Saturday, December 25, 2010

First Thoughts: Back to the Future

I was really bummed about not being able to play the Back to the Future videogame, thanks to a deceptive preordering promotion.  But then I realized I had $25 on PayPal thanks to eBay sales, which was enough to buy the entire Back to the Future series.  Score!

I'll write a full review later, but for now, the thing that sticks out for me about this game is the character of Edna Strickland.  My friend Paul said that the company who made this game is weird about its characters.  That is, pretty much every character they make is a bland stereotype.  You know, the characters are all generic archetypes, like grumpy old man, the coach who loves sports too much, and the fat guy who loves to eat.  It's okay to have generic characters like that in adventure games--no one complained that Carrot in the Pajama Sam series was bad, just because he's a generic hippie--but when every character is that way, it's not so good.

Back to the Future: The Videogame looks like it's going the generic character route.  The game's villain, for all intents and purpose, is nothing more than a generic 1930's mobster.  Young Doc Brown is your generic nerd, who loves science and is scared of girls.  And the third new character, Edna Strickland, is a generic mean old lady who hates kids and loves kittens.

The 1930's version of Edna Strickland, however...I'm not sure what to make of her.  I can't tell if the producers are trying to make an original character for once, or if they wanted to do another generic character, but failed.  See, for plot purposes, she's a newspaper reporter.  As far as that's concerned, she acts just like a generic reporter. But also for plot purposes, she's big on charity and volunteer work. The game just kind of flubs along through this part, and it feels like the producers had no real strong ideas about how she should act, probably because that's not a generic character trait.

So in the end, she ends up being kind of a weird character.  It just sort of feels like they didn't know what to do with her, because she doesn't fit into an easy stereotype.  It'll be interesting to see what they do with her in the other games, to see whether they'll try to develop her into an original character, or if she'll fall back into generia.  As it is now, she's in a weird limbo between the two.


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