Back To The Future Part II (Mirrorsoft) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

Back To The Future Part II
By Image Works
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #60

Back To The Future Part II

With a blinding flash of light, an almighty clap of thunder and a not-so-spectacular clatter of trashcans, an ice-covered DeLorean appears from nowhere into a quiet street at exactly 88 mph. It comes screeching to a halt in Marty's front yard.

The Doc's back. And you, Marty McFly, have to accompany him once more into the paradox-riddled sphere of time travel. Yep, it's time to go back to the future again. The reason for all the fuss is Marty's (as yet unborn) kids. These sprogs are (or will be) in mortal danger unless he can intervene (time travel can get very confusing).

The DeLorean car that Doc has converted to a time machine whisks them both to the year 2015. Pity he couldn't have gone back to before 1980 to warn John DeLorean... Anyway, it's now 2015, and Marty must confront the evil Griff (grandson of the just-as-evil Biff), who has conned Marty's firstborn into committing a robbery. Confronting Griff is a bit silly, really, as Griff's gang chase you on their hoverboards through the streets of Hill Valley.

Back To The Future Part II

This is the first level. Riding your board, you must reach the Town Hall whilst avoiding the hordes of Griff's men, also on hoverboards. As if that wasn't enough, the roads are filled with old people with death-wishes galvanised into suicidal lunges into your path, dogs, radio-controlled vehicles and strange robot things. In fact, everything you'd expect on a 21st-century street (except cars). When you do see a car, you can grab onto it to hitch a fast ride. This is useful because virtually the whole game is played against the clock, with a countdown running in the status area in the bottom quarter of the screen.

Having reached the Hall, you progress to Level Two. This is a logic puzzle, the object of which is to free Jennifer, Marty's girfriend/wife. She is in her house, but can only leave if you manage to manoeuvre her through the rooms to the front door without meeting anybody else, such as her older self (we told you this time-travel business was confusing). This would apparently rupture the space-time continuum - painful for all. So by controlling the doors of the house in pairs, you shuffle the people around and provide Jennifer with a way out. Sounds complicated, but you soon pick it up.

Level Two, once completed, is a good way of gaining extra lives; you can do the puzzle a number of times, gaining a bonus life each time. The situation is slightly different each go, however, and is not easy.

Back To The Future Part II

Level Three sees Marty and Doc back in 1985. But all is not well. Hill Valley has become a dangerous, violent place where Biff is top dog and everyone else goes round thumping each other. It's beat-'em-up time. You must walk through this fraught landscape to the DeLorean. You have basic combat moves, but Bruce Lee you ain't, so your fighting prowess seems limited to falling on the floor and swinging your legs in wild arcs. You can use the various objects lying around, but not all are lethal. Try throwing a frisbee at someone armed with a pistol! Time is running out, so hasten along.

For some tenuous reason, Marty and Doc must now travel back to 1955 again. This is where Level Four is set. You are presented with a sliding block puzzle, the likes of which were popular in the early part of the eighteenth century (but not everywhere). It is slightly animated for extra enjoyment. Working against the clock, you must assemble a picture of Marty with his band. The time factor is the worst thing. You feel the frustration building as the seconds tick away. Beating it gives you extra lives, but you can proceed to the final level whenever you want anyway.

It's still 1955. Marty is back on his hover-board, which he obviously brought with him from 2015 (although you wonder where he hid it). He's on it now, and chasing Biff, who's nicked his car and is belting through Hill Valley in it. He has an Almanac from 2015, and is going to use it to distort that darned space-time continuum by winning vast amounts of money on bets and so on. Presumably Stephen Hawking wasn't consulted on these peculiar implications of time travel...

Back To The Future Part II

Playing this level is like experiencing time travel yourself; you feel transported back in time to Level One. But there is a subtle difference; the police are after you as well. You race against Biff to get to the Almanac first, collecting the usual energy points and fighting off Biff's cohorts with tiny punching motions.

Perhaps you're getting the idea now. Basically, Back To The Future Part II is three arcade sequences, punctuated by two logic puzzles. And that's not the most disappointing thing. The game has unfortunately been ported straight across from the Spectrum, and little has been done to improve or modify it. The arcade sections play very jerkily and slowly, and are in simple white on black. They take a long time to complete, and the first and last, hoverboard, sequences frequently involve nothing more than holding the joystick in one position with the Fire button pressed down for minutes on end. It really isn't impressive.

The Level Two puzzle is a novelty for a little while, but you soon crack the system, and it becomes routine. Level Three is a slow side-ways-scrolling beat-'em-up that would look grim enough as a budget game, let alone as part of a major, full-price licence.

Levels Four and Five are real deja-vu generators: four is a rehash of the sliding puzzle game as invented by Cro-Magnon man, and Five is really Level One again with older-looking cars and buildings.

Back To The Future Part II turns your CPC into a Spectrum as far as graphics and sound are concerned. The theme tune plays continually, and it gets maddening. Movement is slow and the games are easy to beat - yet tedious because it takes so long to do it. Occasionally, bugs and quirks appear; Marty can fly off the screen on his hoverboard never to be seen again. Good riddance.

There is an intro sequence in which Marty and Doc discuss their dire position. This can't be bypassed, so you have to bear it every time. Between each level a similar stilted conversation occurs, with the Doc updating Marty on the plot.

It's all a bit sad, really. Can this really be the same company that brought us the excellent Bloodwych barely two months ago? A BTTF Part III is promised, but perhaps Back To The Drawing-Board would be a better idea?

First Day Target Score

Reach Level Four

Second Opinion

With the best will in the world, this is a pretty dire film tie-in. The arcade sequences are Speccy graphics at their worst, and the poor playability merely adds to the general gloom.

The Verdict

Graphics 51%
N. Spectrum city.

Sonics 59%
N. The tune will drive you mad.

Grab Factor 55%
N. The stages take ages.

Staying Power 52%
N. Tedium sets in too soon.

Overall 52%
Sorry Mirrorsoft, but what happened?

James Leach

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