Review by Blk_Mage_Ctype
"If my calculations are correct, once this baby hits 88, we're gonna see some serious nostalgia!"
Going in, I didn't know what to expect from Back to the Future: The Game. I could see the potential for an incredible game, but it's hard to shake that sinking feeling after years of poorly made Licensed Games. However, Back to the Future: Episode I: It's About Time quickly put my fears to rest once I actually sat down and played it. It's not absolutely perfect, but it exceeded my expectations and kept me entertained the whole way through.
Back to the Future Episode I: It's About Time takes place 6 months after the events of Back to the Future Part III, (The Movie) and starts with Marty having a dream about the events that took place at Twin Pines Mall at the beginning of the first movie. However, this dream quickly becomes a nightmare as the experiment somehow fails, erasing the Doc from existence! Marty awakes from the nightmare to the comforting sound of his mother's voice who reminds him that Doc Brown's lab is going up for State Sale today. Marty goes to the State Sale and attempts to convince his father (who is running the sale) that the Doc is still alive, but despite his best efforts, is powerless to halt the State Sale. While looking around the old Lab, Marty discovers the Doc's old notebook hidden inside the old model courthouse, and suddenly a familiar sound and flashes of light shine through the windows from outside the Lab. Marty rushes outside to find the Delorean parked outside! Inside, Marty finds Einstein and a tape recorder informing Marty that the Delorean's automatic retrieval system (a fail safe that makes the Time Machine return to present day if the Doc fails to reach it within a set amount of time) has triggered, which means that the Doc is lost somewhere in time, and needs to be rescued. However, since the readout that says where in time the Delorean came from is broken, Marty is left with only one possible lead to the Doc's whereabouts, a lone woman's high-heel shoe that Marty finds sitting on the floor on the passenger's side of the Delorean. With the help of Einstein, Marty is able to track down the owner of the shoe in the present, and discover that the Doc has traveled back to the year 1931 where he was gunned down by Kid Tannen for blowing up a Speakeasy. Now it's up to Marty to Travel back in time and save the Doc. The story is entertaining, but leaves a few plot-holes in it's wake. For example, the game seemingly ignores the ending of Back to the Future Part III. Clara, Jules, and Verne (Doc Brown's wife & kids) are never mentioned in the game at all and Marty never once questions how the Delorean has returned when it was smashed to bits by a train 6 months ago. Furthermore, it never explains why the Doc went back to the year 1931 in the first place, and the Doc's instructions for Marty to come and save him are highly uncharacteristic of the Doc when in Back to the Future Part III the Doc explicitly tells Marty not to attempt to find him in 1885, not to mention how uncharacteristic it is that the Doc rebuilt the Time Machine after he repeatedly stated throughout the movies how he wanted to destroy it.
Graphically, Back to the Future: The Game looks not unlike a Gamecube game running at a higher resolution. However, the game focuses more on art direction than polygon count. The art style has a bit of a cartoony, Jimmy Neutron-like appearance which takes some getting used to, but overall it works well. Everything is well represented and looks good.
All the familiar tunes and sound effects from the movies return in the game. Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doctor Emmett Brown, but at times sounds a bit off. Marty is voiced by AJ LoCascio, who does a such a good job at impersonating Michael J. Fox that at first you'd think that it was Micheal J. Fox, but as time passes you can tell that it isn't actually him. Unfortunately, that's where the good voice acting in this game ends... Most of the other voice acting in this game ranges from mediocre to cringe-worthy, but thankfully most of the voice work you'll hear in this game is done by Christopher Lloyd & AJ LoCascio.
Back to the Future is basically your standard point & click game, the right stick makes the on-screen cursor cycle between various points of interest. The left stick can be used to make Marty walk manually, the Triangle Button brings up your current objective, the Circle Button is used to cancel selections or exit conversations, the X Button is used to make selections, walk towards a point of interest from a distance, and interact with objects at close range, the Square Button opens up Marty's inventory. Much like many WRPGs this generation, Marty can engage in conversation with other characters and interact with them to gain clues on how to help him progress in the story. Conversations have your standard Dialog Tree with different topics of discussion, questions, and answers. Gameplay consists of collecting items, searching for clues, interacting with other characters/objects, and working towards your goal of saving the Doc. The gameplay is rather simplistic and straight forward in nature, but certain things do require a bit of thinking, process of trial and error, and a certain part even requires some quick reflexes. However, the gameplay does have one problem... Playing this game, it's clear that the game was first designed with a keyboard & mouse in mind because the controls on the Dual Shock 3 are somewhat finicky and imprecise. Having Marty walk manually with the left stick has issues when you turn a corner and the fixed camera angle changes position, when this happens, you'll instinctively want to tilt the left stick in the appropriate direction to make Marty walk towards the intended location, but while the camera angle has changed, the controls are still working as though you're on the last screen and Marty will continue walking on the same path even though the direction you're tilting the left stick in may now be the exact opposite of that direction since the camera's change in perspective. Which needless to say, can be very confusing. Furthermore, since the cursors movement isn't under your direct control, it automatically locks onto the nearest object, so while the cursor is locked onto a door and there's a sign right next to the door, as you near the door and press the X Button to open the door, the cursor might jump between the door and the sign, making Marty walk away from the door towards said sign, and then you'll have to turn Marty back around, and use the right stick to jump the cursor from the sign to the door. Which once again, can be very frustrating.
Back to the Future Episode I: It's About Time is a very entertaining game if you're a fan of the Back to the Future series or a fan of point & click adventure games, but it's not exactly perfect so bear that in mind when you play it. However, for the price I'd say that this game is well worth it, and I can't wait to play Episode II as soon as it comes out. (Hopefully future episodes will help to fill in some of the plot-holes as well.)
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/09/11
Game Release: Back to the Future: The Game - Episode I: It's About Time (US, 02/15/11)
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