Back to the Future NES title screen

Honest Review: Back to the Future for NES

We’ve got to get back to the Future! (For the NES, of course.)

With the #unpopulargamingopinion tag floating around recently, I thought I would go a little more in-depth with my own unpopular opinion. Back to the Future for NES isn’t a bad game. It isn’t the greatest but it certainly doesn’t deserve the criticism it gets.

Take away the obvious movie-based plot and you have a somewhat decent vertical scrolling shoot ‘em up. Granted, you don’t start with a weapon, but if you avoid enough hits you’ll eventually pick up a bowling ball to throw around. There’s also a speed boost power-up in the form of a skateboard. So basically, this game is Gradius but instead of a ship you play as a man… Okay, that’s stretching it but you get the gist of it.


Back to the Future is broken up into four levels that contain four stages each. Three of the four stages are the top-down portions of the game I mentioned already. The last stage of the level is a special stage with a unique challenge.

In the first of the four special stages, you fend off bullies by throwing milkshakes. In the second, you reject Lorraine’s love by blocking cartoon hearts. In the third, you rock out with a guitar and collect music notes. Finally, the last special stage allows you to try to get back to the future in the DeLorean.

It’s a simple game that has a bit of variety, in terms of gameplay, but it does have some unappealing factors as well.

The same song plays over and over during the street stages. It’s reported to be the song, Power of Love …just sped up and converted to MIDI.

It’s alright at first, but it does get tiring. The first two special stages don’t have any music at all, so you get a bit of reprieve from the Power of Love track. The third special stage has a MIDI version of Johnny B. Goode, which actually sounds pretty nice. The fourth special stage just replays the Power of Love track from the street levels.

The street stages are also a bit same-y. Aside from a color swap, there isn’t much to differentiate the levels. The same enemies appear throughout the game.

The worst are the bees/birds that fly at you from every direction. You have to look out for these guys or else they’ll sneak up on you and knock you over. The enemies are also difficult to dodge, but at the same time you need to try to attack them in order to score points. If you are knocked over by an enemy, or trip on an object, you lose your power-ups.

I’ve heard people complain about the clock-collecting mechanic, but I don’t find anything wrong with it. It’s a way to keep the game interesting so you’re not just walking from one stage to another. It’s also an interesting mechanic because you’re literally finding time in order to stay alive.

The photo at the bottom of the screen acts as your timer. As the characters in the photo disappear, so will Marty. You collect clocks to prevent the characters from fading. If you collect 100 clocks, the photo will reset back to its “unfaded” state. This is helpful if you find yourself in a bind.

The last level of the game is a little unfair. As I stated previously, you drive the DeLorean through town. You need to dodge lightning in order to reach the desired speed to get back to the future. If you don’t manage to get there, it’s game over. It doesn’t matter how many lives you had, you have to start the entire game over.

The graphics are also pretty decent for the NES. I’ve seen better but I’ve also seen much worse.

Final Thoughts: Back to the Future for NES

All in all, Back to the Future for NES has a certain appeal to it. It’s one of those “it’s so bad its tolerable kind of games,” but like I said, it’s perfectly mediocre. I felt compelled to play through the entire game after I got the controls down. It has an appropriate amount of challenge for a short game.

Give it a try. You might just like it. Just play with the TV muted.

I give this game 2.5 clocks out of 5.

So with that being said, that’s just one of my unpopular gaming opinions. What are some of yours? Let me know in the comments.

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