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Back to the Future: The Game Preview

Just when you thought that dredging up old favorites like Ghostbusters to be remade in a modern gaming context was overly nostalgic, another popular movie series is staging a comeback. Back to the Future: The Game is an adventure game that is being developed by Telltale Games, a company well known for its graphic adventures ranging from Sam & Max to their best known work, Tales of Monkey Island. It has been commented that Telltale Games are one of, if not the best, developers to get the episodic-style of games refined to the best experienced possible. Both Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd return to provide their likenesses, unfortunately, Fox does not provide the voice for Marty, that role has been assigned to AJ LoCascio.

First news of the game surfaced in June 2010, with input from fans sought on characters, story and possible mission or scenario options. The official announcement and details were released on September 1, 2010; other material included promo art and information about the stylized design path they were taking with the series. It was felt that realistic graphics would detract from the novelty of the source material, which has been held to the highest standard, especially as the film trilogy screenwriter Bob Gale has been retained as a consultant to help maintain the accuracy and feel of the movies. The CEO of Telltale, Dan Connors, makes it clear that continuity is of upmost importance, explaining that “creating cinematic adventures true to the source is a top mission for Telltale. Securing Marty and Doc for the games, and presenting the experience that fans know and love, has been top on our list since we initiated development”.Many proposed script elements called for sequences that were in conflict with the proscribed timeline, and had to be either canned or reworked to fit. This title is being touted as the only true Back to the Future title, as “previous BTTF video games have all sucked eggs”; Bob Gale actively fought against LJN’s 1989 version as one of the worst games ever made.

The plot is still under wraps, but there have been some small details released. The game’s story takes place six months after the conclusion to the third movie, showing how Marty has emerged from his adventures and has returned to life as a normal person. Unsurprisingly, he is then recruited to utilize the time machine once again to travel to several time periods to locate Doc Brown, sometimes encountering Doc’s younger self in the past. Some new ideas that are being floated for inclusion as scenarios that revolve around the events of the previous film titles, such as undisclosed elements that were considered for Back to the Future: Part 2. The entire game is split into five episodes, with the first set to appear in December of this year on Windows and OS X and shortly afterwards PS3 and iPad.

After the successes of their other titles, it appears that Telltale Games is really coming into its own and carving out a niche where it stands to make a name for itself. If it can continue to secure popular or big titles to convert into adventure game glory, it will solidify its position as an authority on what adventure games are capable of.

As well as a promotional offer for a free copy of the first episode on the developer’s website, vouchers for free copies were included form in the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray copy of the Back to the Future trilogy as of October 26, 2010. Both PC and Mac versions cost $25 through pre-order, which also includes access to special forums on Telltale’s website and a copy of Puzzle Agent. If you liked Sam & Max or adventure games in general, keep an eye on this one.

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