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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
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Rich Pelley
Chris Bourne

Back To The Future II, eh? You can hardly have missed it, can you? The computer game's been fairly high profile too - we had JDs Megapreview a few issues back, and now it's on the cover, there's a review in the mag (and you're reading it) and blow me down if there's not a mega-demo on this month's Smash Tape too! (In fact, at this rate you probably know more about the game than I do, which is a bit of a bummer 'cos I'm the one who's meant to be writing this pesky thing!) Oh well, on with the show...

Film tie-ins, eh? Not an easy thing to do, I can tell you - especially with a film as complicated as Futsie II. Y'see, the movie kept jumping about time and space so much it was hard to come up with any one sequence to represent it. There was only one thing to do - take the "let's get lots of different sections from the film and cobble them together into a large (muitiload) jobbie instead" approach. And has it worked? Well, hold your horses - I'll tell you in a minute.

There's a huge plot behind this, which is kind of important if you want to know what you're doing (and why), but a bit boring (and impossible to explain) if you don't. So I'm not going to bother - if you want to find out then rent the film (it's just come out on video) or check out the Megapreview in YS 54. Sufficient to say, it all involves you (as Marty McFly) and your pal the Doc flipping backwards and forwards in time, trying to sort out the massive mess that your time-travelling antics have inadvertently caused in the lives of both your parents and their pals (in the past) and your children (and their pals) in the future.

But what do you get? Well, first up there's a neat little animated graphic of the flying De Lorean whizzing about the screen, and then we're straight into the first game sequence, the flying skateboard chase. The screen scrolls nice and smoothly (but not particularly quickly) from left to right (and diagonally as well at times) as you bomb about on your futuristic deck, dodging bully Griff and his mob and trying to knock them off their boards. I'm not going to describe it to you any further - check it out for yourselves on the front cover demo. Suffice to say, it all plays quite smoothly, and has a natty little animated sequence where Griff and his posse crash into the Town Hall at the end as well.

Level Two's a sort of bonus round. Jennifer (your girlie) has fainted and been found by the police and taken back to her house. Only one problem - she's already there. (Confused? You will be.) You have to stop Jennifer from meeting her future sell you see, or any of the other three people who share the house, which would make an even bigger old pig's ear of things than they already are.

You take a bird's-eye view of the proceedings in this level, with the two Jennifers and the other occupants all wandering from random positions around the house. Your task is to guide the old Jennifer out without her meeting anyone else (if she does you fail) by simply opening and closing doors to direct everyone where you want them. All this boils down to is a simple little puzzle - loadsa colour, and a cheery little break between levels.

Blimey. Level Three already, and Marty and the Doc reckon they've sorted everything out, so off they trot back to good old 1985. Now here's the clever bit - listening carefully? (We'll be asking questions later.) Whilst Marty was busy trying to rescue Jennifer, Biff (Marty's Dad rival, and Griff's grandad) borrowed the time-travelling De Lorean from 2015, to take an almanac (a sort of diary jobby with lots of interesting things in) back to himself in 1955, thus enabling him to 'predict' the future and become vastly rich 'cos he can tell what's going to happen. Cunning, eh? So when Marty arrives in 1985 he finds it all quite different. For example, he no longer lives in the same house, Biff rules the town, is married to Marty's Mum, and everyone else is really rather horrible.

Marty's got to get the almanac from Biff (so he won't be able to see into the future anymore) by simply duffing up everyone in sight, and eventually Biff himself. Yes, it's a beat- em-up. You can kick and punch as things scroll from left to right, and pick up sticks and things to try and disarm the baddies with (though you can't use their guns). I thought there was a bit of a lack of fighting moves here (apparently 'cos Marty isn't a fighting sort of chap) and it's all a bit on the hard side, but it's colourful enough I suppose. Still, Renegade it ain't.

More plot now I'm afraid, and this bit's even more confusing that the last. Marty decides he can't stand it any longer, so he reckons it's time to cash in his chips by jumping off the roof of Biff's casino. Luckily, the Doc clambers into the time-travelling car just in time, zooms up and Marty falls into it instead. (What a lucky chap he is.) Anyway, they decide the best thing to do is to go back to 1955 to stop Biff giving himself the almanac, so (hopefully) everything will get back to normal. Eventually everyone ends up in the 'Enchantment Under The Sea' Ball, where Marty watches himself playing the guitar to get his parents back together (a scene from the first film).

And now (hurrah!) we get one of my fave bits from the game. Remember those little games where you had to slide squares around to make a picture? Hours of fun. And this is exactly what we've got here. You have to reassemble this pic of the band who are playing on-stage. The whole thing's animated so prepare to be confused further (if that's possible), whilst a beepy rendition of everyone's fave, Johnny B Goode, clinks away in the background. Yep, it's fun, fun, fun all the way.

Finish this bonus bit and it's onto another hoverboard chase, much in the same vein as the first although everything looks a bit different seeing as it's 1955 this time. Reach the end of the level, and there's a great bit where Biff gets covered in vast amounts of horse manure. Ha!

And that's the game (in theory anyway). But what do I reckon? Well, firstly, it's a multiload affair (six on the 48, three on 128). No, no, calm down. I mean, what else could they have done? If they'd cut down each level to make it fit in one load everything'd be crap for sure. And if they'd concentrated mainly on the one hoverboard level everybody would've complained about that too. So let's not make a meal of it, eh? (Although I must admit it's bloody annoying waiting all day for each level to load.)

As for the actual game itself, well, it's good fun and quite varied, and I like the way the whole thing sort of hangs together. It's a bit of a shame that you can't practice each level individually though, 'cos some of us may never get on to the later ones and are bound to get a tad bored with the first hoverboard bit after a while. But never mind. I still like it. It's playable, it's fun, it's addictive. What more is there to say? if this sod of thing's your bag, and if you like the film, then you can't really go wrong. (But whatever you do, don't go away thinking that's the last you'll be hearing on the Back To The Future front, oh, ho no. There's the video and then the final instalment of the movie to final come - and the game of the third film to boot, as the naff plug at the end of the game 'gently' reminds us. Ho hum.)

Massive multiload film conversion, very faithful to the complicated film, and full of variety. We like it.


Banner Text

This is you, cunningly skating along the pavement to avoid getting clobbered by Griff's gang. Watch out for the old ladies or you'll knock 'em down! (Just my little joke - there aren't any really!)

The skateboard sequences - probably the most famous bits from the film, and repeated twice in the game. This is from the first level - the other has a '50's feel.

Keep an eye on these helicopter jobbies - they drop collectable doobries (like extra energy and stuff).

Eek! It's a horrible baddie! Go away! Go on! Shoo!

Screenshot Text

A-ha! Here we are in one of the game's two puzzle sequences. It's the 'Enchantment Under The Sea' Ball, where you've got to slide bits of the main pic around until it resembles the one on the left. Sounds tricky enough, until you realise each bit is rather cleverly animated, so whole thing's as confusing as anything. Yikes!

Look out, mate! There's a bullet about to hit you on the bonce!