The clocks went forward this morning, but in reality we went back... Back... To The Future!
Still, what better way to use a tenuous link for an impromptu piece of blogging? And with that settled in my mind, I loaded up Back to the Future, on the Commodore 64.
Isn't he a dreamboat?
The Back to the Future game follows the plot of the film, to a degree, in that you're stuck in Hill Valley in 1955, and you need to get your parents-to-be together and get the hell out of then. Naturally, this involves picking up objects and using them in the right places. Yes.
It's not that hard to figure out the puzzles in Back to the Future... there are only five locations, and five items to be used. Even if some of them are a bit obscure... why, for instance, does the radiation suit make Lorraine stand still?... the permutations are so few that you should have it sussed in little time.
Why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here?
To make it more difficult, your time in the game depends upon the photo of your family remaining intact. In effect, this is your energy level, and it has two levels in itself. The photo of Marty decays more quickly... when it is gone, a piece will decay from the family photo. When that one's gone, you're outta time.
That doesn't sound too harsh, but every time you bump into Lorraine, the photos will decay like there's no tomorrow (which, conincidentally, there won't be if you don't complete the game). And as there are so few locations, she's there all the bloody time. It doesn't help that Biff will knock you on your arse every so often, and while you're sitting there, Lorraine is usually standing fawning over you, draining your life all the while.
Jesus, George, it's a wonder I was even born.
You can replenish your photo, though. If you should successfully use an object in the right place on the right person, that'll help. If you can get George and Lorraine to the dance hall and use the guitar, they'll have a little dance and you'll get some energy back. Hurrah!
It all sounds kinda cute, and all, but... it's rubbish. The graphics are horrible, and don't give you any kind of feeling of being in the movie. The lack of locations is a major detriment to longevity with the game, especially seeing as they're all right next to each other. The characters themselves trudge about, looking as though they wished their time was up. And the music, which could have been a high point, consists of a couple of ropey renditions of the film's songs.
The Enchantment Under The Sea Dance! Of course!
If there's a movie tie-in game that Back to the Future reminds me of, it's... E.T. What? Yep... think about it. You have a huge film, but with no obvious gameplay aspects. The game has hardly any locations to visit, and very few characters from the film. The characters in the game are very blocky and barely recognisable. A couple of the characters are huge nuisances that spoil your game for you. You could easily be reading about either E.T. or Back to the Future here. And E.T. is not a great template to use for your film tie-in game. I would hardly say that Back to the Future is a waste of potential, because it would have been hard to make a decent game out of it, but this one makes you wish that the Libyans had got Marty as well.