Let’s talk about a little company called LJN. LJN was a toy company, perhaps best known for their wrestling figures. However, in the mid 80’s they started creating video games as well. Bad ones. You see, LJN specialized in liscensed properties… toys and games based on movies, comics, etc. Much like liscensed games today, these were typically quickly slapped together and then vomited out into stores to make a quick buck. From Back to the Future to X-Men, from Karate Kid to Crash Dummies, no property was safe. This was back in the days before the internet, so there was no way to know how bad a game was without buying or renting it. LJN preyed on kids hoping for a great game based on a beloved franchise, and it wasn’t until we played the games that we knew what we had gotten ourselves into.
1989 brought us the film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s the story of two slacker friends, Bill & Ted, who are gifted with a time-travelling phone booth. They go through time to different historical periods to get first-hand research for their history paper. It was a huge hit, and is still considered a classic by many people to this day. So naturally, there were video games… and unfortunately, some of them were made by LJN. This one in particular, released for the Game Boy in 1991, is mostly inspired by the sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
Hoo boy. I really don’t want to do this, but I might as well get it over with. It’s like pulling off a band-aid, or getting a shot.
So, there’s certainly quite a few things amiss here. For one, Ted seems to be suffering from a rather serious bone fracture in his arm. Bill, on the other hand, seems to have really let himself go.
We’re treated to an intro that goes on entirely too long. Here’s the gist of it: the evil DeNomolous has scattered things called Time Fragments all throughout time, and Bill and Ted need to go get them back. Riveting. Thankfully, the intro is skippable.
Behold, the outstanding quality of LJN.
As you can see, there’s an option for 2-player mode. I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to play this game, let alone TWO people, so I figure that doesn’t see much use.
Wow. Certainly not what one would expect. What we’ve got here is an arcade-style puzzle/platformer similar to Donkey Kong or Mario Bros. Except, y’know, shitty. Basically, you run around the level, grabbin’ balls and dodging… tiny Abraham Lincolns?
Welp, there it is. You did it, LJN. First stage, and you already broke me. Congratulations.
The gameplay is simple. Gather all the time fragments, and the phone booth appears. Get the the phone booth and the stage ends. It’s a simple game, and with a little more effort it could have even been quite decent. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Oh, and there’s a little Napoleon that throws his hat. Yeah. That’s… that’s something, alright.
The stages get more and more complex as you go on. In any other game, that might be a good thing. Here, it just means that the stages are not only monotonous, but increasingly frustrating to boot. Unlike in Donkey Kong, there’s no way to defend yourself. If there is, I have yet to come across it. So one hit kills you, and you start the level over. And that’s just great, in a game where half the enemies are faster than you.
The second world is New Mexico, not that it really makes much difference. All that really happens is that the background changes from bricks and cannons to ridiculously oversized cowboy hats and pistols.
This is also where I start to lose my patience. Honestly, I do own games worse than this, but for some reason playing this one just gives me an icky feeling. It’s like that one uncle everyone has. You know the one. The one that acts friendly enough towards you, but your parents warn you to be wary of. This game is that uncle.
I most certainly will not.
So that’s Bill & Ted on the Game Boy. It’s bad. Very, very bad. No matter how big of a Bill & Ted fan you are, do not play this game. You won’t get any feelings of nostalgia from this. If anything, you might experience a severe rash followed by violent retching. That’s all for now, and until next time…