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Back to the Future:
It's About Time


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Back to the Future: It's About Time

JamesTime traveling sports cars, doe-eyed Canadians, wild-haired scientists, a few brushes with total removal from history and exclamations towards the greatness of those found north of Hadrian's Wall: it can only be Back to the Future. And it's got a game. But not just any game. Not some movie-merchandise spin-off. Back to the Future: The Game is the digital adventure partner this iconic 80s trilogy deserves. Or it will be, once more of the episodic releases hit our virtual shelves. Marty McFly and the Doc are at it again, joining forces with Telltale Games and taking the DeLorean (with Flux Capacitor upgrade) for a spin through time and space.

Back to the FutureIt has been a good couple of decades since the last movie was released, and even the marvel of home DVD can't ensure that everyone knows what Back to the Future is. If you doubt this claim, consider that I have met college students who never heard of 'Gremlins'. Back to the Future was a fantastic trilogy released in the last half of the 80s in which teen slacker Marty McFly has to reunite the teenage couple who would become his parents, stop his son from arrest in 2015, move the current timeline out of an alternative reality after a mishap with a book of sports scores, and end up taking down the outlaw "Mad Dog" Tannen in the Wild West of 19th century Hill Valley. It's an 80s masterpiece, cinematic classic and just about the best time-traveling movies ever made (with a nod to Bill & Ted).

Back to the Future: The Game starts a few months after the events of the trilogy (which, relatively speaking, took place over a few hours). Marty wakes up from a dream (an experience fans of the first movie will get a kick out of) and rushes to the Doc's place. Doc Brown hasn't been seen for quite a while and the city has decided to start pawning his stuff. Marty, nostalgically going through the place, is soon surprised with the arrival of the DeLorean, with Einstein (Doc's dog) inside. A tape recording reveals that the car came back as a failsafe, if Doc didn't use it after a certain amount of time. That means he's in trouble and it is up to Marty to find out where and when he is — and go rescue him.

Back to the FutureAnalysis: Back to the Future: The Game does an impressive job recreating the classic movies for a new audience in a new medium. The transition from the ending of Back to the Future III isn't as convincing as it could have been, but it's done with such style and taste that only puritan fans would object. Marty is voiced by a convincing doppleganger for Michael J. Fox and the Doc is revisited by none other than Christopher Lloyd himself. Some stuff is hit (Biff's model) and miss(Marty's dad sounds nothing like Crispin Glover), but this is the best work Telltale has ever delivered. Note that I say 'work' and not 'game'. To me the experience was 99% there, but the design is hardly vexing. There is no object combining and pretty much every puzzle will collapse under the scientific application of exhausting dialog trees and using your spartan inventory on everything in sight. If that still holds you down, the hint system does everything but move the mouse for you.

In terms of quality, writing and length, Back to the Future: The Game is at least as good as the best of the Sam & Max episodics. It sits well above those games in the animation department. Perhaps we can thank this game's required presence in the mid 1980s, but the game also skips all the painful pop-culture jokes that ruined much of the Sam & Max experience. And it takes great care to bring Hill Valley, the perpetual stage for Marty and Doc's adventures, back to life without feeling goofy with fanboyishness ala Monkey Island. I'll say Telltale got back To The Future just right, though they should really consider adding a 'pro' mode for us salted adventurephiles.

Would this game be any less impressive without the nostalgia of the movies hanging around my neck? I don't know, but I doubt it. Nostalgia is overrated. Despite being a devoted fan of the series, the new Monkey Island games only managed to push me away. If anything, hardcore Back to the Future fans run the biggest risk of getting a bad taste in their mouths. It definitely will not hurt to watch the movies, so that you have some context and can enjoy all the little touches. But this first episode really shows that Telltale understands what made Back to the Future work. The next five months are going to be quite interesting as the saga of Marty, Doc and a few time-related problems enter our lives.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version (via Steam)

Walkthrough Guide


(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

Back to the Future: Chapter 1 - walkthrough
Tips:

  • Some dialog will open up solutions to a puzzle, but there are often also responses that will all lead to the same conclusion. You can't lose the game, so don't worry about what dialog option you choose.

  • The game is controlled with the mouse. Hold down the left button and drag to move Marty in a direction. Hold in the right button to make him run. You can also use the keyboard's arrow keys or WASD, and Shift to run.

  • Several solutions lie in conversations. If you are stuck, explore all the dialog options.

  • The hint system scales nicely - consult it for vague tips to outright directions.

Walkthrough

Opening video

Click on any dialog options

Walk to the van and get the notebook from the toolbox.
Screenshot

Finding Doc

Doc's Notebook

Walk to the miniture of Hill Valley's town square and click on it.
Screenshot

Biff took the notebook. Walk over to and click on the amp.

