This article was originally published at Sega-16.com
Though the Flintstones is a cartoon from before my time, I was still familiar with it as a child due to the regular repeats on morning television. I enjoyed the show but mostly just as something to pass the time until Ninja Turtles came on. My first experience with a Flintstones video game was the entertaining NES gem, subtitled The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy. It was a fun but short little platformer that included most of the characters from the show and even a cameo from George Jetson. When I first went to play this, I assumed it was going to be merely a port with the subtitle dropped, but although the controls are similar, it is a different game.
While the aforementioned NES game is a grander adventure built around a central plot, The Flintstones for Genesis/Mega Drive has Fred merely helping the other characters in the game. All but the sixth and final level begin with a character asking Fred for help with something they have lost or need. It is then Fred’s task to proceed through the level and bring back what they asked for. A plot that unifies all this only comes in rather clumsily at the end and seemed completely unnecessary. It is thankfully easier to ignore all this, as the game is better enjoyed as yet another licensed platformer.
As licensed games go, the Flintstones isn’t bad at all. The controls are generally responsive and easy to learn. Fred can jump and attack enemies with his club. There is some good platforming, right from the first level with the difficulty increasing consistently in each stage. There is a one level where Fred is able to use his car but the rest of the stages are just him and his club jumping and fighting off wildlife. There are also bonus stages found in certain parts that give Fred more chances to get extra items. The power-ups are the usual health items, invincibility and the most interesting being a short ride on projectile shooting dinosaur.
The Flintstones has three difficulty settings with the easy mode ending at stage four. The game can be difficult at times and the later levels will certainly take a few tries to learn all the traps and surprises. While the general platforming is quite good, Fred’s ability to grab and pull himself up on to platforms requires too much precision. I often had to jump three or four times before he would grab a ledge, and there are a couple of times in the game where it is critical that you get it right on the first jump. These moments were frustrating but doable. There are also times when the ground will fall out with only faint outlines indicating this. The first few level bosses are rather easy, but they quickly get harder. They do all follow an obvious pattern, and it is simply a matter of memorizing them.
Probably the biggest problem with the game is how short it is. It certainly isn’t the shortest game in the Genesis/Mega Drive library, but with only six levels it can be easily beaten in less than an hour. I think my first run on easy was barely thirty minutes. The difficulty settings will extend the game slightly, but once you’ve gone through on normal, there isn’t really anything else to see. I also can’t help but compare it to the aforementioned NES game. The one had not only had more levels, but an over world and a basketball mini-game. This had the same developer, on a more powerful system, yet has less content.
The graphics are relatively simplistic but the characters are animated well. The levels are what you expect with the town, jungles, caves, desert and even an underwater stage. They are visual distinct but all have bland backgrounds and (here is that word again) simplistic artwork. The music is best turned off and this is disappointing, since I again have to mention the NES game which had a number of catchy tunes.
The Flintstones is a brief experience but within this short time, there is some decent platforming. It isn’t at all terrible like so many licensed games are, but there is also nothing unique or even particularly good about it either. There isn’t even all that much to appeal to fans of the series, as the story is all but non-existent. I can only really recommend this to platforming enthusiasts who have yet to give this a go. It isn’t really hard but it is challenging enough to keep your attention for an afternoon and if you’re a collector, it will look nice on your shelf afterwards.
SCORE: 5 out of 10