Marking out for Star Wars, Batman, or Doctor Who is fairly commonplace. Knowing which issue Green Lantern Ch’p made his first appearance (Green Lantern Vol. 2 #148) is, in the realm of nerd, standard. However, since I was a kid one other sci-fi franchise has stood out to me in a way that was hard to articulate until I got older. Back to the Future ages with grace; along with your maturity as a film goer, the comedy, themes, and characters of the series grow proportionately. With confidence I can say that the Back to the Future films are the most enjoyable, flawless filmic entities on the planet Earth.
That said, just as Ghostbusters has begun to see a renaissance in die-hard fandom, so too has BTTF. In conjunction with the Blu-ray release of the trilogy (awesome), Universal re-released the original film in limited locations back in October, and now Telltale has their upcoming downloadable adventure game, which is really what spawned this post. I’m as excited as the next BTTF fan that can recite every line of every film, but after seeing the trailer that was released earlier this week, I’m a tad worried as well.
Listen. I’ll play a fucking BTTF CCG if it came down to it, so the fact that we’re still unsure of the gameplay style for this game doesn’t bother me. However, after Telltale made much ado about the involvement of both Bob Gale and Christopher Lloyd, it’s horribly disappointing to see that BTTF: The Game will be defying all logic of one the most basic characteristics of Dr. Emmett Brown. The trailer suggests that the premise to the game is that Doc has mucked things up back in time and has sent a DeLorean to 1986 along with a message that begs for Marty’s help.
This premise is weak because, firstly, Doc has learned the disasters of time travel in the past three films. He’s sworn it off entirely (minus building his steam-powered train), and would most certainly never ever ask for Marty’s help out of a jam. In fact, the entire premise of Back to the Future Part III revolves around Marty heading back to the Old West to rescue Doc even though he was specifically asked not to. It’s a disservice to the characters and the films. B., this plot suggests that it offers nothing to the overall saga of BTTF. While it’s purpose is to be an adventure game, the core of BTTF remains the relationships between the characters. There seems to be no personal stake here.
One of the chapter titles is “Get Tannen!” and we do see George McFly in the trailer, but BTTF: The Game is going to be about throwing set pieces at the player. Cool new environments. That’s fine and good, but each BTTF film has an underpinning of friendship, family, and love that comes before a cool locale. One could argue that BTTF Part III took a similar approach, but ultimately that film was about love and friendship, something that is absolutely true to the BTTF name.
But who cares, right? It’s finally more Back to the Future! To some degree, I’m sure I’ll look past the illogical character choice. But when Telltale has taken so much care to cater to us hardcore fans, it’s mind boggling that they could concoct such an absurd plot. We’ll see if its justified in game, but for now it remains a conundrum.
A few months back, I took a survey regarding this game and was surprised how in-depth they were going in regards to the franchise. One of the questions was along the lines of “What would you say is essential to a BTTF story?”, with choices like “orange vest”, “Huey Lewis and the News”, and “hoverboards”, I was confident that Telltale was on the right track. It’s the small details that define BTTF for me, and every step of this survey pointed to the fact that they knew what was up.
I’m not saying to write it off or not to buy it — quite the opposite — I’m merely stating that as an enormous fan of the series, it seems strange that nobody has really pointed out this blatant flaw. Whether you agree with my musings or not, if you’re a BTTF fan, I dare you to try and watch the trailer without getting goosebumps over the opening chimes of the score.