jail, accused of committing arson and burning down a speakeasy - a speakeasy that just so happens to be owned by yet another malevolent Tannen, "Kid." As Marty departs, he learns yet more troubling news - Doc will be killed by Kid's mafia on the court house steps! Marty heads back to save Doc, and as one would expect - things get more and more complicated and bizarre; one memorable twist is the episode "Citizen Brown" - where Marty accidentally creates a weird, totalitarian state run by the eponymous "Citizen Brown" (Doc of course; except he never discovered science.) and arguably the most insane moral crusader since Jack Thompson, Edna Strickland.

The story is well written (Even if the time-travel logic can be hard to swallow at times.) and captures the feel of the movies. There's plenty of adventure, humor, and all the heart and character that made the movies so memorable. There are even some genuine and effective dramatic moments in the game and you really do get to care for the characters. One of my favourite characters (Introduced in the game, anyways) has to be the young, teenaged Doc Brown who is just as eccentric as his adult counterpart but in varying ways; plus they manage to make him interesting enough that it improves on Doc's character and his past.

With the exception of Biff, the voice acting is superb as well. Doc is played as always by Christopher Lloyd, and it is clear he is having just as much fun here as he did in the films. Newcomer A.J. LoCascio plays Marty, and does a damn good job. In fact I had an argument with my wife over the fact Micheal J. Fox wasn't reprising his role as Marty, and it took a trip to the IMDb to prove it. Yet LoCascio isn't merely imitating Fox's voice, he is a talented actor on his own and plays the role more as a tribute to Fox rather than trying to ape or outdo him. Fox does have a cameo in the series finale, and if the cliffhanger ending says anything about next season - Fox may have a slightly larger role, and if he is stable enough and wishes to do it then that makes me all the more excited for a Season 2. The only real complaint about the voice acting is that the voice recording quality is iffy. Past Telltale games have had crystal clear recording quality, yet here it can be scratchy and awkward; sometimes even making characters sound like they just barely got over laryngitis.

And that is my segue into the negatives of the game. Unfortunately, there are a few to point out. Despite the charming art design, the visuals suffer from some extremely awkward and poor animations. Sometimes an animation will loop or repeat as a character is still talking mid-sentence, and the already awkward animation can actually be scary in instances like this since it looks like they have no control over their body, which is being controlled by balloons on strings while their voice ekes out of their only controllable joint, the mouth - and even that looks awkward and jarring.

The game also repeats environments quite a bit, in fact most of the game takes place in either 1931 Hill Valley town square, or some variation of Town Square. There are a couple more locales later on, but it can wear on you. It also doesn't help that the game is buggy, and can trap you forever in a single locale. This became especially annoying in Episode 5; there is a game breaking bug that allows you to enter a scene you aren't supposed to enter unless you have solved a certain puzzle, and I found myself getting the bug a million times until a Telltale representative told me and everyone else what puzzle I had to do first.

Yet the greatest flaw is the difficulty. Have you played - and beaten - a graphic adventure before? Then this game will pose little challenge; and by little, I mean microscopic. Even newcomers might find it a bit easy at times, but to be fair the game is designed in such a way that it can be picked up and played by anyone and Telltale has always made the first season and early episodes simple before getting a bit more challenging in the second season; and hopefully that is what they will do. The hint system can also be a bit annoying, and you have to turn it off each time you start an episode if you don't want Marty or other characters belching patronizing hints. Even on the lowest hint setting, a hint would be spoken if I took more than 30 seconds on a puzzle. I imagine on the highest hint setting, the dialogue is replaced with nothing but hints.

But you know what? As much as I or any critic can pan the game for its difficulty, I'm not going to. Because I still had a barrel of fun, in fact no - make that 3 barrels of fun. It captures the essence of the films and the characters so well that it is almost sad so many critics have leaned on the gameplay issues while almost completely ignoring what makes the game so much fun to play.

I really recommend this game to anyone who loves Back to the Future (And really, who doesn't?? Even my 86 year old Aunt played this game out of a love for BttF =D) all I ask is that you forgive the simplistic design and just have fun. The game is 24 bucks on Steam, which isn't a bad price for the entire season (The purchase is also donated to Micheal J. Fox's research foundation for Parkinson's research) and the game as a whole has a good length. I beat each episode around 2 and a half hours and about 3 for the finale; and in total you have a 12 or so hour game. Seriously, check it out! And to Telltale, bring us Season 2 sooner than later!

Windows · by Kaddy B. (777) · 2011

Trivia

Awards

  • PC Games (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2012 - #3 Best Adventure Game in 2011 (Readers' Choice)

Related Games

Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown
Released 2011 on PlayStation 3, iPad, 2014 on PlayStation Now
Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen!
Released 2011 on PlayStation 3, iPad, 2014 on PlayStation Now
Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time
Released 2010 on Windows, Macintosh, 2011 on iPad
The Simpsons Game
Released 2007 on Nintendo DS
Igor: The Game
Released 2008 on Wii, Windows
Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time
Released 2010 on Wii
Skunny: Back to the Forest
Released 1993 on DOS
Back to the Edo
Released 1994 on LaserActive
Heidi: The Game
Released 2005 on Windows

Related Sites +

Identifiers +

Contribute

Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Picard.

Wii added by Victor Vance. Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Macintosh, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: MAT, Sciere, jaXen, formercontrib, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Zerobrain, Kennyannydenny.

Game added January 30th, 2011. Last modified September 19th, 2023.