The video clip of a modification for Crysis that adds the iconic Back to the Future DeLorean time machine to the game has started imaginations spinning all over again about a hypothetical new game based on the film trilogy. Everyone seems to have their own idea, but the folks over at MetaFilter have some very complete ideas for story and gameplay that I felt were worth bringing to your attention. These are not actual games in development, of course, but still interesting in their own ways. First up, an idea from MeFier Empath that does away with Marty McFly completely.
So the first thing I'm gonna do is drop Marty McFly. He already had his own story, and it's finished. And I'd make it a GTA style open world game that takes place entirely in Hill Valley, but let's switch up the eras -- the 1920s, 1960s, 2010 and 2050. I'd start with just a bunch of kids that stumble on Doc's plans for the time machine and decide to build it themselves using info they gleaned from the internet and a used Toyota Prius -- the first part of the game is just collecting parts for the time machine while learning game mechanics and getting used to the layout of the town. They you have them start time hoping, solving crimes, getting involved with gangsters during prohibition, going to a huge open air rock festival, etc, while constantly adding new abilities and stuff to the car.
I think to really make the game worth playing, though, you have to make time travel and experimentation a pretty constant thing --- going back to the future, seeing how what you did in the past effected things, then going back and changing some more stuff, etc. And it has to be pretty forgiving so you don't get yourself into unwinnable states. I think maybe also there needs to be an antagonist -- probably some nefarious organization of time travelers that needs Doc's papers to create some ultimate time machine that will let them Rule The World.
I dunno, just thinking out loud here. But anyway, having a faithfully rendered car from the original movie in the Crysis engine is cool and all, but driving the car took up approximately 1% of the screen time of the trilogy, and the rest of it was the equivalent of adventure game puzzle solving. I'm not sure how you make Back to the Future into a game about driving around, but I'd love to hear how someone thinks that would work.
I like the idea of visiting additional eras in Hill Valley history, but I think that getting rid of the McFlys is a mistake. Imagine how Ghostbusters: The Video Game would have completely missed the point by not including the familiar characters from the films in active roles. That game is so much fun because Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and the rest of the cast reprised their characters with the latter two crafting the storyline. Had the game focused solely on new recruits running their own ghostbusting franchise, I doubt the critics would have been as kind. With that in mind, here's another Back to the Future idea, this time from MeFier Effigy2000. This one brings the Browns and McFlys back into the fold.
The game could be about Doc Brown's kid teaming up with one of Marty's kids in 2010. Doc's kid (Jules) has rebuilt the DeLorean, as a birthday gift to his dad, but he's not happy because he can't get the details to match the original just right. Marty's kid (a confident, non-loser Marty Jr), angry after a fight with his dad, suggests that they take the thing for a spin to 1985 to see their dad's when they were young, his motivation being to see if his dad was always an asshole. Jules agrees, and they travel back to 1985 where they see the events of the first movie taking place in the parking lot.
But something goes wrong. Instead of Marty going back to 1955, coming back and finding out that Doc Brown wore a bullet proof vest to survive the Libyans shooting him, both Marty and the Doc are tasered (!) by a mysterious figure wearing all black. The figure then proceeds to abduct Marty and the Doc, steals the 1985 DeLorean, and disappears in time.
The first adventure, then, is Jules and Marty Jr traveling around Hill Valley of 1985 (look out for lots of hilarious 1980s pop culture references!) to find out what they can about the Man in Black. Turns out it was Griff Tannen (from 2015), who had stolen the 2010 DeLorean that Jules had built six years later in 2016, after breaking out of jail and swearing revenge on Marty and Marty Jr for the events that saw him arrested in 2015. Turns out his intention was to go back to 1885, leave Marty and the Doc stranded there (Griff, dumb as ever, hasn't thought of the best of plans), and then return to 2015 to clear his name.
Jules and Marty Jr head to 1885 (the events take place after BttF 3), however Griff was ready for this (he's from the future so he knew this is what would happen) and tipped of Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen about Jules and Marty Jrs arrival and how he could clear his name following the events of the third movie. Held up at gunpoint, Griff and his gang steal the 2010 DeLorean and ride off with it to their hideout. After some searching, Jules and Marty Jr find their abducted fathers ("Great Scott!" + "This is heavy!") and with their help, they get the 2010 DeLorean back from Buford (who probably goes back to jail again). They deposit their dads back in 1985, and then Marty Jr and Jules fly to 2015 to get the DeLorean back from Griff.
The 2015 adventure sees them caught by future police for some minor infraction ("Boy, Hill Valley has really become a police state!" ... shades of 1984 are implied) and their DeLorean impounded and crushed into a cube. They then realize they have only two hours to stop Griff from changing the future. Somehow they stop him, Griff and his 'twin' go to jail (because the events of BttF 2 have played out essentially the same) and Jules & Marty Jr take the 1985 DeLorean Griff stole to get back home, with Marty Jr realizing how much his dad went through to ensure that the loser Marty Jr of 2015 he met never came to fruition.
They arrive back in 2010, just after they left, and Doc Brown gets his birthday gift ("It looks exactlylike the original DeLorean I built!"). Marty Jr goes home and reconciles with his dad, telling him about his adventure. Meanwhile, old Biff overhears that there's a new time machine, looks at a picture of his grandson Griff... and gets an evil look in his eye. OH YES, SEQUEL!
There's some paradox issues there that need some help, but the idea of revisiting locations and scenarios from the films is intriguing, but then again, the second film has already played that card. I do like the concept of Jules Brown teaming with Marty McFly Jr, and the Tannens are fantastic foils, but the whole thing has to be done just right in order to work. I'm confident that a new Back to the Future game will come eventually, but my hope is that it's done properly by a creative team that knows what they are doing. In the meantime, there's always hypothetical ponderings and pitches.