Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure – NES
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Developer: Rocket Science Games
Release Date (NA): August 1991
Nerd Rating: 2.5 out of 10
Alright kiddies! It’s April Foolish season, and you know what that means…
This game’s gonna be a real stinker!
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you…all the way from San Dimas, California…
Bill S. Preston and Ted “Theodore” Logan!
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I love this movie. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure. I hate this game!
This is an LJN release that I grew up with, and while I do admit a little soft spot for this publisher, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure made me understand…it made me realize why there’s so much hate.
I never got far as a child. Somehow I managed to get to the second level a handful of times – a feat that, before taking on this review, I had yet to accomplish as an adult. And here’s why…
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure is impossible. Not literally, but…I mean just play it and you’ll know what I mean. Your basic objective is to recover a Historical Dude/Babe. To do this you need to find some “bait” that is inconspicuously placed within the massive map through which you traverse as either Bill or Ted (alternating, starting with Ted). Once bait has been located you may then stumble upon one of these Historical Dudes/Babes who are hiding in some dank dwelling, doing god knows what. Wash, rinse, repeat – that’s the entire game. It’s not fun the first time and it sure doesn’t get better the second…or third time. I don’t know what happens after that; for the sake of my health and general well-being, I calmly released the controller from my menacing grip and gently switched my Nintendo off, sparing it the fate of having to run this atrocity of a game any longer.
I apologize in advance if at any point I get carried away.
When you fire up this turd you’re greeting with a fairly stupid opening cutscene. An awkwardly short musical loop that ends too soon and gracelessly picks back up from the beginning intrudes your unwelcoming ears.
We’re given a shoestring plot; this is not based on the movie, rather, it’s a new adventure where some ruffians have relocated historical figures. For what purpose? I haven’t a clue. Somehow this correlates with the Wyld Stallyns missing the concert that makes them famous. How, exactly, are the two connected? Doesn’t matter. It’s a shitty video game adaptation, what do you expect…
I’ll admit, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure does give us some interesting historical figures you don’t see in the movie, such as Confucius, Al Capone, and even Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe! And…Robin Hood? Wasn’t he a fictional character? Sure some debate exists as to who the legend was based on, but the character we know as Robin Hood…anyway…
You thumb through a phone book until you see an alternate number flashing in red. You dial the digits after hitting select, the red-headed step-child of buttons, then hit A, and are instantly transported to the Circuits of Time.
Here you play a somewhat clever and enjoyable mini game in order to direct your vessel to a predetermined time period. I say somewhat because the cursor moves so slowly in later stages, you’ll damage your controller thinking that pressing harder will speed things up. It’ll get old quick, like everything else.
Once you land you’re already in too deep. I hope you like rambling because you’re going to do this…for hours…and hours…and hours…
And no I’m not talking about my review, though it certainly feels like I could.
Good luck finding bait. It could be hidden anywhere. And I mean ANYWHERE! I had to use a walkthrough and found that each map has four baits located in designated spots. But still, I was baffled to learn some of the placements. Let’s just say, spots where you don’t think you’re even supposed to go…yeah, there’s bait there.
Oh, and by the way, even with a walkthrough you’ll be lost.
The stages are full of NPCs that are supposed to help you out by offering hints on where to look for bait and historical figures. They will give you some completely vague, ineffectual advice such as, “Look for something strange at the last fence.” Well…okay, which fence? What thing? Is it a pox? A corpse? A most excellent Van Halen tape? Help me out here!
You might as well just ignore them. Oh, but they give you stuff too, so maybe they’re good for something.
These same NPCs that offer a helping hand will turn against you on a dime. Once they’ve divulged their precious secrets or bestowed gifts upon you they begin to wander aimlessly, and god forbid you cross their path; they’ll run into you as if you don’t even exist and demand precious coin. And if that’s not bad enough, they have the gall to call YOU a clumsy oaf. Just be glad they’re not one of those zombie-like drones holding their arms out. Bumping into them results in imprisonment – no questions asked. I can’t even begin to express the levels of piss that’ll be annoyed right out of you when you’re trying to make headway, only to have your ass thrown right back in jail, forcing you to start from the beginning.
It’s just hard to get anywhere. With guards constantly throwing you in prison and no map whatsoever to guide you along the enduring stretches of road within terrain that all looks the same, the concept of progress will seem like a pipe dream. And to make matters worse these Historical Dudes/Babes have a bad case of wanderlust. So finding the bait is only half the battle. Now you have to pop in and out of doors hoping to run into one of these unruly historical figures. Oh wait, that’s not enough frustration for ya? How about making sure you found the right bait. There ya go. Now we’re balls deep in vexation.
Aside from that there isn’t much difficulty. Just a test of patience. And the challenge doesn’t really increase much from stage to stage as the whole game is kind of built around luck and being in the right place at the right time. Honestly if it wasn’t so hard to find anything you’d probably blow through Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure in 20 minutes. Artificially extending stage length by means of an impossible bout of hide and go seek does not a good game make.
Controls in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure are alright. The jump is a real pain in the gonads as a crash landing on a rock, tree, or any area outside the traversable boundaries will waste about three seconds of your precious time while the character reorients himself. And for some reason the sooner you jump again after landing the less air you will get afterwards. It’s almost as if you have to wait for your jump to recharge before you’re able to leap any kind of distance. Just try hitting the A-button twice in a row and you’ll see that your character is barely able to hop. But give a few moments between jumps and you’ll practically soar through the air. This is quite a handicap for tight situations!
To give the game due credit, it does look sharp. The characters lack faces and are pretty small, but all that aside they are nicely detailed in a fun cartoony way that pops. The coloring is appropriate – not too much, not too little. Backgrounds are graphically complex for the time, adding to an overall appealing visual presentation.
Another positive mark can be found in the dialogue. It’s fairly amusing and reminiscent of the movie. You will get a chuckle here and there, especially when you run into future you.
At the beginning of each stage you are treated to a little musical interlude that shortly cuts out, followed by silence. The kind of silence that gives you ample room to consider some of your life choices, such as buying this game. The kind of silence that haunts you. That makes you aware of how alone you really are, sitting in that dark room, playing-
As I was saying…
What little you do hear is decent. Other than that banjo music that plays during the horse and canoe sections, which seems oddly inappropriate in every stage except possibly the West. Even then it’s not quite right. And of course not one single track from the movie.
Alright, so, to sum this whole mess up…even though I played this endlessly as a child, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure thoroughly sucks. It’s incredibly boring. After a while you’ll start to feel your brain softening from playing. Really. This is the kind of game that makes writing reviews feel like a job. I actually suffered through this shit for hours to do my best to properly expound upon its faults. But I didn’t have to. The fact that I needed to use a walkthrough after years and years of playing to surpass level one should speak volumes of the quality – or lack thereof – we’re up against here.
It’s a shame too. This could have been a good game, really. There are decent ideas here. Having to find the historical figures could have been fun. The circuits of time segments are intriguing. The type of weapons you use – some as diversions, some lethal – are unique. The randomizing nature that determines which figures and what stages you play could have made for some solid replay value. There’s even a neat conversation system where you can choose what you say to people, adding a little bit of a choose your own adventure role-playing element. Only it’s pointless, for if you choose all the correct answers your reward is the same exact information you could effortlessly extract from any of the NPCs standing guard along your path. Like anything else in this NES mess, it’s a good idea on paper, but poorly executed in practice.
Bill and Ted may have passed their final history exam in the movie but they failed almost every section in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure.
I legitimately had to get some space from the game before writing this review because I was so worn out by the time I powered off my NES.
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