BackToFuture Commodore 64 game

Have you seen Steven Spielberg's latest production, "Back to the Future"? If you're one of those who haven't, then you won't know the story, so here's a quick summary.

Marty, the hero of the film, accidentally gets sent back through time to 1955, still in his hometown, only thirty years earlier. He starts to unwittingly change the future. First, he meets his Daddy, who is the same age as Marty. After saving him from being hit by a car, Marty himself gets knocked down and is taken into the driver's house to be nursed.

This is where the problem really starts. The house he's taken to is where his Mother lives, and 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. If Marty's Mom 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 as Marty, you must reunite his parents. If he fails, he'll cease to exist. "Back to the Future" is an arcade adventure where the objective is to collect the correct objects and place them in the right locations at the right time.

There are five locations, with the main one being a bi-directional scrolling street that 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 is in each room, but you have to figure 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 Mom), 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 quick about the whole thing. Biff doesn't play an important part in the game but trudges around hitting people. If he hits Marty, he falls over, stunned, and has to sit down for 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 rush to the professor's house, jump into the time machine, and return to the future.

Sorry, but I 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 unsatisfying to play. 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.

If the game is completed, Marty has to start again, but this time a bigger chunk is missing from the family photograph, making the game much more difficult to finish.

Game category: Commodore 64 games

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