Back to the Future (NES)

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Back to the Future
Great Scott! A shitty game published by none other than LJN!
Genre(s): Action-adventure
Platform(s): Nintendo Entertainment System
Release: September 1989
Developer(s): Beam Software
Publisher(s): LJN
Series: Back to the Future
Successor: Back to the Future II & III

Back to the Future is an action-adventure game published by LJN for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989 and developed by Beam Software (later known as Melbourne House) and based off the successful 1985 film of the same name. This game is one of the only two NES games to be considered some of the worst games of all time, with Friday the 13th being the other one.


Marty McFly ends up in 1955 and must ensure that his parents get together, or else he will cease to exist.


The main focus of the game focuses on Marty walking nonstop a road to collect clocks to prevent a picture of him fading away from existence that would symbolize his own erase from existence. There are obstacles in the game that can trip him up and cost him a life but there are power-ups such as a skateboard for increased speed and bowling balls to destroy some obstacles. There are mini-games that occur in the game that must be completed to progress and follow the movie.

Why It Should've Ceased to Exist

  1. The game is barely faithful to the movie by any means necessary.
  2. Marty looks nothing like he did in the film, as he wears a black sleeveless shirt (walking stages) and a blue suit (guitar stage) in the game instead of the blue denim jacket below an orange vest he wears in the movie. This might have been caused by a limitation of the NES system (the NES was limited to three colors for a sprite), but couldn't they have made it so that he at least wore an orange shirt, hair, and shoes, as well as his blue jacket, to make him look more like he has his famous vest?
  3. The walking levels are the bulk of the game, 15 stages total.
  4. Despite being able to increase the player's speed, the skateboard power-up is dangerous because it makes it harder to dodge obstacles.
  5. Ironically enough, the mini-games are more faithful to the movie than the rest of the game but are just horrendous:
    • The first mini-game is throwing milkshakes at Biff's goons but the aiming is quite bad. You move up and down between eight or so planes and the milkshakes do throw straight, but the isometric perspective makes it very difficult to aim perfectly at each goon. To complete the stage you must defeat 50 of the goons before they reach the counter.
    • The second mini-game involves blocking Lorraine (Marty's mom)'s kisses in the shape of hearts, by getting them to hit a beaker or book. If you miss just one, you must restart.
    • The third mini-game involves catching musical notes with a guitar to a very sped up rendition of Johnny B. Goode. In AVGN's words: Johnny B. Goode on crack.
  6. If you fail any of these three above mentioned mini-games, you have to redo the stage before the mini-game and then you are able to try the mini-game again.
  7. The final mini-game involves getting the DeLorean to reach 88 miles per hour at the end of the stage while dodging lightning. That is the complete opposite of the movie scene in which Marty drives into a lightning bolt to reach 88 miles per hour in the DeLorean and generate the 1.21 gigawatts to travel back to the future to 1985 (which, by the way, is the climax of the movie). They managed to mess up the most iconic moment of the movie. Not only that, but if you fail this mini-game, you lose the entire game regardless of how many lives you had at the end of the game.
  8. The ending consists of a single screen of text which teases the game's sequel.
  9. The only songs that play through the majority of the game are an incredibly sped-up and warped remix of "The Power of Love" that gets annoying real fast, as well as a similarly butchered cover of "Johnny B. Goode" in the second-to-last stage. It is possible those songs were deliberately twisted so as to avoid paying royalties to their use.
    • In reality, a programming error resulted in the music's tempo playing faster than intended, which implies that the game was rushed
  10. Every normal stage is identical, despite it being palette-swaps.
  11. There are no checkpoints during the levels, or continues.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Once you get the hang of the controls, the game can actually be quite fun.
  2. The minigames provide a nice break from the main game.
  3. If you know to aim for the heads of the bullies in the café, it will be less frustrating than before.
  4. The Guitar stage is the most loyal scene to the movie, it even features George and Lorraine kissing at the end.
  5. After beating the guitar stage, you don't need to worry about the picture fading anymore, though you can still collect clocks for a better score.
  6. Even though it doesn't make sense that you have to avoid lightning in the final stage, it provides a Great challenge, and the atmosphere is incredible.


AVGN Enraged.jpg "What were they thinking?"
The Shit Scale
Games that are debatably bad High level of shit contamination The very high category The severe zone Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Major code red
This game/console belongs to the "Very High Category" category of the AVGN's Shit Scale.

Bob Gale, screenwriter of the Back to the Future films, has called the NES game "one of the worst games ever," and even insisted in interviews that fans should not buy it[1]. According to Gale, LJN refused his requests to give input while the game was being developed; once he was shown the game, he asked them to make changes, but was told it was too late in the process to change anything. NES calls it "another one of LJN's games that were produced for the sole reason of cashing in on a movie".

The Angry Video Game Nerd described the game as "not being made by a human being, but having the game put into a computer to process it." He did, however, consider it a little bit better than Back to the Future II & III, if only because it followed the film's events a little more and was much more straightforward.

The Irate Gamer also called it terrible, but went as far as to kill the LJN CEO in his review.

Shane Luis from Rerez, on the other hand, in a positives video, actually enjoyed the game, and said that while it wasn't amazing, it was a fun and challenging game, and had a better time replaying it for his video than he did the first time around, and then said people misunderstood it and suggested fans of the film check it out, despite the lack of loyalty.



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