From The Archive is a series that takes articles written by Jennifer McMurray in the past and presents them here on MIC News for a new audience.
The Back to the Future: The Game Episode 4 Review was previously published on The Adventuress on June 23, 2011.
Back to the Future: The Game is available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, iOS, Windows, and Mac.
Double Visions is the fourth episode of the episodic Back to the Future: The Game by Telltale Games. After a troubled start, with the first two episodes being criticized for a lack of originality in puzzles and numerous bugs, things started to seem to be getting better with Episode 3: Citizen Brown. Unfortunately, Double Visions takes many steps backward.
This game takes place in two different time eras, the Citizen Brown alternate 1986, and 1931. The beginning section in the alternate 1986 is excellent, and the cutscene of the Marty and Citizen Brown escape is choreographed so well it actually felt like a scene from the film. However, the rest of the game is spent in 1931, and the game goes downhill fast from here. I do like 1931. I enjoy the characters of young Emmet and young Edna a lot. However, while 1931 seemed fresh and exciting in episode 1, it’s gotten really dull by this point. Telltale did try to liven things up by having new locations. The new locations are Emmet’s new lab and the technology of the future presentation at the Hill Valley High School. The problem is that these are the only two locations for the majority of the game. The puzzles have Marty going back and forth between the two locations, which becomes very tedious very quickly.
The main problem is that there are some bugs in these two locations that make them very frustrating. I had to turn on pop up text because the clickable areas for objects were incorrect. I’d often find Marty leaving Doc’s lab rather than interacting with an object since the clickable area for the door extended too far into the lab. Turning on the pop-up text revealed where the clickable area was, but that was a bandage rather than a solution since pop up text is supposed to be an optional feature. The most frustrating location was the high school. Often I’d try to leave the area and I’d bump into Trixie who was pacing at the bottom of the screen. This would trigger a conversation with Trixie, even though I did not press any button to make this happen. With her walk path being right where Marty needed to be, this happened to me quite a few times. Another very annoying bug is that there was an instance where there was no voice and only subtitles. This was frustrating to me when I played with subtitles turned on, since it broke the story’s hold on me. With the subtitles turned off, it would be even more frustrating, since you would actually miss a part of the dialog.
On the plus side, the puzzles have more variety this time. I enjoyed the puzzle where Marty had to find a way to leave the high school building. The puzzle with Emmet’s invention actually stumped me, and I had to end up looking up a hint. It is nice to see Telltale adding variety and a harder difficulty level to the puzzles. The art design, voices, and music are all top notch once again as well. It’s a shame there aren’t any new characters in this game, however. The returning characters are the ones that I enjoyed the most in the previous games, but new characters would have gone a long way towards making the return visit to 1931 a lot more enjoyable.
After an excellent third episode, it’s a shame this game took such a huge step backward. The framing sections are fun, at the beginning and end of the game. However, it really drags in the middle. There are only two locations for the majority of the game, and those locations are riddled with bugs. The puzzles are more fun this time, and the music, voices, and art design are top notch as usual. However, there are no new characters introduced (nor are there any new alternate versions of characters already seen), and although the characters that are in the game are the most interesting of those seen so far, they are not enough to carry the game on their own. The ending sets up the final episode excellently, as usual. But, in the end, that’s all that this episode seems to be: a way to set things up for the much more ambitious finale.
Since I wrote this review, a remaster called the 30th Anniversary Edition has been released. The improved textures aren’t really that noticeable, however, they also managed to get Tom Wilson to reprise his role as Biff. Biff only appears in a silent cameo in this episode, but since the episodes are only available as a package deal, if you want to play it, it’s worth getting the remaster if you’ve never played the game before. If you’ve already played it, it’s not really worth picking up again, unless you’re a big Back to the Future fan.Final verdict:
3 out of 5
Episode 5: OUTATIME Review
The final episode of Back to the Future: The Game ties the season together with a visit to multiple time periods and the addition of Michael J. Fox to the voice cast. It’s certainly the most ambitious episode to date, and, for the most part, it does live up to its potential.
This game starts off in 1931 in Emmett’s lab. By this point, 1931 is feeling pretty redundant, but Telltale manages to mix things up a bit as we finally get to see the science fair inside of Hill Valley high school. The science fair contains some retro-views of the future, including a house with sliding glass walls, and a home with 1930’s views of “futuristic” objects, including a nice tongue-in-cheek reference to one of the objects from the 2015 future seen in Back to the Future Part II.
The puzzles in this scene are among the most fun I’ve had during the entire run of the series. There’s a puzzle, in particular, involving young Emmett that is kind of an anti-puzzle. I can’t say more without giving anything away, but it was nice to see Telltale thinking out of the box on their puzzle design. The voice acting in this scene also shines, especially the parts where Marty and the older Emmett have to attempt to mock the voices of other characters. Both Christopher Lloyd and AJ Locascio did a great job here. They both managed to sound like their characters imitating other characters, which isn’t an easy task to accomplish.
The game really gets going after the science fair is over. It’s hard to say what happens without giving anything away, but we finally get to see a timeline change happening around Marty and Doc. As I mentioned before, Telltale managed to get Michael J. Fox to voice a character in the game, and he has a large part in helping Marty and Doc as they attempt to find out why the timeline had changed. It’s great to see Michael J. Fox back in a Back to the Future production, and hearing Michael J Fox and AJ Locascio together really drives home just how good AJ’s Marty really is.
There are three time jumps after this, one of which involves a character that was introduced in Back to the Future: The Animated Series. It’s great to see Telltale give a nod of the hat to the show. It’s even better that they managed to handle the character in a way that isn’t as over-the-top as the cartoon, and actually feels like he could have fit into the films. Despite his short appearance in only one scene in this final episode, he’s actually one of my favorite characters in the entire game. If Telltale does another season, it would be great to see more of him, but what we received here was certainly worthwhile.
The best part of the game comes in the final puzzle, which is the best final puzzle in the season. It’s well thought out, the puzzles are entertaining, it incorporates something fans have been asking for, and it feels cinematic enough that it would have easily worked in the films. The musical score here is also excellent, further giving the scene it’s cinematic feel. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. The music in this game really shines. Jared Emerson-Johnson and Bay Area Sound managed to blend the film’s score with new music seamlessly throughout the entire season, and this episode was certainly no different.
I do have to point out though, that the bugs that have been present in every episode this season are still here. I experienced bugs that have plagued previous episodes, such as the bug that causes Marty to be called the wrong name. The bugs aren’t that bad though, but they’re noticeable enough to detract you from the story, which is a shame since this episode is really well done otherwise.
OUTATIME is easily the best episode out of the series. It has plenty of time travel, incorporates things that fans have requested, and the voice and musical score really shines here. Best of all, Michael J Fox has joined the cast for the finale. As with every episode in Back to the Future: The Game, unfortunately, the episode is marred a bit by bugs. The ending is also not for everyone. It’s a bit too cartoony, and it took me a while to warm up to it. That being said, it’s certainly a fitting ending to the season, which has overall been an average gaming experience, but above average in the story, art, and sound departments. I definitely would not mind a second season.
Since I first wrote this review, a remaster called the 30th Anniversary Edition has been released. The improved textures aren’t really that noticeable, however, they also managed to get Tom Wilson to reprise his role as Biff. Having Tom Wilson as Biff really helps to add to the authenticity, so if you want to play the game, it’s worth picking up the remaster if possible. If you’ve already played it, it’s not really worth picking up again, unless you’re a big Back to the Future fan.Final Verdict:
3½ out of 5