Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to Paperboy's Future

Here is some advice that could potentially save you tens of dollars. If you ever see a game with the LJN rainbow logo, especially if it is an NES game, don't buy it. I don't care if it only costs a dollar, chances are really good that the game isn't worth that much. What brings this topic on is the impressively terrible Back to the Future for NES. It was developed by Beam Software, a company that has made a lot of crap, but also a few interesting titles, such as the SNES version of Shadowrun. It doesn't really matter, it was payed for by LJN, and it is based on a movie license, so it clearly has a 0% chance of being any good.


As far as I saw, Back to the Future has one game mode and one very repetitive song. The entire experience of the movie has been distilled down to Marty running down a street and dodging inane obstacles. It is basically just Paperboy, but with a top-down perspective and nothing fun to do. Each stage is timed, and running out of time causes death. In spite of all the clocks laying around, there is no way to extend the time. There is no life bar or exact number of times that Marty can be hit before he dies, but getting hit slows him down, which will cause time to run out. Everything causes Marty to trip. Bees, pits, walls, glass panes, and people. Everything.


Collecting clocks is meant to ward off a second, less obvious, more long-term timer. There are pictures of Marty's family at the bottom of the screen, and family members will slowly disappear as the game goes on, and if they completely fade Marty loses a life. The family members will be restored when a bunch of clocks are collected, but none of this is obvious right away, and it seems like the clocks do absolutely nothing. There are apparently some mini games after the completion of some levels, but I just don't have the patience to play this game enough to get to them. Oh, and at the end of the game, the player needs to get the DeLorean up to 88 mph at a specific point, or it is an instant game over. Brilliant.


I'd like to say that this disaster was just something rushed out the door to meet the release of the corresponding movie, but it actually came out about four years after the movie, so it probably was rushed out the door because nobody gave a fuck. It is so bad that Back to the Future co-creator Bob Gale has referred to the game as “truly one of the worst games ever,” and I can't imagine anyone disagrees with him.

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