When you think of iconic movies from the 1980s, chances are you think of the staples like Ferris Bueler’s Day Off, Ghostbusters, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and the legendary Back to the Future. Back to the Future defined a movie-going generation. It spawned two sequels, comic books, an animated series, and of course — video games!
The first Back to the Future video game came out in 1989 by the notorious LJN, who produced several other movie-inspired games in the 1980s.
Players enter the Hill Valley world as Marty McFly, who is currently stuck in 1955. You’re on a mission to collect clocks and avoid a number of deadly obstacles in order to advance to the next level. The game does have some semblance of a plot, which is based on the first movie. Marty must rectify tampered history, and make it back to his present time before history erases him. The game also has mini-games within each level. However, aside from the names of the characters and the “plot”, there isn’t much that ties the game to the movie.
By the end of the game, players get a chance to drive the famed DeLorean time machine back to 1985, in what I can admit is a pretty cool scene in an otherwise awful game.
Aside from the DeLorean scene, the graphics in LJN’s Back to the Future are nothing to write home about. Marty is unrecognizable in his sprite form. The music — a sped-up version of “The Power of Love” (or “Johnny B Good” during the guitar stage) — will drive you to insanity. LJN did release a Back to the Future Parts II & III just one year later, and much like its first installment, players and critics alike hated the game. But just became a game is panned by critics and fans alike, doesn’t mean it won’t be worth something now!
Complete ungraded sets of this game routinely go for $50+ on eBay, while a graded 9.4 WATA copy is currently over $300 on ComicConnect. Want something that could potentially grade higher? There’s a sealed copy on eBay right now. In January of this year, a VGA 80+ copy ended at $535 on eBay. A 9.4 WATA certified sold for $2,200 in April of this year.
This indicates to me that there is long-term potential in this game. If you’re looking for a quick flip, buying a complete set and then getting it graded is the way to go. Since this market is still on the newer side, there is untapped potential with this title. You can also build your own complete copy for not a lot of money. The cartridge can be found for less than $10 in most auctions. The box and instructions will set you back around $30. This is a small price to pay, though, as this game clearly commands high prices — so you absolutely will make your money back.
I’ve talked about other LJN games in the past. The company certainly does have a reputation for releasing some of the worst games known to man. Still, there is a lot of collectability to them. The video game market is still new, so if you’re looking to jump in, now’s the time. Happy collecting!