Get the guitar from the box near George and use it on the amp.
Screenshot

Biff tries to take the guitar, but George stops him. Talk to George and mention Marty fighting his own battles.

Use the guitar again.

The Delorean Arrives

The Delorean arrives outside. Open it.

Get the tape recorder and listen to it.
Screenshot

Get the shoe.

Exit the Delorean.

Show the shoe to Einstein. He will lead you to an apartment.

Edna's Apartment

Hit the apartment buzzer.

Show Edna the shoe. She will invite you up.

Ask Edna about the shoe.

Ask Edna about the Speakeasy.

Ask Edna where the Speakeasy was.

Use the radiator.

Once Edna leaves the room, use the binoculars.

Marty has a year. Use the radiator again.

Use the newspaper. Marty now has a day as well.
Screenshot

Back at the Delorean, Marty will talk to George. Say anything.

Once inside the Delorean, turn on the Time Circuit and click on the Keypad.
Screenshot

Rescue Doc

Convincing Emmett

Marty will chat to Edna. Say anything.

Go to the Jail window by the Police Station.

Go through the dialog until you can ask how to contact Doc's younger self.

Get the number and go to the soup kitchen.

Use the phone inside the soup kitchen.
Screenshot

Go to the courthouse.

Talk to Emmett and mention the rocket drill. Keep pursuing him and asking about the drill until he starts threatening that harrassment is a federal crime.
Screenshot

Use the tape recorder on Emmett.

Go back to Doc and play the recording to him.
Screenshot

Go back to Emmett and give him the answer Doc gave Marty.

Subpoena Arthur McFly

Finding Arthur McFly

Go to the Shoe Shine stand.

Agree to shine Kid Tanner's shoes.

Ask about Arthur McFly.

Ask about Arthur's hat.

Ask for peanuts.

Say "What the hell is that?!"

After escaping Kid Tannen, show the hat to Einstein (by the tree in the town square). He will lead you to an apartment.
Screenshot

Getting Arthur downstairs

Ring the buzzer and talk to Arthur. He can't come down.

Go back to the town square (exit right). Walk up to Kid Tannen at the shoe polish stand.

He will chase Marty, who escapes to the roof of the gazebo. Use the tape recorder on Kid Tannen.
Screenshot

Click on Einstein. He will distract Tannen.

Go back to Arthur McFly.

Click on the buzzer.

When Arthur pokes his head out, use the recorder on him.

When Arthur comes down, serve him the subpoena.

Getting Hooch

Swapping the Soup and Alcohol

Go to the soup kitchen.

Try to open the kitchen door (far left).
Screenshot

Talk to Emmett and mention the door.

Walk towards the soup kitchen's front door. Emmett will shout "Eureka!".

Go back to Emmett. Click on the door.

Go to the counter and talk to Cue Ball (guy with newspaper).

Ask for some soup.

Recommend any ingredient. When Que Ball is seasoning the soup, click on the red pipe (far right wall).

Getting the alcohol from Edna

Edna has the hooch. Walk to the town square and talk to her.

Ask about the scoop.

Ask about the Stay Sober Society.

Say you know where the Stay Sober Society can meet. Recommend the Brown Residence.

Ask about delivering soup.

Offer to deliver soup.

Say you have a place where Edna can deliver soup. Recommend the Stay Sober Society.

When talking to Emmett, use the third option with every dialog selection.

The Rocket Drill

Making Fuel: Emmett has to argue with his dad, so Marty has to make the rocket fuel. Listen to Emmett for a hint on which process to click on. The four processes are: Release pressure; Feed the bacteria; Turn the electrical crank; Stoke the fire. Listen for hints like 'hot' or 'bellows' for the fire, 'feed' or 'sprinkle' for the fishtank, 'pressure' for the valve, etc. There are four stages, each faster than the previous.
Screenshot

Jailbreak

After the drill explodes, use the rockets on Edna's bike.
Screenshot

Getting the keys

Having caught up with the paddywagon, click on the doors.

Go right.
Screenshot

Click on the toolbox.

Click on the antenna.

Go back and then go left.

Use the tire iron on the spare wheel.

Go to the front window.

Use the antenna on the keys.

Go back and talk to Doc. Ask him to distract Kid.

Use the antenna on the keys.

Unlock the padlock.

Defeating Kid Tannen

Throw the hubcap at Kid.

Get his gun.

Shoot the shackles with the gun.
Screenshot

Talk to Doc and tell him to hit the throttle.

Thanks, James, for the walkthrough!

17 Comments

If you're buying the game through Steam, it does show a Mac version is available... Very much interested in checking this one out.

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There actually is a Mac version of this game available!

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I didn't play Sam & Max but the animation in this game is not great. Specifically Marty's walk animation is horrid. In terms of voice acting George McFly kinda sounds like Crispin Glover but Biff sound absolutely nothing like Tom Wilson (not even a little).

