Games | NES | Back to the Future

Article by Aaron Littleton? | December 21, 2010

Back to the Future

Developer: LJN
Publisher: LJN
U.S. Release: 1991
Format: NES

Attempt #8
October 15, 1965
Hill Valley, CA

The DeLorean swept low over the tree line, following the winding blacktop below. A 1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner convertible matched their course on the curving road, its chrome trim occasionally reflecting silver moonlight. Doctor Emmit Brown looked over at Marty McFly, who was strapping himself into a bungie harness.

“You know the plan, right Marty? We have to destroy that programming book!”

“Got it, Doc! Bungie down, grab the Assembly manual from Biff’s car and we’re rad. Couldn’t be easier!”

“Right, Marty! We need to make sure that book is destroyed! Don’t risk it! I’ll be monitoring from up here! Tug on the rope when you’re ready for an evac.”

Marty nodded and slipped his hoverboard over his feet. He saluted Doc and jumped out of the DeLorean’s open gullwing door. The hoverboard slowed his descent to a controlled, feather-like fall. Biff’s car, and the ground, swam up at him like a lethargic whale slowly surfacing.

Quietly, he made an easy touchdown behind the Ford, snatching desperately at the fender to equalize speed. Biff, totally absorbed in the drive, didn’t seem to notice as he began to work his way around the car, the hoverboard humming smoothly as it sped over the asphalt.

Cautiously, Marty peered his head over the side of the door, trying to locate the anachronistic Assembly book. How it had ended up in Biff’s possession in 1965 was a mystery, but the fact remained that Doc had traced its existence to a devastating event in the future; one that the time-travelling duo had to rectify. Marty spied the book at nearly arm’s length, laying in the back seat. As he reached forward, vaulting himself over the door frame, Biff’s head suddenly jerked around to stare at him.

“Klein!” Biff yelled, voice dripping with venom, even above the howl of the wind.

Marty thrust forward and grabbed the book, tugging on the bungie cord to alert Doc Brown as soon as his hand gripped the cover. Biff swerved the car, but Doc began to pull the DeLorean up, lifting Marty off of the ground and out of Biff’s reach. The night air zipping around him, Marty disappeared into the inky darkness of the sky.

The driftwood fire sparked green as Marty got it crackling to life. The roar of the Pacific Ocean along the deserted Californian beach echoed the salty winds that blew around him. He looked over and saw Doc getting the NES hooked up to a small TV installed inside the DeLorean. He walked toward the car.

“Got the fire ready, Doc.” he announced as Doc Brown began blowing on the game cart.

“Good, let me start the game up. I’ll monitor the change in real time so we can understand what we’re affecting by burning this book.” Doc slipped the Back to the Future cart into the Nintendo, and pressed start. Instantly the title screen appeared and Doc started the game, revealing the first board.

“An insipid Pac-Man clone! Can you believe it? Our movie’s great legacy spoiled by this piece of trash!” Doc grabbed the book and thrust it at Marty. “Burn this!”

Marty did as he was told, walking back to the fire and pausing briefly before tossing the book in. As the flames licked at it, the pages began to smolder and curl. Marty hurried back over to watch what was going to happen.

Doc was trying to play through the first level, a tiny DeLorean sprite driving around the maze, collecting lightning bolts and avoiding '50s-era toughs. As the book burned, the screen began to change almost miraculously, the game being replaced by the alteration of history.

“What is this?!” Doc exclaimed, “Is that you, Marty? Throwing bowling balls all hula-hoop girls and collecting clocks?”

“Look, Doc, there’s a skateboard! Grab it!” Doc maneuvered the digital Marty over the orange skateboard and the avatar suddenly sped up to uncontrollable speeds. Doc wasted no time crashing into a fence, losing a life. He shut the console off in disgust, cutting short a two-second music loop that seemed to serve as the game’s soundtrack.

“Marty, I don’t know how but I think we made it worse this time! We’ve got to find the temporal lynch pin that’s going to make this game good!”

Marty scratched his head. He was dreading what he knew he had to say next. “Uh, I don’t know Doc. This was our eighth try and nothing has worked out so far. I say we just leave it.”

Doc stood up suddenly, looking every inch the mad scientist he was. “Marty! Think of our legacy! We can’t leave this as is!”

Marty hung his head. “I’m sorry, Doc. But I’m through. The movies can stand on their own. We don’t have to be worried that this terrible game is going to drag them down.”

Doc glared at Marty for a moment, then seemed to deflate. “I suppose you’re right. People are just going to have to understand that the Back to the Future game and the Back to the Future movie are two different things!”

“That’s right, Doc! And who knows what the future holds -- maybe they’ll make a sequel and that one will be good, or at least playable.” Marty nudged Doc. “Want to go check?”

Doc stood silent for a moment, then shook his head. “Naaah. The future will be fine. I’m just going to leave things alone this time.”

Marty nodded and was quiet. The two stood for a peaceful moment, admiring the ocean.

“Wanna go race dinosaurs?”

The Doc didn’t immediately reply, but finally nodded his head. “Yeah. Yeah, I do,” he said. “Let’s go race some dinosaurs.”

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