Back To The Future: The Game: Episode 1 review

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Category: Puzzle Adventure
Developer: Telltale Games
System Requirements: Mac OS X v10.6, 2.3Ghz Intel processor, 4GB RAM, 512MB Nvidia or ATI Graphics card
Review Computer: iMac 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM and 2.26GHz 13” Macbook Pro, 2GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM
Network Feature: No
Processor Compatibility: Intel
Price: $24.95 (which gets you all future episodes as well)
Availability: Out now

It’s the little things. Marty wanders around Hill Valley in the 1930s, and the movie playing is simply titled, “Shark!” The law offices of Gale, Zemeckis, and Fine. One of the first puzzles involves the giant speaker in Doc’s lab. I’ve seen games made of movies before, and they’re usually quicky cash-ins of low quality, but Back to the Future: The Game is obviously a labor of love.

BTTF Episode 1 picks up as a sequel to the movies, but if you’re one of the three people who hasn’t seen them, the game gets you up to speed by recreating a key opening moment. Emmet “Doc” Brown has built a time machine out of a DeLorean and gets his young friend Marty McFly to help him record the event. But then, things go… awry. At any rate, just as Marty thinks he’s finally done with time travel, and the rest of the townsfolk think the disappeared Doc must be dead, a familiar whoomph! lets Marty know that once again, he’s going to have to travel back in time to save his friend.

Back to the Future Episode 1

As a game, BTTF is structured like a classic puzzle adventure game (like the wonderful Tales from Monkey Island, also from Telltale). You, as Marty, run around encountering obstacles and trying to figure out a way around them. The path is usually logical (you need alcohol to fuel a drill to break through a wall), but the solution is not (you know where some booze is, but instead of getting it yourself, you have to trick someone else into doing it). If you get stuck, there’s a built-in hint guide that will tell you what needs to be done.

The developers get the tone of the movies just about perfect. There are lots of nods to the trilogy—the villain is once again a member of the Tannen family—but they get the tone right, too: Marty is exasperated as he tries to navigate through the past without erasing his own existence. There’s a comedic action scene involving a police wagon and a rocket cycle that Buster Keaton would be proud of. The game uses the original score and incidental music from the films to create the mood, and Christopher Lloyd is on hand to recreate Doc Brown as both the mad scientist we love and the teenage boy. AJ LoCascio as Marty does such a good job of recreating Michael J. Fox from the 80s that it’s spooky. The writers even included a bit of dialogue that explained where Doc’s wife and kids were, which was nice because as soon as I saw him, that’s what I wanted to know.

On the downside, I ran into one rather large bug in the game. There’s a puzzle that relies on a cutscene being triggered in order for the player to advance. No matter what I did, I could not get it to happen, and after checking online I found that others were having this problem, too, and that the only solution was to go back to an earlier point and go through dialogue options in their “proper” (according to the game) order to trigger it. And since this game features a lot of dialogue—talking to characters through dialogue choices to find the right one—going back was a bit of a drag.

That having been said, I loved BTTF: Episode 1. The future eps are being released every month, and I’m confident that based on this first bit, this is going to feel like the fourth movie in the series.

Appletell Rating:
back to the future episode 1 review

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See the review of Back To The Future: The Game: Episode 2.

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