Also, the way Doc explains the reappearance of the Delorean is insulting to say the least (as it was destroyed at the end of BTTF3). The way the game started I thought was going to be a clever way to use the car as Doc and Marty effectively 'lose' the time machine, but no, this was just a dream sequence.

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Anonymous January 2, 2011 10:37 PM

Sorry to hear that Will. And I thought I heard that Bob Gale (the director) was in on this.
Actors seem to stay away from some roles, it's not TellTaleGames fault that Michael somehow didn't appear.
Though I thought it was going to be dodgy with the fact that BttF3 was like the last movie (the DeLorean is destroyed marking the end of Marty's time travelling and Doc finally gets a happy family).

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I don't care if it was an asspull, I got a laugh out of Doc explaining how he had to fight one of Biff's descendants to get it back.

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I know that you linked the Mac version to Steam, but Tell Tale does sell a Mac client through their site. All of their new games get released on Mac and they are working on Mac clients for all of their older games.

Just wanted to make sure this was known.

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"JIGuest", as I gathered from promo videos, Michael J. Fox likely would've reprised the role and did indeed give his explicit permission to use his likeliness, but "wasn't available" for the voiceovers, which is nice-talk for his illness didn't allow him to do that. He sometimes has cameos in TV series, for which I admire him.

For the DeLorean, it is a replicate. Doc still had a functioning time machine, the Train, in 1985 they were still stock DeLoreans available, and in 2015, they still sold Mr Fusions (possibly even cheaper in the later years)
Heck the very same happened in the Animated Series, which will probably be overwritten by the Game, though.
That everything down to the Flux Capacitor looks exactly the same (as far as we can even tell from the game graphics) is obviously for the sake of recognition and familiarity.

Still, I find the lack of mention of Clara and the kids weird. They don't need to be used in the game, but Doc could have at least stated that they were living somewhere, somewhen, waiting for his return only a short time after he left there.

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I can not wait (well, I will wait :P) to get this the next time it goes on sale for an affordable price (Steam sales have taken too much of my money already!).

:D

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Didn't love the camera views and there were way too many bugs with the captions and syncing of audio and animation.

I love BTTF, though. I'll probably play episode 2.

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The problem with Telltale's "point-and-click" revival is that they are constantly catering to the lowest common denominator, difficulty-wise. Inventories get slimmer and slimmer, locations get ever more constrained and the only thing you have in abundance is hints. Even if you turn the in-game hint system off you will be slapped in the face with heavy guidelines what your next move should be, and if you turn the hints on (or leave them on, since they are turned on by default), you will be served with nearly the exact solutions on regular basis.

Don't get me wrong, I bought all Telltale's offerings including BTTF, and I enjoyed each and every one of them, but I consider them to be just slightly above high-quality interactive cartoons. I like the stories, I like the voice work, from time to time I even get to enjoy a good puzzle, but I'm definitely not in it for the puzzles and gameplay. I still think they are shooting themselves in the foot by making these games as easy as possible; in the age of Internet and walkthroughs and hints always just a click away, it simply makes no sense to not only include the in-game hint system but also place the difficulty bar so insanely low.

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Back to the Future: Chapter 1 - walkthrough
Tips:

  • Some dialog will open up solutions to a puzzle, but there are often also responses that will all lead to the same conclusion. You can't lose the game, so don't worry about what dialog option you choose.

  • The game is controlled with the mouse. Hold down the left button and drag to move Marty in a direction. Hold in the right button to make him run. You can also use the keyboard's arrow keys or WASD, and Shift to run.

  • Several solutions lie in conversations. If you are stuck, explore all the dialog options.

  • The hint system scales nicely - consult it for vague tips to outright directions.

Walkthrough

Opening video

Click on any dialog options

Walk to the van and get the notebook from the toolbox.
Screenshot

Finding Doc

Doc's Notebook

Walk to the miniture of Hill Valley's town square and click on it.
Screenshot

Biff took the notebook. Walk over to and click on the amp.

Get the guitar from the box near George and use it on the amp.
Screenshot

Biff tries to take the guitar, but George stops him. Talk to George and mention Marty fighting his own battles.

Use the guitar again.

The Delorean Arrives

The Delorean arrives outside. Open it.

Get the tape recorder and listen to it.
Screenshot

Get the shoe.

Exit the Delorean.

Show the shoe to Einstein. He will lead you to an apartment.

Edna's Apartment

Hit the apartment buzzer.

Show Edna the shoe. She will invite you up.

Ask Edna about the shoe.

Ask Edna about the Speakeasy.

Ask Edna where the Speakeasy was.

Use the radiator.

Once Edna leaves the room, use the binoculars.

Marty has a year. Use the radiator again.

Use the newspaper. Marty now has a day as well.
Screenshot

Back at the Delorean, Marty will talk to George. Say anything.

