Back to the Future Part II & III

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a game by LJN
Genre: Platformer
Platform: NESNES
User Rating: 7.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Back to the Future Games, Time Travel Games

Let's go back. No, not to the future, but back to March 1990. In that month's issue of VG&CE, Chris Bieniek gave Back to the Future, the NES game, a low rating. In his review he explained why the game was bad, concluding that many players would "likely consider it a dud." There was also mention that a game based on Back to the Future, Part II would be arriving. "Let's hope it's an improvement over the original," Chris said optimistically.

As a fan of all the Back to the Future films, I could see--to a degree--why the NES game based on the first movie was not up to expectations. Back to the Future isn't action-packed, nor does it have many key scenes that can be easily translated into a comparable video-gaming experience. But last year's adventure-filled sequel. Back to the Future, Part II, featured numerous possibilities. And, though it was less action-paced, the third and final installment that came out last summer had a great locale, the Old West.

So after much anticipation, I was excited to receive a copy of LJN's Back to the Future, Part II & III to review. Two separate games based on the films have been placed back-to-back in the same cartridge. "Wow," I thought, turning the manual's pages, "two for the price of one." Then I started playing.... Chris described the look of the original Back to the Future as a "lame Paperboy rip-off." Back to the Future, Part II & Ill not only looks, but is, a lame Super Mario Bros. , rip-off--minus the good graphics, sound/music and game play. As in the second movie. Biff Tan-nen from 2015 has gone back to 1955 with the DeLorean time machine, giving his younger self a sports almanac. When Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrive back in 1985 from the 21st century, they discover that Hill Valley has been horribly altered by an evil Biff, who has used the information in the almanac to win a fortune and build a corrupt empire. From there, the video game diverges slightly from the film's plot: The 1985 Biff--and apparently his 1955 and 2015 counterparts, too--have scattered 30 items through the aforementioned three time periods.

As Marty McFly, you must recover these 30 items and put them back in their original time periods. This will restore 1985 to the way it was and stop the unraveling of the space-time continuum. In your mission, you must also get a compass to find your way around.

Each time period is divided into 16 I levels--or "streets"--that resemble crude versions of Super Mario Bros. screens and other similar games. Objects are found behind locked doors, which can be opened only with a key. To get a key, you make Marty jump on an enemy creature, which will then sometimes throw a key into the air. Sound familiar? A few of these creatures will even release a star, which Marty can catch to attain--yes--shooting power. Super Mario Sros.-like obstacles, such as platforms moving in midair that Marty can jump on, are built into these screens as well.

Inside the rooms, you must solve puzzles (by collecting items within a time limit) before you are given the object. Then, you must find a hidden "puzzle room" and return the specified object. To complicate matters, the letters of the object's name have been scrambled.

Marty will need to jump from one time period to another to perform all these duties. This is done by calling Doc with a walkie-talkie and hopping into the DeLorean as it hovers by. After the time controls are set, it's back to the future...or the past. Performing these time jumps takes a specific number of nuclear fuel tokens, which Marty can collect throughout his time travels. But too many time jumps can have disastrous results: Marty might run into his previous self, which will create a paradox and result in the loss of one life.

Besides the extremely poor graphics, the enemies are a strange assortment of creatures that look like rejects from a Super Mario Bros. game. Where are the hoverboarding feral youths? The motorcycle gangs? Hotel security guards from Biff's Pleasure Palace? Crew-cut teen bullies? Not here. A better name for this game would have been Super Marty McFly 2 & 3.

The puzzle rooms will remind you of the old Atari 2600 games. Seriously. In addition, solving the puzzles is more aggravating than challenging. The thought of going through all 30 screens is a major turnoff. One of these puzzle rooms is entitied "That Sinking Feeling"--a feeling you'll often experience while playing. When you complete the first game, you'll move to the Old West portion, where you must rescue Doc, who's stranded there. This game is a Super Mario Bros, clone too! There are only 16 levels in this second mission and just ten items to be found and put back in place. Hence, this is one-third the length of the first game. There's little mention of the Old West game in the manual, and with good reason: It's not worth trudging through the first part for. The instructions also fail to document that you can hold down the B button, press SELECT from the title screen and then rearrange the scrambled letters to read "FLUX CAPACITOR IS THE POWER," which will take you directly to the Old West.

Then there's the soundtrack. The rousing movie score by Alan Silvestri isn't here. ZZ Top's "Doubleback" isn't here either. Instead, a mangled version of Huey Lewis and the News' "Back in Time" plays at the title. Then, once the game is started, generic Nintendo music--of the worst kind--takes over.

It's astonishing that the blockbuster Back to the Future movies--one of the most spirited adventure trilogies--have been turned into a trio of mega-lacklus-ter NES games. How this happened is probably as mysterious as the space-time continuum itself. "Great Scott!" as Dr. Emmet Brown would exclaim. When I cast aside my love for the movies, I saw Back to the Future, Part II & III for what it truly is--a turkey.

Download Back to the Future Part II & III


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • P-200, 32 MB RAM

Snapshots and Media

NES/Famicom/Dendy Screenshots