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Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes

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Chris Bourne

For every smash hit film there's usually a computer game to match and Back to the Future is no exception to this economically sound rule. From the bonny bay of Southampton, land of Electric Dreams comes what was predictable, Back to the Future the computer game! For those people who've lived within a cardboard box in Kirkcaldy for the last year and don't know the plot it is as follows:

Marty McFly is the archetypal god-fearing, bomb-loving American kid and, due to some freak accident involving a DeLorean sporty car and an addled professor, is hurled backwards into time to his home town around the nineteen fifties. In fact it's just about the time that his parents, George and Lorraine, first got together but this is where the problem comes in, they aren't getting together and it soon becomes apparent that Marty is the person who has to perform the matchmaking since no one else seems to be. If Marty fails then by simple logic he ceases to exist and that just doesn't add to anyone's street credibility. If he succeeds, then there's a happy ending and everybody can leave the cinema with dry hankies. A happy ending is what you, playing hero Marty McFly, have to strive for.

Getting the two potential parentals together is not an easy task, especially considering that Marty's mum fancies her future son. Dissuading Lorraine's attentions and foisting her onto an unsuspecting George McFly is far from simple and the problem manifests itself as an arcade adventure using a type of mini icon system for interaction with people and objects. There are different objects to be found in the five different locations. These can be used on the five different characters that wander aimlessly within the binary backstreets. Five is obviously a significant number for the designer. Objects can be picked up, dropped and used. Objects are used on characters and result in one of three responses: run away from Marty, follow Marty or completely ignore Marty. Being completely ignored is the game's way of telling you you've done something stupid. The idea is to force George and Lorraine to spend as much time together as is possible. If they do then love will most certainly be in the air and to indicate the level of George and Lorraine's harmony, a family photo bottom right of the screen shows by its completeness how things are going. If it fills in then the game is over and everyone lives happily every after. If, however, the picture totally and utterly disintegrates then 'Game Over' throws itself into the middle of the screen.

As said before there are five locations and one main screen that gives access to the other four. This is where a majority of the action takes place. Trogging left and right causes the screen to scroll in the opposite direction with Marty to the left of centre. Along the street there are four portals to the lesser rooms, each exactly a screen in size, and these can entered by pressing up. Within these rooms are found the objects that can be used to influence the potential parents' petting patterns. Trolling along is not the only form of transport, to be the speedy man around town you can use the skateboard. With board and wheels beneath your feet you can really whizz, avoiding any trouble from Biff.

Biff is the school bully and is so called because he Biffs people. Get biffed and precious time wastes away while breath is caught. Biff can be rebiffed though since punching is something that is handily supplied to your repertoire of commands. Biff the bully and he won't be in the mood to hit anybody for a good minute or so.


'Back to the Future is a very good game IF you've seen the movie but I'm afraid it wouldn't appeal to you much if you haven't. I've noticed recently that a lot of the latest film tie-ins have actually had a lot to do with the films themselves - which makes a difference from the previous batch. I found the game hard to get used to, and a thorough mad of the Instructions is essential, but once I mastered it I felt a great sense of relief as I saw my family picture piece together. Each of the characters In the game has their own sort of personality, and I had great fun shouting at George to buck his ideas up and marry the woman who chased me round the whole neighbourhood (Hallo mum)! The playing area is small and can be explored pretty quickly once you've got the skateboard - a bit of a disappointment, although the gameplay is very good and makes up for the not so special scrolling.'

'Yet another 'game of the film' this, and as usual it's pretty bad. From the word go I was annoyed, it isn't compelling or playable in the slightest. Controlling your character is a little weird as to execute certain moves you have to press the tire button (Fist style). The graphics leave a lot to be desired, the playing area scrolls left and right character by character - to avoid attribute problems I presume. This makes the backdrops look very jerky, the characters look unreal (limbs in the wrong places etc) and they also resemble each other so much that the first few goes it's hard to distinguish between them. l wouldn't really recommend this game as it is of a very poor standard but I feel that many people will still buy it on the strength of the film.'

'As is usual with a smash hit film that's been used as an idea and converted into a game that's really awful, it will sell and sell. Nothing really new there. Back to the Future follows the same format as many other licensing deals; it has awful graphics and tactically no gameplay at all. It's very hard to believe that people have been credited for graphics and game design on the loading screen, nobody could be proud of such work.'

Control keys: cursors and Space to 'fire'
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: simple enough
Use of colour: hardly pretty, garish is a better word
Graphics: awfully animated characters plus nastily jerking background scroll
Sound: very neat title tune but apart from that there's near to nothing.
Skill levels: 51
Screens: 5
General Rating: A very expensive disappointment, and annoying to see Commodore screens used so largely on the packaging.