Review by MTLH

Reviewed: 06/16/16

Not an essential game but fun nonetheless.

Flicky was originally released as an arcade game by Sega way back in 1984. It was ported to several Japanese computer systems before ending up on the Mega Drive in 1991, about seven years after the arcade release. Even then, Sega wasn't quite finished with the little blue bird. Flicky has since formed a part of various compilations and the character has appeared in several other Sega series, predominantly the Sonic related ones. Even so, it's fair to say that Flicky has somewhat faded from the public eye and I don't think that is entirely deserved.

I have never played the original arcade version but going by the pictures and videos, this iteration of Flicky looks very faithful indeed. Having said that, taking into account the original's age, this is nevertheless a simple looking game. The animals and objects are very small, for example, while the backdrops are quite rudimentary. Regarding the latter, it's also unfortunate that in a few of the more busy looking levels the action can become somewhat obscured.

The above doesn't mean that Flicky isn't a pleasant looking game though. The blue bird and his opponents move smoothly enough, there are a few nice little animations such as the cats eyeing their surroundings before emerging form a vent and the levels tend to be quite colourful and relatively varied. It's simply that the Mega Drive was capable of so much more than this and it wouldn't have been unreasonable to have expected some enhancements.

The soundtrack is eminently hummable and bound to put anyone but the most cantankerous in a good mood. On the other hand, it is also sickeningly sweet which can become somewhat annoying after extended exposure and seeing that there are only a scarce few tunes present here, that moment will arrive sooner than you might think. The sound effects are of the simple yet effective variety, nothing more and nothing less.

Flicky revolves around the titular bird who must rescue several chicks, named chirps here, from the clutches of both cats and lizards. How this works is that he enters each level through a door that also serves as it's exit, after which he must pick up the smaller birds and guide them back to his starting position. Dotted about the wraparound levels are chutes which produce cats and lizards who will chase after Flicky and he can fend them off by launching one of the offensive items, such as telephones and flowerpots, at them.

The chirps come in two varieties, those with sunglasses and those without. The difference becomes apparent whenever an enemy catches up with Flicky and her wards. Unlike Flicky, the little yellow chicks can not be hurt and will instead just disperse when coming in contact with a cat or lizard with the regular ones staying relatively put while the shade wearing ones will scatter about. Granted, it's not such a big difference but having the birds scatter in this kind of way makes life just a little bit more interesting and harder for the player.

This being originally an arcade game, scoring points is, if not the main goal, at least an important factor here. A higher score is awarded if all chirps are brought back at the same instance while time also plays it's part. Every few levels a bonus round pops up which sees rows of chirps being launched and Flicky, armed with a net, being tasked with catching them when they come down. Again, getting them all leads to a higher score and when enough points have been earned an extra life is awarded.

By design, Flicky is a rather floaty character to control. He reacts sharp enough but when airborne, Flicky tends to soar and glide which makes fast and precise jumping quite difficult. Seeing that he must also jump in order to launch an object at his enemies, defending yourself becomes a tad cumbersome. When confronted by more openly designed levels all this isn't such a problem as Flicky can then easily navigate the various platforms. When dumped into a more confined area however, something that will happen more frequently as the game goes along, his control quirks become more problematic. You see, besides possessing a floaty jump, Flicky also tends to bounce off surfaces. Hit a platform at just the wrong angle and he will ricochet the other way, which can be detrimental when being pursued. All this can be taken into consideration by the player and worked around but it's far from ideal.

The game consists of forty-eight stages which, when completed, loop around for another go. That is quite a large amount when you consider that the game must be completed in one sitting and that there are no continues. Practice makes perfect is a phrase that applies here though and you will get better at the game with each attempt, if not through skill than at least through memorisation. That's fortunate seeing that Flicky can eventually become very tricky indeed, both by design and via the control issues mentioned above.

Flicky isn't a long lost gem that has sunk deeper and deeper into gaming's soil waiting to be unearthed by an intrepid archaeologist. What we have here instead is a fun, colourful and addictive little arcade game with a nice concept and some minor yet potentially annoying control quirks. It's one of those games that is ideally suited to be played in between more elaborate and time consuming titles, to clear the palate so to speak. Although I wouldn't go out of my way searching for it, Flicky wouldn't look out of place in anyone's Mega Drive collection.

OVERALL: a 7,0.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Flicky (EU, 12/31/91)

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