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It’s about time: Back to the Future adventure thrills gamers

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Fishville

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Hello? McFly?

It's been a long time coming -- some two decades or more, in fact -- but Back to the Future is finally getting the video game treatment it deserves.

In truth, the Back to the Future movies all had their video games,
released roughly concurrently with the flicks back in the NES and
Genesis eras. But it's been almost twenty years since the last one, and
the movies, riding a wave of combined geek-chic and '80s nostalgia, are
hot property again.

So what better time to take gamers back to the century-hopping world of
Marty McFly, Doctor Emmett Brown, and the iconic, flux-capacitor-packing
Delorean that's become as recognizable as any of the film's human
stars?

In production at adventure specialists Telltale Games, Back to the
Future's latest video game outing uses an episodic distribution model
that's become a hallmark of the developer, featuring in its past
releases like crime-fighting adventure Sam & Max and swashbuckler
Tales of Monkey Island. Rather than arriving as one complete story, the
games trickle out in monthly episodes, though gamers can buy the whole
series in advance for $24.95.

Telltale's series opens right after the conclusion of the movie trilogy. Doc Brown
has oh-so-mysteriously disappeared, and Marty's father is preparing to
sell off the good doctor's worldy possessions. Enter the Delorean,
returning from the 1930s and apparently piloted by Doc Brown's dog,
Einstein. As you may have guessed, Brown is stuck in the past, and it's
up to Marty (and, by proxy, you) to save him.

Sadly, Michael J. Fox doesn't lend his voice to his memorable role, but you
could certainly be forgiven for thinking he does. While Telltale doesn't
have his voice, they do have the rights to use his physical likeness --
and in-game Marty is voiced by soundalike AJ LoCascio, a impressively
convincing stand-in.

But there's no substitute for Christopher Lloyd, who played Doc Brown in
the movies; we'd go so far as to say it wouldn't be Back to the Future
without him. Fortunately, that wasn't lost on Telltale: unlike Fox,
Lloyd indeed voices the Doc Brown character in the games.

Broadly speaking, the first episode (which released towards the end of December) impressed critics. 1UP's Steve Watts awarded it a glowing A-,
calling LoCascio's McFly impression "uncanny," and praising the game
for its cinematic visuals and the natural way it fits into the
established world of the film trilogy.

Gamespot isn't quite so generous, marking it at 7.5/10 -- "good" -- but still clearly
feels the series opening installment is full of promise. Like 1UP (and
just about everyone else) critic Nathan Meunier is impressed with the
game's voice acting, but its short length (2-3 hours) and "easy" puzzles
obviously caused him to mark it down somewhat. Still, it's "a strong
foundation for Telltale to continue building on in upcoming episodes,"
he says, concluding "the future looks bright indeed."

Back to the Future's first episode, "It's About Time," is currently
available on PC and Mac
, with Playstation 3 and iPad releases also
planned. Its second episode should be along in a few weeks, and the
monthly releases will continue until April. $24.95 buys you the lot --
they're not available singly.

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