I now have the Back to the Future theme song stuck in my head – thanks a lot Super Back to the Future 2! I know what you’re all thinking and yes, this really shouldn’t have been considered given the awful pile of tripe all previous BTTF games have been. Well, for those of you lucky to own this Japan-only release, you may be pleasantly surprised (ish).
If you’ve seen the film you’ll know what’s coming. The game follows the plot almost precisely. The graphics are extremely pretty and bring out the full 16-bit power. Marty, with his massive bobblehead, stands atop his mighty hoverboard and stays there for the whole game. What we have here is a platformer with a guy on a hoverboard. He jumps, he collects coins (which can be traded in for power-ups) and hovers really fast towards bad guys. The bosses aside (I’ll come to them later) none of the enemies remind of anything that’s in the film, although they serve their purpose.
The cut scenes are, again, extremely well detailed and coloured, with nearly every key moment in the film represented. I find it odd that this was only released in Japan as the BTTF franchise was still very popular in 1993 (when this was made) and fans would have (maybe not) killed for something resembling the film.
The sound is problematic. The music covers up any traces of any sound effects. The first couple of repetitions of the theme are acceptable – having to listen to it on a loop all the way to the end of the level (and it does this for the first few levels) is not. The later tunes are okay, have nothing to do with the film and are actually a relief.
So how does it play? Bang average, which is a vast improvement on any other BTTF game! It really does feel like Mario Bros on a hoverboard. The boss fights, mainly including the various incarnations of Biff, will delight BTTF fans. The rest will find them clunky and frustrating, although seeing Biff plough into that manure will bring a smile to anyone’s face. Some of the level design is also careless, with numerous stages containing narrow corridors with projectile firing foe – not great when you’ve only got a hoverboard bounce as an attack.
Once you’ve completed the game, and it won’t take long, there’s nothing to make you keep playing it if you’re not a BTTF fan. Having said all of that, it’s definitely worth a look, simply to banish those other BTTF game memories.