Format: Sega Master System
Developer/Publisher: Probe Software/Image Works
Year Released: 1991
Also released on: Commodore Amiga, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, PC, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
Now available on: Nothing
On 29th October 2015, we officially entered the future. That was the date that Marty McFly time travelled to in the 1989 movie, Back to the Future Part II. To celebrate the fact that the present is now the future, or the future is now the present, I’m going to treat myself to a hoverboard. I believe Amazon are trying to shift a few. Conveniently, this event also brings me onto this review. It’s not of Back to the Future Part II though, as I played that game as a youngster and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Instead, it’s of Back to the Future Part III.
Hmmmm, I think I got away with using that slightly tenuous link to introduce this review.
I’ve never actually watched the movie in full, which is quite an achievement seeing as it seems to be broadcast every other weekend on ITV2, in between Jurassic Park and Scooby Doo. I have caught bits of it though - some of the end, some of the beginning, some of the middle. I get the general idea that it involves Marty going back to wild wild west times to rescue Doc Brown in the past, and there’s a bit involving them needing to get their car fixed to get back to the future. Or was that the first film? Could be both. After playing this game, I don’t think it matters at all whether or not you have seen the film. It appears to be loosely based on three scenes from it.
Yes, three scenes. That’s all. And each scene depicted isn’t spread across multiple levels. You just get one level for each scene. If you’re any good at mathematics, you’ll have probably worked out that this means that the game contains only three levels. Three levels for £25, or whatever it cost for games back then. A bargain. In modern money with inflation, tax rises and suchlike, that’s probably about £180 now.
But, it might just be that those three levels are three of the best levels in any game ever made. In which case, it doesn’t matter that there are only three of them. They are so great that you can play them over and over again and indulge in their quality for all of eternity. Unfortunately the reality is that they’re all a bit shit.
|Bang bang. That reminds me. Has Chitty Chitty Bang Bang been on this Christmas?|
Level one sees you controlling Doc Brown on horseback as he chases after some woman called Clara who appears to be getting dragged away in a horse and cart. It’s called a buckboard according to the game. To prevent her from being dragged over the edge of a cliff, Doc must catch up with her by leaping over hazards or shooting anything dangerous-looking, like cowboys and birds. He can also collect items, although I haven’t got a clue what any of them actually are or what they do. This level is extremely tough as you don’t have time to react to the appearance of an enemy. Instead you have to remember what’s coming up by playing the level over and over again. Additionally, the controls require you to jump at exactly the right moment over chasms and hazards to avoid your horse coming to a sudden stop and flinging you over his head. Eventually you’ll get it, but it makes the level more a test of memory than of skill.
|That's for stealing my steak bake. And don't think you're getting away so easily either, other birdy.|
A little box at the bottom of the screen displays your progress in your rescue attempt of Clara, but you only appear to need to get half way across the display to complete the level. Either the programmers got bored and decided to end things at that point, or they forgot to come back to add the second half of the level to it. Whatever happened, it’s probably not a bad thing that such a horrible level appears to be over prematurely.
|Plate tossing fun ahoy|
|Duck! Not you. The ducks. You stay standing, I've got to throw a plate at you!|
|What are you doing lion around there? Get it? Lion? Lying around! Never mind.|
|Ooh, the number 131. I'll mark it off my trains in games spotting list|
|Don't mind if I do Mrs Patmore|
Bizarrely, from memory this game appeared to be quite well-received on its original release. I’m know that the video game versions of Back to the Future Part II were panned by critics, and rightly so because it’s garbage, but this one seemed to be more highly regarded. I don’t know why though. It’s awful. If you’ve got five minutes to spare, do anything but play this game. Phone your mum, make a cuppa, read another article on this website, sit and meditate, find pleasure in your own company. Anything but this.
|Like and share if you agree.|
PRESENTATION: 65%A lengthy introduction of still images and text explains what’s going on, with similar intermissions between levels. The scenes are quite well-depicted in these bits with characters looking quite similar to their movie counterparts.
GRAPHICS: 76%Large sprites and detailed screen layouts which reflect the game’s themes quite well, although it’s not always clear what some things actually are.
SOUND: 56%Forgettable but inoffensive music. Sound effects are nothing special too.
PLAYABILITY: 33%Frustrating from the start, a pain to control and, when you’ve mastered it, you can play through it in five minutes, less if you skip through the cut scenes.
OVERALL: 36%The definition of the phrase “lazy tie-in”. Just three short unenjoyable levels which are an insult to gamers and fans of the film. The only thing I gained from it is learning what a buckboard is, and I’m not even sure if the word was made up for the film or is a real word.
Can't be bothered the five days until ITV2 are due to show another repeat of the film? Watch me play through the game. It's almost the same thing, but only five minutes long!