Back to the Future III review –

Developer: Probe   Publisher: Arena Software   Release: 1991    Genre: Action

Back to the Future is one of the worst NES games of all time. Some might even say it is one of the worst games of all time. And you know what? I would not argue with them. When we think of why licensed video games have such a bad reputation that game is one of the reasons why. I honestly do not know why I expected a different result with Back to the Future III for the Sega Genesis. Folks this one is bad. Forget the NES game; I can truly say this is one of the worst games I have ever played.

Back to the Future III is a multi-genre mashup much like the NES original. There is only one true side scrolling stage as the game also sees you ride a horse to catch an out of control carriage, participate in a shooting gallery, and throw pies at bandits. I will give it credit for the variety in gameplay styles. However every single aspect of the game is broken on a fundamental level. I am absolutely baffled that the game was allowed to release in this state; I fucking refuse to believe anyone involved in its creation thought the game is playable as it is. Let’s go through it step by step.

The first thing you will notice is how dark the game is. No your TV settings are not broken. The game really is that dark which makes no sense. The graphics are unbearably ugly. On the first level alone the screen is visually busy and does an awful job of defining background objects from the foreground that you can avoid. The rest of the game feature ugly dithered artwork and janky sprites with robotic animation. And don’t get me started on the terrible rendition of the movie’s soundtrack. This is a D class effort all around.

The first level is the worst one and the most difficult. Imagine if the Turbo Tunnel was the first level of Battletoads and you have an idea. Here you chase Clara’s runaway carriage to prevent it from falling off a cliff. This is a simple obstacle course as you leap over rocks and carts, dodge boulders, and shoot flying tomahawks and bees. The problem is the game runs too fast. You have a second at most to react to each obstacle and the game delights in throwing two or three at once or in rapid succession. Trying to jump over a rock while ducking to avoid an oncoming boulder while shooting the incoming tomahawk is frustrating and the level is full of this. Memorization is the only way to win and even then it still comes down to luck. Few will pass this stage and it gets worse from here.

The shooting gallery is the only part of Back to the Future III that is halfway decent. Here you control a first person cursor to shoot targets and achieve a score of 50000 or more to move on. Of course the game does not tell you this but that is par for the course. There are plenty of targets so the goal should be simple. But the terrible hit detection is what will stimmy your efforts however. It is all over the place. I have shot targets dead center and missed while being wildly off target and it registers. There is little rhyme or reason to it but I can at least say that this part of the game is mildly fun.

The fun does not last however. The pie throwing segment is simply awful. The goal is simple: there are six cowboys who appear in different parts of the environment. Your job is to defeat all of them with pies. The problem is the controls are terrible. The isometric controls make no sense and trying to line up pie shots is absolutely frustrating. Having to return to the table to replenish your supply while dodging enemy fire should not be this aggravating. Technically this should be the shortest section but due to the horrible controls it can potentially be the longest. This should have been an easy slam dunk yet somehow they messed it up.

Finally they saved the best for last. In the game’s finale you must detach all of the train cars and activate the engine to return to the present. But once again the controls are awful. Marty is slow to respond and drops like a brick after jumping. The slightest touch will send Marty tumbling and sent back to a checkpoint. The sluggish control means even something as simple as jumping over a cloud (yes really) is troublesome. The time limit is tight and even a few falls will ensure you won’t be able to finish. You won’t need the insane level of memorization of the first level to succeed but it is still harder than it should be. Even the NES game at its worst at least nailed the fundamentals. You can’t say the same here.

In Closing

Back to the Future III is a terrible game with no redeeming qualities. Everyone involved in its creation should be embarrassed. Forget this one exists; you will be better off.

Post Author: lordmrw

I’m just a dude who has been playing video games for over 30 years and want to share my extensive knowledge with the masses.

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