Please don't press start. The death yodel has sounded again and that means another Rompit Review must be brought before you savage hordes. This week I vivisect the game "Back to the Future" for the NES due to popular demand from my neighbor who was all like, "Hey bro, you should check out this game. It totally blows." Then we high-fived and played air guitar hero. On hard. Like Guitar Hero, Back to the Future for the NES brings back all the elements that made the movie a classic: large bees, hula girls, and complete graphical disfigurement. Ever wonder what Marty would look like with black hair, a claw hand, and looking like he's in complete pain? Look no further than this game cart. Or your shopping cart cause we all know where you shop, K-mart shoes.
Story: I haven't watched TBS within a week so I can't exactly name the entire plot of Back to the Future off the top of my mind. Thankfully, I found the manual nestled in the skeletal hand of the internet next to the red key: "The object of the game is simple. It is based on the hit movie and it's about time&or the lack of it."
Okay, so which one is it? Is this a trick question? I'd like to know if my gaming experience will be based more on time or if I should expect it to be about the lack of it. Will I be quizzed on how to set a VCR clock or will I be constantly late for school like Marty is in the beginning of Back to the Future? No answer to this question is given as we plow on through the first page of the manual: "You have to get Marty to each of four buildings in Hill Valley, the café, the school, the dance hall and the town courthouse in order to get his parents together and you must do it before the photo of his family in the future, fades away."
As seen on the map, Hill Valley contains absolutely nothing besides these three buildings and trees. Modern day satellite photos of the region show it as basically being comprised of the same thing minus the trees. The first page of the manual continues: "Each building will contain a 'mini-game' which you must beat in order to advance in the overall game, but the real trick is getting to each of the buildings. Marty will start off on foot and the pack of bullies that have been terrorizing his dad will soon be after him. Grab yourself a skateboard and show them how a shredder from the future can move. Don't waste time, because if you don't make it to the courthouse by 10:05 Friday night, you will never get Marty 'Back to the Future'."
List of lies: Never found a skateboard, never found any bullies, there is no trick to get to the buildings, I wasted time, and I never became a shredder so I could neither show these dudes from the past how I move or reveal the secret of the ooze. If you laugh at that joke, shame on you.
Bullies are known to break laws of Space and Time.
Gameplay: The game plays exactly what you would expect from a freestyle walking simulator. Mini-games appear to break up the action so your soap shoes don't get all bunk. More of a gauntlet than the game Gauntlet, enemies charge after you in berserker fashion while the edge of the screen pushes you further and further through the street until you reach your four-way stop destination. Clocks litter the street and can be picked up to briefly restore the fading image of your ugly family that more closely resembles ASCII art than a family photo. If your family is that ugly beforehand, why Marty didn't just give up and bang his mother like we all hoped he would? Don't deny what's inside.
Instead of amping it up, the games only manage to sour your already irritable mood from marching through the streets of Hill Valley like a severely underdressed nazi. Each game carefully glosses over a plot point by turning it into some sort of activity that only a high school prep squad could generate. Throwing soda at bullies, catching notes with your guitar, and dodging hearts by holding up a plank of wood are pretty standard events in the 50s. You'd think the game designers could have come up with something a bit more outlandish and interesting.
Graphics: Trying to guess the anatomy of your enemies allows you to make interesting guesses at what they are attempting to achieve. In one particular frame you notice a blue-shirt bully that would like nothing more than to give you the unholiest of all purple nurples. On closer examination I have no clue if what's sticking out from underneath his nose is a tumor or his chin. This is fairly common for me considering my last run in with the band "Protruding Tumorchins" from Nukesoup, Texas.Back...to a sequel!
Words added to my word processor dictionary: unholiest, nurples, tumorchins, Texas.
Enemies: Born from the hell that was mashed between poodle skirts and the red scare, the fifties produces enemies the likes have never before seen in a game that has been associated with the term "adventure". All enemies can shoot little rubber balls at you based on arcane math I have yet to understand. The color of your enemies does not determine their shots, their speed does not determine if they'll shoot at you, and I honestly have no idea why they chose little blue circles. Have you ever been walking down the street and get hit with a nerf ball? I thought that stuff only happened on the news. Beyond the bullies your enemies only include guys moving invisible glass, lots and lots of bees, and an occasional hula girl. Fences, holes in the ground, and oil slicks are not enemies. They are things to trip over. I will only consider any of these things enemies if the game title is above or equal to: "Robotrippin' 2: Quest for Purple Kryptonite."
Fun: "Paperboy" without the invention of bikes or newspapers. Apparently back in the 50s, kids didn't have bikes to propel them around so they had to rely on their wits and the constant push from the edge of the screen.
Defining Moment: Perhaps it's just how I've been raised but whenever I see exclamation points used on every sentence I always imagine them being yelled at me by Christopher Lloyd. How ironic.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
The Rom Pit is dedicated to reviewing the most bizarre and screwed up classic console games from the 1980's, the ones that made you wonder what kind of illegal substances the programmers were smoking when they worked on them. Strangely enough, the same illegal substances are often necessary to enjoy or make sense of most of these titles. No horrible Nintendo game is safe from the justice of the ROM Pit.