Back to the Future: Back in Time!
“Last night, Darth Vader came down from Planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out, that he’d melt my brain.” -George McFly
Well, we certainly don’t want that to happen! Help George avoid this improbable fate, connect him with Lorraine, and save Marty and the rest of the McFly family.
Step into the roles of our famous time-travelers in Back to the Future: Back in Time, a cooperative adventure for 2-4 players ages 10 and up, developed and published by Funko Games. It takes around an hour to play.
Setup in Back to the Future: Back in Time is fairly involved, so we won’t get into the details here. Once the central boards (there are three) are in place, the card stacks are in place (there are six!), all of the items and people are put in place, and each player has their board and tiles, you’re ready to go.
Back to the Future: Back in Time has three primary goals you and your friends will be juggling.
First, you must collect the three parts of the DeLorean and fixit in Doc’s garage. Then, you’ll need to move the DeLorean to position and keep it there until the game ends (10:04 PM!)
Finally, you’ve got to keep Biff away from George and Lorraine, who you need to get together! The McFly family picture will fade away if they don’t fall in love.
Turn Tracker Phase
A 21-space turn tracker drives Back in Time. Every player begins their turn by moving the turn tracker cube to the next space and acting on the icons below it. This includes drawing trouble cards or movement cards, and checking the Love Meter to see how George and Lorraine are doing.
Trouble cards present new challenges that have global effects on the board unless you clear them (more on this later). Only one trouble card can be on the board at a time, so if it’s time to draw another one, discard the first.
Movement cards contain movement instructions for George, Lorraine, Biff, or a combination of them. Typically, George and Lorraine will move in opposite directions (kids are dumb, you guys). Biff will always move toward the closest of the other two. If Biff is already in the same space as George OR Lorraine, lower the Love Meter instead of moving him.
Checking the Love Meter
You might want to get George and Lorraine together, but Biff has other ideas. If the Love Meter isn’t in the Heart Zone, you’ve got problems! Flip over one of the picture tiles that shows part of the McFly siblings. If the Love Meter is negative, flip two. If ever you flip the last (sixth) tile over, you’ve lost.
After performing the actions on the turn tracker, it’s time for the Action Phase. Use the tiles on your board (and your player power) to move, attempt challenges, and use item cards.
Although George, Biff, and Lorraine can only circle the Town Square, you can cut through it. Flip a tile over to move into position, in order to…
Challenges drive the rest of the game mechanics. Flip Power Tiles on your board over to build your dice pool to attempt these challenges:
- In the same location as George AND Lorraine? Attempt a Love Challenge by rolling hearts (more on pink dice!). Success increases the value on the Love Meter. They need to fall in love for you to win!
- In the same place as the DeLorean? Attempt a DeLorean Move Challenge by rolling Speed symbols (more on yellow dice).
- How about Biff? Attempt a Fight Biff Challenge by rolling Courage symbols (Blue dice, now). Knock Biff down so he can’t catch up to George and Lorraine,
- Move to a DeLorean Part and attempt a Prepare DeLorean challenge by rolling Knowledge Symbols (green dice!). You need to gather the three DeLorean Parts to move it into position.
- There are always three Opportunity Challenge cards on the board. Move to one and roll whatever dice you need to get the listed symbols. If you’re successful, gain the reward and draw and place a new Opportunity Challenge card
- Remember the Trouble cards from the Turn Tracker? Once again, move to those cards and attempt the challenge to clear them and remove the global effect.
Wild icons (the lightning bolt) can serve as any icon you need as part of your roll, too. Once you’ve exhausted all of your Power Tiles and Item Cards, end your turn and flip them all face up.
You and your team will need to keep the love alive while getting the car back together and into position to be successful, and to travel Back to the Future!
Back in Time is very definitely a game that is designed to cater to a mass-market audience that recognizes the intellectual property of Back to the Future and wants to relive some of that same experience. It’s a fun co-operative game that reminds you of some of the events of the first movie in the trilogy.
We were excited to open the box and see the gorgeous flux capacitor on the back of the play board. We were even more excited for the incredible cover of the rulebook. Unfortunately, that’s where the excitement ended. The rest of the art in the game is… fine. It gets the point across, but nothing wowed us like those first two images.
The gameplay loop is definitely fun, but begins to feel repetitive after a while. It especially stinks when cards that come up (especially movement cards) that immediately undo something you’ve been working to achieve. As we noted above, you use the Challenge System for everything. It’s a lot of iteration on the same general mechanic; it would have been nice for there to be some more variance.
Finally, hardcore fans will be disappointed at some key alterations. Jennifer and Einstein the dog are playable characters in the 1955 setting, but they never go back in time in the movie. This departure from the movie was likely to make the game more playable (which is often a good idea) but depending on your level of fandom, it may prove to be bothersome to you.
We found our kids weren’t super attached to the game, but they also haven’t seen the movie. Unfortunately, this suggests the mechanics alone might not be enough to keep a younger player’s interest.
For those of us who do remember the film, Back to the Future: Back in Time is a fun romp through a memorable setting in a legendary intellectual property. It eschews a hard faithfulness to the movie in lieu of making the game more fun, which may or may not work for you. If you think you might want to pick this up based on the theme, just be aware of these differences.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Back to the Future: Back in Time from Funko Games for this review.
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Back to the Future: Back in Time
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 10+
Playtime: 45-60 minutes