Have you seen Steven Spielberg's latest production Back To The Future? If you're one of those who hasn't then you won't know the story, so here's a quick precis. Marty, the hero of the film, accidentally gets sent back through time to 1955. Still in his home town, only thirty years previously, he starts to unwittingly change the future. First of all he meets his Daddy, only he's the same age as Marty. After saving him from being hit by a car, Marty himself gets knocked down, and gets taken into the driver's house to be nursed.
This is where the problem really starts. The house he's been taken to is where his Mother lives (only she's young and very pretty). When she sees Marty lying on the bed unconscious she falls in love with him, and history starts becoming very muddled. You see, if Marty's Mummy falls in love with Marty she'll never fall in love with Marty's Daddy, and consequently Marty will never be born - oh dear, migraine time. Eventually Marty does get his parents back together and returns to the future.
The game closely follows the plot of the film. Playing Marty, you must reunite his Mummykins and Daddypoos - if he fails then he'll cease to exist. Back To The Future is really an arcade adventure where the object of the game is to collect the correct objects and drop them in the right place at the right time.
There are five locations, the main one being a bi-directional scrolling street which has four buildings, a cafe, the professor's house (he invented the time machine), the dance hall and the school. All the buildings have a door, and entering through one leads you to a single room inside. An object relevant to the game resides in each room, only you have to work out which object does what. Marty can only carry one thing at a time, but when he's carrying something, one of the five icons at the top of the screen becomes highlighted, so you know which of the five items he's carrying.
Trudging around the town are the four main characters from the film. Lorraine (Marty's Mum), George (his Dad), the school bully (Biff) and the professor. Some objects have an effect on the characters, for example collecting the alien suit and using it on Lorraine makes her stand still so you can collect another object and use it on her.
Throughout the game a timer, in the form of two slowly decaying photographs, one of Marty and the other of him and his brother and sister, slowly ticks down. If Lorraine gets near Marty then the photograph decays a lot faster, so you have to be pretty quick about the whole thing. Biff doesn't really play an important part in the game, but trudges around hitting people. If he hits Marty then he falls over, stunned, and has to sit down a while to recover (meanwhile the photographs are merrily decaying).
If you manage to use an object at the right time then the photos begin to regenerate, and once they have become whole, Marty can whizz to the professor's house, jump into the time machine and whizz off back to the future.
If the game is completed then Marty has to start again, only this time there is a bigger chunk missing from the family photograph, making the game far more difficult to finish.
I loved the film, but wondered how they could make a game out of it, after all it has nothing to do with computers or the like. Well, Electric Dreams have tried to capture the atmosphere of the film, but really all they've produced is a limited and very mediocre arcade adventure. The graphics are awful, with unimaginative backdrops and sprites which look as though they're about to fall flat on their faces.
The sound's annoying too; a dull version of a tune from the film plays throughout the game and there's little or no spot FX. Oh, well, not so much back to the future, more like back to the past.
I haven't seen the film so I'm not going to make silly comparisons. But I have seen the game and deary oh me, it's bad. People just don't seem to be able to learn, but I just can't think of any film-to-game conversions that have been anything but tacky. You can't teach an old dog new tricks as the saying goes.
Anyway, meanwhile back at the game... The sprites don't walk, they wobble and jibble, and they're fat. Since the sprites are expanded, their pixels are awfully fat, the people look like something fallen out of a legoland set. Rocksoft have supplied the music and it leaves you wishing they hadn't.
It just seems so gauche in comparison to the majority of today's offerings. It's a real shame to see something of this calibre arrive from Electric Dreams since they have real potential, it's just time they realised it.
Cough! Choke! Gak! Ugh! Sputter! Sorry, but I just have to get rid of the bad taste that Back To The Future has left in my mouth - it is awful!
I found it dull, uninspiring and generally dissatisfying to play. And, to make matters worse, it is both visually and aurally offensive. Electric Dreams can certainly do better, as demonstrated by their amazing Amstrad release Spindizzy, so it's about time they made a start.
Comprehensive instructions and pleasant screen layout.
Sub-standard crippled sprites and dull backdrops.
Poor interpretation of the film's tunes.
Any interest generated by the film is soon overcome by disappointment.
Limited locations and little to do make this a right little boredom generator.
Value For Money 29%
For the same amount of money, you can go and see the real thing and still have enough change for a reasonable night out.
The film is great. More than can be said for the game.