When fans of the time-travel trilogy first heard that the movies would be getting the videogame treatment, it's hard to know just what feelings ran through them. Sure, it's nice to see your favorite properties get attention in any form, and to have a say in the story they'll appear in, but Marty McFly and Doc Brown are immortal icons. It's always hard to trust that treasured stories won't be butchered for a buck, but fans can take another look at how the game will turn out, now that TellTale Games has released the first screenshots of their in-production episodic adventure Back to the Future.
The team that brought you Sam and Max are taking on a new kind of adventure, breathing new life into the protagonists of the film series, and giving fans another chance to revisit Hill Valley. The first look at the character designs showed that the developers were going after a certain animated style as opposed to an imitation of the real actors, and it's hard to argue that the cartoonish look doesn't fit the team's style of adventure.
Now IGN has gotten their hands on some newly-released screenshots of the game, and a few words from the developers. The screens do differ slightly from the initial designs, but the game's co-developer Mike Stemmle says there is a reason for it:
"The game visuals take a stylized approach — staying true to the essence of the source material, of course. The first screenshots here show how this is coming together, which we'll continue refining as we polish the game."
Keeping in mind that the screens are not of a completely finished product, take a look at what TellTale has in mind for the look and feel of Back to the Future:
Right off the bat, it's obvious that TellTale is not constraining themselves to copying the film's scenery or characters. The new style is present in nearly every pixel of the images, and fans should be happy to know that TellTale isn't bringing a cohesive vision that they simply pulled out of thin air. Co-creator, co-writer, and co-producer of the films Bob Gale is strongly involved with the direction of the game, and it's clear from the previous developer diaries that Christopher Lloyd isn't the only one putting his name behind the project.
The team will be connecting the release of the Back to the Future Trilogy blu-ray with the game, but it's nice to see that the game will be taking its own direction. Stemmle wouldn't release more details of which storyline the game had adopted, but did give some idea of what fans will be in for:
"The story in the game is completely new, set several months after the events of the third movie from Marty's perspective. Of course, this is a story that involves time travel, so who knows where it'll end up? We're working with Bob Gale to make sure we're delivering an authentic experience. There'll be numerous recognizable elements of course — the Hill Valley town center, the clocktower, the DeLorean, Doc's lab, and quite a bit more. And you'll see them in ways you haven't experienced before."
Even the exact type of game is still a question mark, simply being defined as an 'action adventure game.' That covers quite a large genre, so Stemmle was kind enough to give at least one more piece of information on what players will and won't be able to do when playing as Marty:
"You'll be primarily applying inventory to in-world characters and objects in the game. Marty's not much of an 'assemble three inventory items into a workable gadget' kind of guy."
They also gave fans a look at the dialogue system that the game will be implementing, which should be instantly recognizable to fans of any BioWare game, among others. At least we know one part of the game will be familiar.
Hopefully these details will tide fans of the movies over until more in-depth looks at the game become available. This game could achieve serious success if it manages to pull off a new chapter in the Back to the Future story, so the stake are high with many nostalgic fans (myself included) hoping that memories of McFly won't be tainted. If TellTale's recently released poker title shows anything, it's that the studio knows how to have a good laugh with loved characters, so the odds seem to be in the game's favor.
Without the use of a fusion-powered DeLorean, we'll all have to wait for Back to the Future to be released sometime in the winter of 2011.