LJN

NES Box Art: Back To The Future

Back to the Future is a 1989 video game released by LJN. The game is loosely based on the 1985 film of the same name.

The player controls Marty McFly through various stages set in 1955 in which he collects various clock icons in order to advance to the next level, and avoid the gradual vanishing of his future (indicated by a fading photograph at the bottom of the screen). If the photograph fades fully, Marty would lose a life. Collecting 100 clocks restores the photograph to its full, unfaded status. Two power-ups can help improve Marty’s control: bowling balls that can destroy enemies and a skateboard which can speed up gameplay. There are also three minigames at the end of each stage, featuring such scenarios as Marty repelling Biff Tannen’s gang of bullies from a cafe, blocking all the kisses Lorraine sends Marty (in the shape of little hearts), and having to position his guitar properly to stay in tune at the dance so George and Lorraine to kiss. 

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The Toy Water Guns of Entertech

Entertech was a subsidiary company of LJN, most popularly (or infamously) known for making low quality video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, many of which were based on popular movies in the 1980′s. While LJN is known for their video games, in actuality most of their business came from the production and distribution of toys.  During the 1980′s, they made several lines of action figures and many other toys that were very popular, making LJN a powerhouse in the toy industry.

In 1985, the company MCA Inc bought out LJN, which gave LJN the power to buyout smaller toy companies and create several subsidiary companies.  One of these companies was Entertech, founded shortly after the MCA buyout.  Entertech invented and produced a line of children’s water guns that went above and beyond the water gun technology of the day. Rather than just being your typical squirt gun, Entertech’s guns used a battery powered motor to pump and fire the war.  In addition, Entertech’s guns used detachable magazine’s filled with water, making loading realistic to a real firearm. With the electric pump, the toy guns could fire fully automatic, with a rate of around 60 squirts per minute with a range of around 30 feet. Several models were produced, made to resemble common military firearms such as assault rifles, submachine guns, machine pistols, rocket launchers, grenade launchers,shotguns, and pistols.

Entertech’s slogan was “The look! The feel! The sound, so real!” Problem was, the guns did look very real, especially with it’s matte black finish. In a few incidents, teenagers toting the toy guns were shot by police who mistook them for the real thing. Some other incidents occurred in which robbers armed with the water guns robbed stores and banks. As a result, states and local governments passed laws banning toy guns that looked like real firearms, mandating they were finished in bright colors or had an orange barrel cap so that they could stand out.  Entertech attempted to remedy the situation by finishing their water guns in different colors, or with blaze orange caps. However by then, the damage had been done. Entertechs sales decreased by 79%.

In 1990 Acclaim Entertainment purchased LJN, and decided to reduce LJN to video game production and distribution only. As a result, Entertech was sold in September of 1990, and eventually dissolved. LJN’s run as video game produced was short, as Nintendo only authorized licensed game developers to produce five games a year. LJN was eventually folded into Acclaim in 1995, and thus LJN ceased production of crappy NES game. Inexplicably, Acclaim produced a game with the LJN name brand in 2003, called Spirit of Speed 1937. It was the last LJN title.