You can’t fool me twice, LJN.
DEVELOPER: Beam Software
RELEASE DATE: September 1990
In Back to the Future II & III, Beam Software decided to stick with the movie’s stories this time around, and not have the game be about collecting clocks. You play as Marty again and your goal is to retrieve Biff’s almanac and throw it into Mount Doom. The gameplay is similar to the Goonies II, in that you’re never really sure where you are. You need a solid map system to remember where anything is. Pipes lead to puzzle rooms, if they lead anywhere at all. Basically, it’s a free-for-all. You’re given absolutely no direction whatsoever at the beginning of the game and your only hope, if you don’t have the instruction manual or an FAQ, is to bounce wildly in the air, collecting nuclear bombs and pizza slices.
Other than feeling lost in the wilderness, how does the game feel, look, play? Mechanics, like the last game, are surprisingly OK. It’s not gonna win any graphics awards, but no one expected it to (it would be nice to see some more well thought out backgrounds, other than neon signs that say “Biff”). Control is a little slippery. Marty does this weird lurch maneuver every time he jumps and if you watch it, it throws you off balance. Music is… better than the first one, but I’m not sure what that means.
I’m not sure how bad Back to the Future II & III actually is. It’s not fun, but it does everything it’s supposed to do… I think? Did people enjoy this game when they were kids? Did they make maps of everything, and chart where they were supposed to go at what times? People did it for Goonies II, Zelda, Metroid, and others. Who’s to say they didn’t do it for this one? Then again, this game doesn’t capture any of the charm or spirit of the “Back to the Future movies,” and isn’t that really what a movie license is about? Whatever the game’s supposed to do, it didn’t capture my heart, and that, friends, is what it’s all about.