For videogame fans, one of the best-remembered and oft-cited moments of Marty McFly’s journey from 1985 to 2015 in Back to the Future Part II was his encounter with a Wild Gunman arcade machine, now a vintage artifact.
Nintendo remembers it too, which probably is why it waited until this week to re-release Wild Gunman on the Wii U. The quick-draw cowboy shootin’ game hasn’t been re-released since its debut, which fell on October 18, 1985, in the US. Originally, it used the NES console’s Zapper light gun; the new version will use the Wii remote’s pointer function.
So far, only Nintendo’s European office has officially announced Wild Gunman’s availability today, which is the day on which Marty McFly arrived from 1985. As of press time we haven’t heard back from Nintendo of America about its US release plans, but it usually announces its downloadable game releases on the Thursday morning of their release.
In the famous scene, Michael J. Fox’s Marty blows away his ponchoed antagonists, but fails to impress the youngsters of 2015 (one of them played by a smaller-even-than-a-Hobbit Elijah Wood), who respond, “You have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy.”
CNN called the scene an example of the movie “getting it right,” citing hands-free game inputs like Microsoft’s Kinect. I think this misses the nuance, though, particularly because Kinect has all but died and the most popular game with today’s kids, Minecraft, has a visual aesthetic not unlike Wild Gunman—and you play it with your hands.
If you feel compelled to point out that it’s the home Nintendo Entertainment System version of Wild Gunman being re-released and not the arcade version, I might respond by pointing out that there never was a Wild Gunman arcade game, and what we saw in Back to the Future Part II seems to have been made specifically for the film.
Then again, it’s likely that these discrepancies result from the fact that we are living in the “Biff Tannen strikes it rich” timeline.