Review by tafffer
Fun arcade style platform action game, which boasts a diverse amount of variety in design.
THE FLINTSTONES (GENESIS)
Maybe it wasnt the most red hot license doing the rounds in 93', but coin-op maestros Taito decided to bring the animated stalwarts to Segas 16-bit wonder in the guise of this some what unassuming platform caper. Though, what lay beneath the glance is something magic within the belly of the beast.
In terms of the games plot, well, theres not much of one. Basically, the various chief characters, Wilma, Barney, Pebbles et all, have each misplaced an item. So, before each level, one will approach you (Fred) to go out and recover it for them. There is some minimal dialogue, in the form of text at the lower part of the display, and it is some times obvious that it has been translated from Japanese, and the queuing is often a bit fast as a result. Yabba-dabba-doh!
As you might expect from an arcade style platform game, the controls are dead simple. Guide Fred around with the d-pad, jump and attack with two buttons. Everything is responsive, and there are absolutely no fiascoes in this department.
Okay, so the crux of the game-play is as simple as most other platforms, you guide your character around the play field, thump that nasty, jump, collect that health or power-up, etc., but what raises The Flintstones above most of its platform brethren, is the sheer variety in design from one level to the next
The game moves along very well, and this is attributable to Taitos experienced designers and coders. One minute your negotiating jumps over chasms being created by an overly persistent shark, then the next minute your gliding through the air on the back of a bird creature. Other design elements like utilising some of the nasties to make progression, e.g. snakes that become platforms, and a big beast that you manipulate to smash through to a new area. There is just so much to grab your attention.
The next level shifts to a completely different setting, this time, under water, and this is because you are recovering Barneys fishing hook, so there is some times cohesiveness between the story and level design. In this section, you contend with squids with blowing fans, and you have to carefully negotiate spike-laden passages, pesky schools of fish, and deal with jelly fish that can disable the lighting, effectively blinding you.
Another level sees you at the back cart of a runaway (literally) train, and you have to battle your way along to the front.
There is a guardian at the end of each stage, and I found them to be often quite reminiscent of designs from previous Taito games such as Rainbow Islands and Snow Bros etc.
The visuals here are solid, and like some of Taitos arcade titles from the late eighties, the colour schemes appear some what washed-out, with more subtle variances in tonality.
Special effects routines are conservative and sparsely used throughout. This means the scenes arent overly chaotic, and dont draw attention away from the action. Some examples are the swirling formations in the background of the underwater level, and some parallax scrolling clouds in one of the orthodox platform sections. They are quite typical fare for Genesis, but add a touch of spice to the proceedings.
All the licensed characters that appear are well drawn, and instantly recognisable. The sprites in-game sport a decent number of frames each, and is of good size and detail. The variety in the enemies is better than you might expect as well.
I wouldnt say the environments looked directly influenced by the cartoon show, obviously there is the whole prehistoric theme, but there are only some visual touches peppered about that have a definite Flintstones flavour, but even then, there is an overall eastern feel to the look of the designs.
The scrolling is very smooth, and the game conducts itself well even during the more busy screens. I only noticed the occasional minor stall on the odd occasion.
In terms of sound, its honestly not real good. The rendition of the theme music at the start doesnt sound too hot, and other in-game tunes are instantly forgettable. The sound effects are equally cack, sounding like they were taken out of a NES game, with some very uninspired fizzles and pops. Looking for something positive, its still better than nothing.
Last-ability is a bit on the weak side as well, as there are only about six levels. There are three difficulty levels, but I personally found beating the game once on normal was enough. There are some secret places to find in the levels, among some other minor incentives, but overall its too linear for repeated play.
For me, The Flintstones game evoked a lot of fond recollections of past titles from years gone by, such as Sonic the hedgehog, Joe and Mac Caveman ninja, Rastan, Prince of persia, Bonze Adventure, New Zealand story, and many others.
To sum it up, this is a great arcade style platform romp that moves extremely well, and doesnt get stale and boring because the game is always presenting you with different play elements and greatly contrasting level designs. Admittable its a bit on the short side, but its a fun ride while it lasts, and you dont have to like the Flintstones to enjoy what it has to offer. Check it out.
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