Sunday, March 20, 2016

VGR:Quickies Nintendo's Back to the Future games

Tough luck Marty! It looks like you are stuck here!

Gotta get back in time? Check these previous reviews below!

There's been several Back to the Future games around the movies' release. But believe it or not, the best game - in my eyes - never made it outside Japan for some reason (see Super Back To The Future).

Instead the rest of the world got treated to many other games... of questionable qualities....

The NES got treated by a BTTF and BTTF Part II & III games, developed by Beam Software for the dreaded publisher LJN company which probably still haunts the nightmares of a few gamers. They were responsible for several awful movie adaptations, often relying on awful gameplay and not following a single idea from the movies they were suppose to tie-in with. Meanwhile other BTTF2 and BTTF3 titles were developed by Probe Software for Sega systems.

This is a review of those first NES titles. They are cheap adaptations very loosely inspired by the BTTF trilogy, and they're probably part of the reason people hate movie tie-in games to this day.

Title: Back to the Future (1989) or simply Back to the Future (NES game)
From Beam Software/LJN 

On the Nintendo Entertainment System
Type Top-down action game/runner
Year 1989

Covering more or less the entire first Back to the Future film, this NES adaptation is pretty much the exact opposite of said film. It's annoying, boring, repetitive and a complete disaster. Great Scott!!

Remember how Marty had to run all over 1955 collecting clocks in order to prevent his future to be erased? Well, that's what the developers got out of the film.

You do get to visit several places from the film like the 1955 Hill Valley, the school and the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

Gameplay is sort of an early example of a runner game. Very reminiscent of a Paperboy, but on foot. That's right here the hoverboard is just a boost power-up you can get. The time running out is "cleverly" indicated by a fading photography at the bottom of the screen. What about enemies? Well not only does Marty face against only bullies but also bumblebees, hula hoop girls and even park benches (!). There's also another Paperboy classic, those annoying dudes carrying windows.

We're also treated to a couple of "bonus stages" inspired by key scenes from the film. Like that scene where Marty faced Biff and his gang at the café. Marty having to avoid deadly kisses from his mom Lauren. But you even get to play a rendition of Johnny B. Goode on stage!

Finally, the last stages see Marty using the DeLorean time machine in the street. But instead of catching thunder you have to avoid lightning bolts for some reason (?!) to a reach 88 miles per hour and go back to the 1980s!

The game is fairly short, if really difficult.

And let's not even talk about the very annoying and repetitive music composed by Gavan Anderson for the game. There's really only two songs from the film, Power of Love and Johnny B. Goode... if you can call those Power of Love and Johnny B. Goode...

Overall: This "Back to the Paperboy" is a pretty bad, bland, generic and boring adaptation. The controls are atrocious.

My only "favorite" part of the game is when Marty gets to run away in the DeLorean in the end like in the film. And they were even able to mess that up.

I mean, there's a reason even BTTF screenwriter Bob Gale called it one of the worst games ever made, going as far as telling fans to avoid the game. He tried given the dev team some input during the development but they just ignored him.

The game has so little to do with the film.. but wait for it, it could be even worse! (more on that below!)

I give this one a: 1 / 3 Score!

Title: Back to the Future Part II & III
From Beam Software/LJN 

On the Nintendo Entertainment System
Type Arcade action games
Year 1990

The crew that made the awful game above came back to finish the job on this license.

Back to the Future Part II & III is the 1990 sequel that covers both the second and third BTTF film.

I like the fact that this game actually contains two distinct parts to cover the plot of both films. A lot of games did that back then. Everyone's probably familiar with the film, but allow me to take you through: in the first part of the game Doc takes Marty to the "future of 2015" before they go back to an alternate 1985, then back to 1955. And yes the game actually makes use of these different eras. In the last part of the game Marty finds himself stranded in '55 again so he has to go back to 1875 (for some reason, since it clearly was 1885 in the film!) to face Mad Dog Tannen in the old west.

The game actually has a lot more in common with Bill & Ted than BTTF in my eyes. You go back and forth between those times by jumping into the DeLorean whenever you have enough gas to do so.  Once the DeLorean drops you, it's a fairly standard platformer. Only it's a fairly abstract game and has nothing to do with the movie and actually looks more like a Mario clone. You can jump into pipes, explore caves, etc.

Gameplay is not just pure platforming. Controls change (and even the character sprites change!). The main part of the game looks like any other sidescroller from that time, collecting food for health, jumping around.

In each time period you can find some era specific objects to return to the correct timelines, but to enter said objects' rooms you must find some keys first. The idea was correct, but the execution is such a chore... And these rooms are actually cloned from the Commodore 64 game Big Mac!!

There's also some hidden puzzle rooms where you have to unscramble words. Once you're read to travel through time you need to get some fuel and you can finally jump into the DeLorean and go between all 3 time periods! Did you get all that?!

Some of the best ideas this game had going for it was this original mechanic to play around time travel. You can access certain areas through different times, even plant a tree in the past to see a full blown grown tree in the future! Sadly that's the only positive compliment you can give this game since this is badly implemented and never well executed in practice. I'd imagine this idea could only work in an adventure game.

What's more, the game takes just way too long and gets tiresome pretty fast. There's not even a save or password feature!!!!!! Some ideas were decent, but it doesn't change the fact what we're left with is a really dumb badly implemented licensed game.

The only part of the game I kind of like and sort of actually looks like in the movie is the old west at the end of the game.

And music was even worse here, despite another composer Tania Smith...

Overall: Back to the Future Part II & III is not only the worst BTTF game but easily one of the worst NES titles out there.

I know LJN game can be bad, but this was way worse. It felt closer to those unlicensed ripoff games like Action 52, only it wasn't as charming and cheesy as that fake game...

It's just awful, a chore to play through...

I give this one a: 0.5 / 3 Score!

And with this I've finally reviewed every single Back to the Future video game!

I really kept the worst for last..

All in all, all I can say to all of you BTTF fans out there is to just Avoid both of these games at all cost!!

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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