[Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the August 2005 issue of GameCola, back when GameCola was published in a monthly online magazine format.]
In last month’s edition of GameCola, Matt Wright described the spectacularly shitty The Simpsons: Bart vs. The Space Mutants as having been released in “a time when licensed games weren‘t known to be rushed pieces of crap with a recognizable character or two thrown in.” From this statement, I can only assume that Bart vs. The Space Mutants was the first licensed NES game that Matt had ever played. I would argue that there isn’t a single decent licensed game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. In the last six months, I’ve already shown you a few inevitable disasters that were licensed NES games. This month I give you Exhibit H: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure.
The game is not exactly based on either Bill & Ted movie. Instead, the story is that some random “Rebel Time Vandals” have misplaced a bunch of history’s greatest figures. The vandals’ plan is to keep and Bill and Ted occupied with another adventure through time, because it would keep them from rocking. That’s about as far as the game bothers to explain.
Much like with most licensed NES games, the developers decided that Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure should have its own engine instead of recycling a good one. So once again, we get a really shitty game that couldn’t have taken more than a week to create.
The gameplay involves wandering around five different levels throughout time. You have to find the correct historical “bait” to lure the misplaced figure out of hiding. After that, you still have to find them in the right building and offer them the correct bait before they follow you back to their own time. All of this must done before you decide that playing the game would be more fun with your head in the oven.
The first level takes place in the Dark Ages, and I had to find the correct bait for King Arthur. After aimlessly wandering around the level for about an hour, I had found all four baits and finally found the building with King Arthur inside. Which historical artifact lured King Arthur back to his own time, in er…the other medieval level? A fortune cookie, a paint roller, the Holy Grail, or an Uzi? I don’t want to ruin anything for you, because if the surprises of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure are things you’re looking forward to, I can only assume that your kidnappers keep you locked in a dark cellar with only this game and a feeding tube, and I simply don’t have the heart to take that away. Besides, I assume that that’s the only situation where this game might get close to being fun.
Everything about this game is redundant. From the cutscenes between levels where you talk to Rufus then play one song in concert, to the same level that you play over and over again. There are Atari 2600 games with more variety in gameplay than Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure. There are only about eight different things that happen in the game. And they occur about 427 times each. The music is the same looped pulsing sound that even the game gets tired of. Often, the music will just stop playing until you enter a building or do something else that would change the music, had it not already ended. The extra silence actually made the sound more tolerable, so it gets points for that.
Over a decade ago, Abby Normal had this to say about Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game in a review that she wrote for GamePro magazine: “In this just slightly excellent single player roleplay/action/adventure, B&T bee-bop through the Circuits of Time via their time-travelin’ phone booth.” Assuming that she meant “shameful excuse for a Nintendo game” instead of “just slightly excellent single player roleplay/action/adventure” and instead of “bee-bop through the Circuits of Time” she actually meant to say “rape my face,” then I would have to agree with her.