Back to the Future: The Game- Episode 1: It's About Time
Your DeLorean awaits.
Great Scott, this Back to the Future series is off to a wonderful start. Telltale Games moved one step closer to making us forget about those awful NES titles with Episode 1: It's About Time, which just hit the iPad for $6.99. If the word "McFly" fills you with joy, there's little reason to avoid this homage to the beloved Robert Zemeckis trilogy.
You'll feel right at home with this game, regardless of whether you played previous Telltale adventures, notably Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island. It's a point and click interface, as you guide series hero Marty McFly through different environments, interacting with different items to complete objectives. Puzzles tend to be on the easy side (a hint system will point you in the right direction), but it's still a fun ride while it lasts.
Of course, a big reason why we love this game is the nostalgia. The developers respected the source material and created a world populated with familiar looking characters like Marty and his pal, the crazed Doc Brown, both of which bear striking resemblances to Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, respectively; Marty's dad and franchise villain, Biff Tannen, also make an appearance. In fact, Telltale convinced Lloyd to reprise his role (he did an excellent job), while voice actor AJ LoCascio does a phenomenal Marty impersonation. Complement these fine performances with music from the movies, and it's almost impossible to resist.
There's even a new story. The game takes place six months after Back to the Future III, as Marty hops into the iconic DeLorean and visits the prohibition era to save Doc. That means you'll meet new characters, including one of Biff's relatives.
Episode 1's entertaining, but it's also an obvious port of the PC version. There's noticeable lag, especially when making selections, while the music and voices occasionally skip a few beats. Meanwhile, the interface remains perfect for a mouse, but not optimized for touch controls because everything is so bunched together; you may accidentally tap the wrong option.
As for the conversation tree, it doesn't affect the game much, if at all. Things won't dramatically change because you selected a negative response over a positive one. That makes it feel like more of a novelty than something that alters the outcome.
There's also a matter of length. You can plow through Episode 1 in a couple of hours, but it's still time well spent, and the impressive presentation and story will keep you glued to the screen the whole time. Back to the Future can't escape its issues, but Telltale managed to do what few publishers have achieved: do a movie franchise justice. Now give us Episode 2.
Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.
What's Hot: Excellent voice acting with Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, familiar music from the films, classic point and click puzzles, original story that extends the trilogy.
What's Not: Obvious performance issues, lots of easy puzzles, interface not optimized for the iPad experience.