Retro Review ‘BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 and 3’ for NES


BACK TO THE FUTURE 2&3  (NES Console – September 1990 LJN)

The Back to the Future movies captivated audiences and were box office smashes. Kids at the time were screaming for toys, games and (if parents could build a fake one) their very own real life hover board! When it was announced that Back to the Future game would feature parts 2&3 in the same cartridge, I was stoked. The first Back to the Future game had been a massive dissapointment, so there was no where to go but up right? Hopefully in this new one I would actually get some fair and decent gameplay, actually fly the Delorean (or even SEE IT!) and make up for the sins of the first one.

Boy was I wrong!

The premise is that Biff has stolen the time machine and the sports almanac for his own personal gain. However, he apparently made a lot of side trips as well and scattered twenty or so objects from 1955, 1985, and 2015 in time periods where they don’t belong and before you can get back the almanac you have to get every single one of these objects and take them back to their proper time period. You do this by beating little mini games like word jumbles, puzzles and jumping over mini lemming versions of yourself to unlock the objects. Just like the movie right? Not so much.

You, as Marty McFly, start off by leaping out of the flying Delorean on a street in the Biff-controlled alternate 1985. Now this is a really bad place that reveals the depth of Biff’s evil influence. Not only is everything colored either orange or puke-green, but hamburgers with short legs prowl the streets trying to touch you and kill you, weird fish jump straight up into the air while shooting deadly bubbles, menacing guys with flattops launch what seem to be giant stones at you without moving their arms, and perhaps worst of all: horribly alternate-1985-twisted birds with their own high-pitched noisy squeal and chase you everywhere on the screen.  It becomes extremely loud and annoying. The areas where you travel are supposed to be different streets in hill valley. But you have to use the Delorean to travel to 1955, 2015 and the alternate 1985 to access all the streets and paths unavailable in other times to unlock the mini games.  It is extremely easy to get lost in the game. There is no map feature so you have to draw your own.

The music, sounds and graphics are very 8-bit style and loud as screeching your nails on a chalkboard. The playability is the worst. Your jumps must be extremely accurate or else you will fall into pits. Oftentimes, there’s this slight screen drag that pulls you into pits, or making you miss your jump entirely. Sometimes you’ll find  a pink line (Hoverboard) and you jump on to get a few seconds of fast traveling. But not fast enough to avoid this wretchedly horrible gameplay.

I never beat the part two levels get to the part 3 section of the game.  No matter how far I got, I would have to stop eventually, for either loss of lives (though you get endless continues) or just plain boredom. If you quit, you basically have to start all over again and recollect the twenty or thirty objects in the same order. Its like putting together a million piece puzzle and stopping midway through to disassemble it only to have to put it together again and all the while, having no picture of what it looks like. It’s a big crap sandwich that you never want to take another bite of.

There is a cheat code to access part three without doing part two. (On the title screen, press and hold the B button then press the Select button to enter a Password Insert screen, enter the following: F-L-U-X-C-A-P-A-C-I-T-O-R-I-S-T-H-E-P-O-W-E-R). And part three is smaller with only ten different levels to go through, with no time traveling involved. But the puzzles are ten times as hard to solve. I’ve never beat it and gave up trying to. LJN was notorious for getting the game licenses to popular movies and delivering shoddy, horrible games as the end result. I would happily crown this game as the worst movie licensed game I have ever played. Avoid at all costs.

Grade: 0 Hoverboards out of 5

For more from the author ADAM TALLEY, including a look at his independent comic book work, visit

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About the Author

Raised primarily in central Michigan all his life, Adam is a successful writer, artist and self publisher. He is best known for his comics: PLEASANT LIFE, THE EXPENDABLES, WISE INTELLIGENCE and the upcoming ANNA POCOLYPSE. He also wrote a free online how to book called "IN THE TRENCHES: HOW TO SURVIVE AS A SMALL PRESS COMIC BOOK PUBLISHER." He also has done some pinup work for ANTARCTIC PRESS and logo designs for many other clients. He has been featured on web sites, newspapers, television and magazines talking about his work and travels around the country promoting it. He resides in Southwest Michigan.