Saturday, 15 August 2015

Back to the Future (NES review)

Developer: Beam Software
Publisher: LJN Toys
Released: 1989

Back to the Future is an arcade style game that's loosely based on the 1985 film starring Michael J. Fox.


You play as Marty McFly and your objective is to collect clocks to stop the family picture at the bottom from disappearing. You automatically move forward and it plays a bit like an endless runner. There are many obstacles and enemies that you can avoid or attack with a bowling ball power-up. Occasionally you ride a skateboard which is hard to control but gives you a speed boost. Once you reach Lou's CafĂ© you take part in a Tapper style mini-game (1983, Arcades) and throw milkshakes at 99 incoming bullies; if they manage to reach the counter you're toast. The bullies move fast and it's tricky to line-up your shots as there's no lane indication or shadows to help. If you succeed it's back to the streets for more uninspired clock collecting. Eventually you'll reach the School and play another mini-game where you need to deflect hearts so you don't fall in love with Lorraine. Again, this is extremely difficult as the icons move too fast. Your prize for completing this is...more repetitive clock collecting! By this point the gameplay has well and truly worn out its welcome. In the next mini-game you deflect musical notes with your guitar to increase the love metre so George and Lorraine can kiss. It's similar to the bonus round in IK+ (1987, C64) and is moderately entertaining. The last part of the game involves more mundane clock collecting and then a final DeLorean scene where you need to dodge lightning bolts and reach the wire at 88mph. You only get one chance so if you fail you're sent back to the title screen! The level design throughout the game is repetitive and uninspired and the music is annoying!

Back to the Future screams of a quick cash-in title with little thought put into the gameplay. Almost every part of it is dull and the references to the movie are so shoehorned in that it's hard not to think the license was slapped onto another game at the last minute!



Random trivia: In 1990 Beam Software and LJN released a NES sequel called Back to the Future Part II & III.

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