Once inside the Delorean, turn on the Time Circuit and click on the Keypad.
Screenshot

Rescue Doc

Convincing Emmett

Marty will chat to Edna. Say anything.

Go to the Jail window by the Police Station.

Go through the dialog until you can ask how to contact Doc's younger self.

Get the number and go to the soup kitchen.

Use the phone inside the soup kitchen.
Screenshot

Go to the courthouse.

Talk to Emmett and mention the rocket drill. Keep pursuing him and asking about the drill until he starts threatening that harrassment is a federal crime.
Screenshot

Use the tape recorder on Emmett.

Go back to Doc and play the recording to him.
Screenshot

Go back to Emmett and give him the answer Doc gave Marty.

Subpoena Arthur McFly

Finding Arthur McFly

Go to the Shoe Shine stand.

Agree to shine Kid Tanner's shoes.

Ask about Arthur McFly.

Ask about Arthur's hat.

Ask for peanuts.

Say "What the hell is that?!"

After escaping Kid Tannen, show the hat to Einstein (by the tree in the town square). He will lead you to an apartment.
Screenshot

Getting Arthur downstairs

Ring the buzzer and talk to Arthur. He can't come down.

Go back to the town square (exit right). Walk up to Kid Tannen at the shoe polish stand.

He will chase Marty, who escapes to the roof of the gazebo. Use the tape recorder on Kid Tannen.
Screenshot

Click on Einstein. He will distract Tannen.

Go back to Arthur McFly.

Click on the buzzer.

When Arthur pokes his head out, use the recorder on him.

When Arthur comes down, serve him the subpoena.

Getting Hooch

Swapping the Soup and Alcohol

Go to the soup kitchen.

Try to open the kitchen door (far left).
Screenshot

Talk to Emmett and mention the door.

Walk towards the soup kitchen's front door. Emmett will shout "Eureka!".

Go back to Emmett. Click on the door.

Go to the counter and talk to Cue Ball (guy with newspaper).

Ask for some soup.

Recommend any ingredient. When Que Ball is seasoning the soup, click on the red pipe (far right wall).

Getting the alcohol from Edna

Edna has the hooch. Walk to the town square and talk to her.

Ask about the scoop.

Ask about the Stay Sober Society.

Say you know where the Stay Sober Society can meet. Recommend the Brown Residence.

Ask about delivering soup.

Offer to deliver soup.

Say you have a place where Edna can deliver soup. Recommend the Stay Sober Society.

When talking to Emmett, use the third option with every dialog selection.

The Rocket Drill

Making Fuel: Emmett has to argue with his dad, so Marty has to make the rocket fuel. Listen to Emmett for a hint on which process to click on. The four processes are: Release pressure; Feed the bacteria; Turn the electrical crank; Stoke the fire. Listen for hints like 'hot' or 'bellows' for the fire, 'feed' or 'sprinkle' for the fishtank, 'pressure' for the valve, etc. There are four stages, each faster than the previous.
Screenshot

Jailbreak

After the drill explodes, use the rockets on Edna's bike.
Screenshot

Getting the keys

Having caught up with the paddywagon, click on the doors.

Go right.
Screenshot

Click on the toolbox.

Click on the antenna.

Go back and then go left.

Use the tire iron on the spare wheel.

Go to the front window.

Use the antenna on the keys.

Go back and talk to Doc. Ask him to distract Kid.

Use the antenna on the keys.

Unlock the padlock.

Defeating Kid Tannen

Throw the hubcap at Kid.

Get his gun.

Shoot the shackles with the gun.
Screenshot

Talk to Doc and tell him to hit the throttle.

Thanks, James, for the walkthrough!

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Wow... this game alone is going to add TONS of new stuff to Hasslein Books' new BTTF publications!

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SonicLover Author Profile Page March 22, 2011 4:47 PM

I like the little details Telltale throws in if you miss a step when solving their puzzles. Case in point: if you do all the steps in the X puzzle EXCEPT for Q, what happens is Y. I recommend that anyone looking for a bit of humor and with some free time should try it.

X = swap-the-soup-with-the-alcohol
Q = tell Emmett to prop the door open
Y = when the barrels roll off the top, they roll across the table and back across the floor using the tables as a ramp, and fall down the crack, causing someone to yell "Ow!" below

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I enjoyed the first episode of this! although the character's lips and the dialog were off, and Marty wasn't as cute as he was in the movie, maybe I'll buy the 2nd episode! =)

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Now that I finally got the game (I played through it all last week - actually, I think it was the week before), I have to say, it was awesome. I didn't think the "puzzles" were irritatingly easy, primarily because they were just as straightforward as they needed to be without being obvious, and there's always the hint system. Also, the state of Doc's family was indeed explained in a later episode.

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