EA Regains Common Sense, Scraps Ultracasual 3DS Game
Warren Spector's Post-Epic Mickey Project Is Ducktales

Mini-Review: Back To The Future: The Game - Episode 2: "Get Tannen!"

Get Tannen!
When we last left Marty McFly and Doc Brown at the end of Episode 1 of Back To The Future: The Game from Telltale Games for PC and Mac (and, later, the Sony PlayStation 3), Marty's adventures in 1931 with the young Emmett Brown had changed the timeline in such a way that poor Marty was starting to fade from existence.  We pick up Episode 2, "Get Tannen!", right where we left off with Marty and Doc puzzling over this latest turn of events.  A newspaper from the future changes to reveal that Marty's grandfather, Arthur McFly, had been / will be murdered by Kid Tannen as a result of Marty's past actions.  The solution is clear: Marty must go back in time several hours and prevent Tannen's goons from killing Artie.  Along the way he'll reconnect with Edna Strickland, encounter his girlfriend's grandfather, dodge his own past self, and return to 1986 to find out what happens when the Tannen family is allowed to run wild for fifty years.

Get Tannen! While the preview at the end of Episode 1 implied that this installment would require plenty of sneaking around behind the back of Marty's past self, such stealth is only required through the game's first act (and even then it doesn't seem possible to be seen by the other Marty).  Instead the game opens up and moves not in a new direction, but continues the course of events established by the previous episode.  There are plenty of new puzzles and the game stops holding the player's hand just shy of midway through the episode.  The first real challenge I noticed involved cracking a code needed to enter Tannen's rebuilt speakeasy.  A puzzle soon after that requires the player to solve one of those chain of event sequences that Telltale games do so well (Item A must be given to Character B so that Character C will talk about Solution D that's needed to solve Puzzle E that encouraged the player to pick up Item A in the first place).  It's still impossible to outright fail, as trying to pursue a bad idea usually ends with Marty telling the player "I don't think I should do that" or similar phrasing.  It's par for the course for adventure games, and since the story has to follow a single path (so there can be no deviating from the script), it works out for the best.

Get Tannen! My only real criticism here is that like the last installment, Episode 2 has a short runtime.  I finished it in just about two hours and I went out of my way to pursue every dialog tree I could find to hear all of the in-jokes and exposition.  There's plenty of fan service to fill the time with though.  Do things right and you can get Marty behind a microphone at Tannen's speakeasy to sing a little "Johnny B. Goode", listen to Doc sum up the game's five timelines (but without a chalkboard, alas), convince Biff to explain his altered family history, watch young Emmett try to get his experimental rocket car up to a blazing 23 miles per hour, and more.  In one of the most obscure gags, one of Kid Tannen's henchmen is named Zane which has to be a reference to the actor who played Biff's gang member Match in the Back to the Future films (and one of Kid's gang goes by the name Matches, too).  It's all gold for fans and I had to laugh a number of times at the mythology gags.  Still, now that I've seen more of the complete picture, I can't help but think that Episodes 1 and 2 could have been combined into a single installment given that they take place in the same setting with the same characters and largely concern the same set of events.

Once again Christopher Lloyd and AJ LoCascio have brought their all to the roles of Doc Brown and Marty McFly, and thankfully it sounds like the voice behind the Tannen clan, Kid Beyond, has picked up his own performance.  His Tannens sound especially menacing this time and he's finally picked up the necessary snarl needed to growl lines like "Make like a tree and die!".  "Get Tannen!" is a solid continuation of Back To The Future: The Game and it's recommended to fans of the franchise, but it looks like the real action is coming up next, as Episode 3 looks to move in a different direction entirely...

Get Tannen!

Back To The Future: The Game