Back to the Future is an adventure game published by the infamous LJN for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989 and developed by Beam Software and based off the successful 1985 film of the same name. This game is one of the only two NES games to be considered some of the worst games of all time, with Friday the 13th being the other one.


Marty McFly ends up in 1955 and must ensure that his parents get together or he will cease to exist.


The main focus of the game focuses on Marty walking nonstop a road to collect clocks to prevent a picture of him fading away from existence that would symbolize his own erase from existence. There are obstacles in the game that can trip him up and cost him a life but there are power-ups such as a skateboard for increased speed and bowling balls to destroy some obstacles. There are mini-games that occur in the game that must be completed to progress and follow the movie.

Why it Sucks

  1. The game is barely faithful to the movie (freeform fuckery).
  2. Marty looks nothing like he did in the film, as he wears a black shirt (walking stages) and blue pajamas (guitar stage) in the game instead of the dotted shirt below an orange vest he wears in the movie. This might have been caused by a limitation of the NES system (the NES was limited to three colors for a sprite), but couldn't they made it so that he at least wore an orange shirt to make him look like he has a vest?
  3. The walking levels are the bulk of the game, 15 stages total.
  4. Even after the enchantment under the sea dance, Marty STILL has to worry about fading from existence.
  5. Despite being able to increase the player's speed, the skateboard power-up is dangerous because it makes it harder to dodge obstacles.
  6. The mini-games are more faithful to the movie than the rest of the game but are just horrendous:
    1. The first mini-game is throwing milkshakes at Biff's goons but aiming is very horrible. You move up and down between 8 or so planes and the milkshakes do throw straight, but the isometric perspective makes it very difficult to aim perfectly at each goon. To complete the stage you must defeat 50 of the goons before they reach the counter.
    2. The second mini-game involves blocking Lorraine (Marty's mom)'s kisses in the shape of hearts from hitting him by getting them to hit a beaker or book. If you miss just one, you must restart.
    3. The third mini-game involves catching musical notes with a guitar to a very poor rendition of Johnny B. Goode. In AVGN's words: Johnny B. Goode on crack.
  7. If you fail any of these three above mentioned mini-games, you have to redo the stage before the mini-game and THEN you are able to try the mini-game again.
  8. The final mini-game involves getting the DeLorean to reach 88 miles per hour at the end of the stage while dodging lightning. That is the complete opposite of the movie scene which has Marty drive into a lightning bolt to reach 88 miles per hour in the DeLorean and generate the 1.21 gigawatts to travel back to the future to 1985 (which, by the way, is the climax of the movie). They managed to mess up the most iconic moment of the movie. Not only that, but if you fail this mini-game, you lose the entire game regardless of how many lives you had at the end of the game.
  9. The ending consists of a single screen of text which teases the game's sequel.
  10. The only song that plays through the majority of the game is an incredibly sped-up and warped remix of "The Power of Love" that gets annoying real fast. The only other song that plays is a similarly butchered cover of "Johnny B. Goode" in the second-to-last stage.
  11. Every normal stage is identical despite other palette-swaps.


Bob Gale, screenwriter of the Back to the Future films, has called the NES game "one of the worst games ever," and even insisted in interviews that fans should not buy it. According to Gale, LJN refused his requests to give input while the game was being developed; once he was shown the game, he asked them to make changes, but was told it was too late in the process to change anything. NES calls it "another one of LJN's games that were produced for the sole reason of cashing in on a movie".

The Angry Video Game Nerd described the game as not being made by a human being, but having the game put into a computer to process it. He did, however, consider it a little bit better than Back to the Future II & III, if only because it followed the film's events a little more and was much more straightforward.

The Irate Gamer also called it terrible, but went as far as to kill the LJN head in his review.