Despite a few problematic moments in both films that make me wince these days, for the most part I have a huge amount of affection for the first two Bill and Ted movies. Both time travelling opening chapter Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its more afterlife-focused sequel – Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey – are full of genuinely hilarious moments and some truly clever writing.

Back in the day, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to play the 8-bit Bill and Ted games, with the NES Excellent Adventure and the Game Boy counterpart remaining mostly out of reach for me.

Turns out, thanks to this collection of both games from Limited Run, I wasn’t missing much at all.

Known for being one of the worst third party publishers on the NES, it seemed that no license was immune from LJN’s kiss of death, with their lazy, ‘it’ll do’ attitude being apparent in just about every game they released.

Isometric title Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is no different, unfortunately. Trying desperately to be a more substantial adventure than the usual licensed platformers that were more common back in the 80s and 90s, it drowns in a sea of poorly implemented mini-games, nonsensical mechanics and obtuse objectives. It’s a terrible game by any measure, despite it at least looking the part when you first play.

Game Boy game Bill and Ted’s Excellent Game Boy Adventure: A Bogus Journey – here rebranded, for some reason, as Bill and Ted’s Portable Adventure – fails too, in several different ways.

At first, this handheld title seems like the better game – a single screen, classic arcade, platform collect ’em up, it’s playable and fun at first.

It’s all just a bit odd though; despite the text informing us that the villain of the piece is De Nomolos (the bad guy from Bogus Journey, whose name spelled backwards is Ed Solomon, one of the creators and writers of the Bill and Ted films), they spell it wrong (ruining the Ed Solomon joke) and then just plunk players into what feels like a weird, time travelling game that features characters from Excellent Adventure instead.

It just feels like it was a different, entirely unrelated game with the Bill and Ted theme very spuriously applied.

Within a few levels, the weakness of the concept is revealed and the level design drops off a cliff. It’s frustrating, annoying and straight up poorly designed, with it being possible to collect items in completely the wrong order and have no way out but to die and restart.

Restarting a stage puts you right back at the beginning too, meaning that – in a game where one hit or false step kills your character instantly – you’re forced into doing a perfect run every single time.

The presentation on the collection isn’t great either, mostly just being a few movie stills and barebones menus. Save states do thankfully exist for both games and, given the ridiculous difficulty level of them both, you’ll definitely need them.

It’s a frustratingly underwhelming collection then; there’s no good reason to bring these terrible games back aside from perhaps nostalgia for the movies themselves; that nostalgia, applied to the tie-in games, is very misplaced however.

Bill and Ted’s Bogus Retro Collection would have been a far more fitting moniker all things considered.

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