torstai 19. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - The Flintstones (1993)

Genre(s): Platform
Released: 1993
Available on: GEN
Developer(s): Taito
Publisher(s): Taito
Players: 1

A year after releasing the moderately successful The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy exclusively on the NES, Taito released another game, simply titled The Flintstones, exclusively on Sega’s Genesis/Mega Drive system. Although the gameplay’s very similar to the company’s previous installment in the Flintstones franchise, this is a whole different game, and arguably just not as good.

Random oddjobs? YABBA-DABBA-DOO!

Running seemingly pointless errands for friends and family, rescuing kids, saving the pterodactyl population from an evil witch... a busy week for Fred Flintstone, but all he needs is a nice, loud “YABBA-DABBA-DOO!” to get by.

The graphics look quite nice and the backgrounds are yummy. However, the framerate sucks balls, it’s extremely twitchy every now and then. The music’s OK, at least considering that the game was worked on by the same team that worked on the NES titles, but the sound effects are downright horrible. I feel every single jump in my temple.

Gameplay’s indeed quite similar to that of the first NES game, however there are no secondary weapons at all. You’ll have to do with your clumsy club. The collision detection isn’t quite as bad, but still bad. You can gain up to six hearts instead of five, which is good, not only because you have more health to waste, but also because, from what I’ve gathered, you won’t have to start over from a checkpoint if you have more than the maximum of three hearts in your health meter when you die – one heart simply disappears and you respawn immediately. This is an especially great feature in boss fights, which are quite tricky and a total drag to start over after a long fight. In general, they’re a lot better battles than those in the previous NES game.

In some stages, you might bump into Gazoo, who takes you to a bonus round. The idea is to simply collect as many power-ups falling from the sky as you possibly can within the invisible time limit.

"Hi. Fred Flintstone. And you _were_?"
The basic concept of the game is to do random errands for Fred’s family and friends. Usually they’ve lost something... or themselves, in the case of Fred’s hyperactive daughter Pebbles. Every stage is preceded and followed by what’s supposed to be a humorous conversation in the vintage Flintstones style; the game makes believe of authenticity, I don’t personally sense it. It’s just dialogue from where I sit, with a dry joke or two squeezed in for some measure. Anyway, most of the stages consist of basic platforming. There’s one in which you have to, umm... run (?) Fred’s car over a desert filled with cacti and other obstacles – there are some very vague shades of the jetbike race in Battletoads, but none as difficult or frustrating, the stage is quite a breeze, in fact. There’s also a mine cart ride near the end of the game, which is quite a bit harder.

The game’s biggest problem – surprise, surprise – is jumping. You can’t jump straight away after getting hit by an enemy, and that might prove to be a REAL problem, especially since there are moving and even deteriorating platforms that require you to jump at an extremely precise moment – which is a problem in itself without any further quirks. There are too much of these situations, and there are too much of all sorts of enemies around you during them. Another problem, which is tied to the previous one, is the automatic scrolling of some stages, which is sometimes plainly unfair and fatally unpredictable. The game isn’t very difficult, but some sequences just won’t cut you any slack. Crying won’t help, trial and error will. You just have to push forward and memorize every single turn and obstacle if you want to beat the game. It isn’t fun or consumer-friendly, but it has to be done.

There are indeed some really tough and extremely frustrating sequences on which whole stages are based on. The game demands trial and error, and therefore heaps of patience, but in the end, it isn’t impossible to beat. Actually, it shouldn’t take much more than an hour from a serious platformer veteran. Some of the game’s qualities outrun the NES games, but as one whole experience, The Flintstones lacks even that level of thrilling entertainment. It’s somewhat generic, there’s no real plot, the humour is bone-dry, the gameplay’s disappointing and the graphical twitches prevent smooth playability.

Graphics : 8.0
Sound : 7.3
Playability : 7.3
Challenge : 8.0
Overall : 7.3

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