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The Forgotten: Back to the Future

Everyone loves an established video game franchise. After all, some of gaming’s best loved characters have been going on adventure after adventure for years, prompting players to line up to reserve the next installment of Super Mario, Link, Samus Aran, or Sonic the Hedgehog. Over the years, however, some games just haven’t struck gold; they’ve been overshadowed by more popular fare that shares the store shelf or are even passed over due to something as petty as unimpressive box art or an unusual premise. They deserve to be remembered and revived, but instead they are The Forgotten.

Super Back to the Future II Back to the Future
License owned by Universal
Previous games released for NES (1985 and 1990), Sega Master System (1990), Super Famicom (1993), Genesis (1991), and PC (1990)

Movie-based video games never really turn out quite right.  Usually they are quick flash-in-the-pan releases featuring empty gameplay rushed out the development door in order to match up with the movie's release date.  Moreover, a lot of the games that are spawned from movies have little business being a game in the first place.  Take the games based on the classic 1980s time traveling trilogy Back to the Future.  Several developers took a stab at the films over the years, creating a Paperboy knock-off, a poorly executed platformer/puzzle game, a generic 2D platformer for the Japanese market, and so on.

Super Back to the Future II

Rather than reach for tie-ins with recent movies that provide poor gaming inspiration, why not reach back to a title with some untapped potential?  Jaws, Scarface, and From Russia With Love are all in development for the current generation of game consoles, so why not Back to the Future?  I want to see Hill Valley rendered as a full 3D world for an adventure game on a current or next generation console.  I want to race the DeLorean through the Twin Pines Mall parking lot to escape the Libyan terrorists.  Then I want to explore on foot as Marty McFly in 1955 and fix the damage done to the timeline, then race the DeLorean towards the clock tower just as lightning strikes at 10:04pm.

The game shouldn't just end after returning to 1985, however.  I want the complete trilogy in one game: 1885, 1955, 1985, and 2015.  Let me control Marty on the streets of 2015, exploring Biff's Pleasure Palace hotel in 1985-A, and even in some stealth objectives while trying to recover Gray's Sports Almanac in 1955.  I also want to, at times, play as Doc Brown, such as on the clock tower ledge preparing for the lightning strike in 1955 or racing to save Clara Clayton from a nasty fall down a ravine in the old west.  Naturally the game should come to a roaring finish on the train in 1885.  While there should be objectives to keep the plot on course, I want free run of the town both on foot, in the DeLorean, and on the skateboard or hoverboard.

This year is the twentieth anniversary of the release of the original film, so what better way to mark the occasion with a game that lives up to the source material?  Bring in some of the original cast to handle the voice work, perhaps even the film's writers and director to work with the development team, and crummy Back to the Future games would finally be history.