torstai 19. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy (1992)

Genre(s): Platform
Released: 1992
Available on: NES
Developer(s): Taito
Publisher(s): Taito, Mattel
Players: 1

YABBA-DABBA-DOO!!! Who can honestly claim not to like The Flintstones? It’s actually quite amazing that even though licensed games based on even the oldest comics and cartoons, for example Little Nemo, came out of some kind of a tube in the late 80’s and early 90’s, there weren’t a lot of games based on this modern prehistoric family. In the 90’s, however, especially after the release of the first live action movie, some disturbingly bad Flintstones games began to breed. Taito was responsible for the better ones.

A journey through time? YABBA-DABBA-DOO!

Dr. Butler, a mad scientist from the far future, travels through time to Bedrock and kidnaps Fred and Barney’s pet dinosaurs, Dino and Hoppy, to establish an exhibition of prehistoric animals back in his time. He also destroys Gazoo’s time machine to prevent any rescue attempts and hides the parts of the device all around the land. The Flintstones and Rubbles split up in an effort to find the missing scrap of the time machine, and travel to the future to rescue their pets.

The game is very true to the style of the original cartoon, it looks very nice. It could be animated a bit better, though, it looks pretty stiff from time to time and the quality of the framerate varies. The music... well, there’s the Flintstones theme song, got to love that one and sing along even if it is just a high pitched MIDI version. The background music, at its worst, is quite damn horrible and repetitive. That don’t mix with the lengthy stages.

One of the Enemy's prizes, a kangaroo-like
dinosaur. Damned if I know some practical
use for him.
Although both of the families are doing their best to find the missing parts of the time machine according to storyline, you play as Fred Flintstone all the way. No multiplayer, no special tasks, just platforming and clubbing everything that comes your way, as good ol’ Fred. Barney, Wilma and Betty will eventually show up and join you after giving off a clue to their stage or just flapping their gums for nothing. The game is non-linear, but to a very short extent. There is one single point in the beginning of the game in which you can choose which way to go, but you still need to beat every stage in the game to find every part of the time machine. The parts are concealed by bosses. With the exception of one single stage, each has a boss fight. They’re pretty simple and can be won in several straightforward ways, but there’s usually some sort of tactic that stands out among the rest.

Your primary weapon is Fred’s trusty club, which you can charge up by holding the attack button until the meter at the bottom of the screen is full. Due to the bad analogy of the club, I’ll get to that soon enough, you should also look into your secondary weapons. The way to use them is shamelessly stolen from Castlevania. You have a stone hatchet, slingshot and an egg bomb at your disposal. You activate the secondary weapons by collecting coins, which are equivalent to the hearts in Castlevania. Even the button combination to use the weapons is exactly the same: Up + B. The thing about secondary weapons, as well as extra hearts in your health meter – brought on by a curious item I simply can’t name just by looking at it – is that they magically disappear each time you die. So, when you’re in a boss fight in which your club is not enough, it’s just tough luck if you die and lose your much more convenient secondary weapon, and your sufficing maximum health. You either find a way to club the bastard, or quit the game. The world is evil.

Dr. Butler, a stereotypical mad scientist.
So what is it about the club? First of all, the collision detection in the case of the club sucks some hairy ass. You know you hit your target, the game missed it. The club has a short range and it’s difficult to use when you’re jumping. Randomly it even cuts off your jump, usually at the worst possible moment. The jumps in general are something you might expect from a well-eaten guy like Fred; quite pathetic. That’s bad, considering that there’s going to be a lot of jumping that requires good timing, especially in the “ice age” stage – why in the HELL does every platformer need to have one? The vertical jumps ain’t too bad, ‘cause Fred has the welcomed ability to hang and hoist himself up to higher levels, but this advantage isn’t always at hand in the case of horizontal jumps. Some horizontal traps near the end of the game are even downright impossible to survive perfectly unscathed.

Across the land, there are bonus stages in which a bald, rude non-canon character simply called “Enemy” challenges Fred to one-minute rounds of basketball (or basketrock?) with the stipulation that if Fred wins, he gets a prize – a special method of transport which can be used in stages by summoning Gazoo. It’s extremely easy to win each one of the bonus games, even if they get “harder” on every round. Why not just hand over the prizes if the games are this easy?

Once you learn everything there is to the efficient use of weapons and the minor problems in playability, the game will be over very quickly. A couple of bosses are really tough, especially if you have any trouble with getting the right kind of weapons to go with the fights, and at least the ice stage will probably give you a lot to worry about, but I’m sure you’ll do fine, eventually. The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy isn’t bad at all. A bit stiff in every single meaning of the word, but a formidable, entertaining platformer nonetheless.

Graphics : 8.4
Sound : 6.8
Playability : 7.7
Challenge : 7.3
Overall : 7.7


The Flintstones was created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera in 1960. The original cartoon ran for six seasons, from September 1960 to April 1966.

The Great Gazoo came along in the beginning of the show’s final season as a recurring character. In the game, he is a central character, simply referred to as “Gazoo”, and his personality is different.

The main antagonist Dr. Butler and the “Enemy” character were created exclusively for the game.

George Jetson, the main character from Hanna-Barbera’s The Jetsons – the futuristic counterpart of The Flintstones – makes an appearance in the final stage. He was presumably added into the game to promote the NES game The Jetsons: Cogswell’s Caper!, which came out later in 1992. The background music of the final stage is The Jetsons’ theme tune.

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