Retro Respawn – The Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak

I have a dirty secret to admit, I don’t actually own this game. Yes, I’m afraid I went and emulated this one as opposed to actually buying it myself. Why would I do such a thing I hear you ask? The answer is because this is one of the rarest games on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Indeed, a quick trip to eBay sees the game coming in at an astounding 414.39 British Pounds! That’s almost 83 Bison Dollars for crepes sake! And that’s just for the cartridge on its own. If you seek out a copy in its full original packaging, it will cost you £919.44!

Now, needless to say, I love you guys but I don’t love you THAT much. Therefore, I got my hands grubby and emulated this monstrosity rather than putting a major hole in my wallet. I’m pretty certain there isn’t a single game in existence that is worth nearly £415 of hard earned money. Donkey Kong Country 2 is one hell of a thrill ride, but I’d balk at paying more than £40 for it, and that’s for one of the greatest games of all time. The Flintstones is your typical bog standard platformer with a few neat little quirks. It’s probably worth £5 and little more, if that. It lives as an example that just because something is a rarity doesn’t necessarily mean it is actually worth anything when it comes to its primary function.

Wilma, This game’s a hunk of Dino Crap!!!

The game itself was released on the NES in 1994. By this point, the fourth generation console war between the Super Nintendo and the SEGA Mega Drive was still raging on with the fifth generation consoles looming in the near future. The fact that Taito felt it was worth even bother releasing a game on the system at all is completely baffling. Clearly they didn’t anticipate much demand for the title; otherwise one would assume there would be more cartridges knocking around. Rumours abound that the game was made as an exclusive for Blockbuster Video, which might explain its rarity, but this hasn’t been corroborated with any hard evidence.

My first console was a Super Nintendo, which I got for Christmas 1993, and I really don’t remember the NES being at all relevant around that time frame. It’s not a case of something like the PS2, which still did very well for itself for a good chunk of the seventh generation. I could be wrong about that, and I was very young so it could just be a case of me not having clear enough recollection, but I certainly don’t remember the NES being anywhere near that popular that late into the fourth generation.

This just makes the release of the game all the more baffling, especially as the game was released in both North America and Europe. I know both the NES and Master Systems were very popular in South America long after they fell from relevance in other parts of the world but I’m not sure this game was even released there. It certainly didn’t see a Japanese release so I’d be surprised to hear that it was a massive hit in Uruguay or Venezuela. There was a Flintstones live action movie that was released in 1994, and that game did see a tie-in Super Nintendo release, but this game uses the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon versions of the characters, so it doesn’t even work as a way to cash in on the film.

The game itself can be incredibly frustrating and the story is like a bad acid trip. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm have gone missing and Fred and Barney have to find them. Okay so far, but then things take a massive turn for the mental when a volcano goes off and our heroes are blocked from their offspring by a literal river of lava. Thusly, both Fred and Barney have to traipse to the other side of the map so that some pterodactyls will fly them over the lava so they can fight an angry fire dinosaur and rescue the cream of their loins before they are cooked by liquid magma. To get to the pterodactyls they have to traverse a building site overran with monkeys, a haunted house and a prehistoric sewer system. It’s convoluted and is the loosest possible excuse to include all the standard platform level types. Water level? Check. Ghost level? Check. Underground level with tacked on mine cart ride? Check, check, check!

This game invokes every tired platforming cliché that you could think of and does them all in a dull a dreary manner. The only unique thing about it is that you can switch between the two main characters at any time by pressing select. Fred and Barney have different abilities, which adds a layer of strategy to how you play. For instance, Fred can grab onto ledges but Barney can’t, so you will need to scope an area out before taking a jump, as if you’re Barney you could end up tumbling to your doom. However, the level design is such that the only way you’ll be able to succeed in most cases is by trial and error. One stage involves having to climb up a set of platforms while lava chases you. There is only one route that will successfully lead you to safety, but there’s no way of knowing whether you’ve gone the right way until it is too late. Turn right instead of left and its instant death, meaning you have to go back to the last checkpoint. This is incredibly cheap and turns most levels into nothing more than a game of lucky dip than a test of actual skill.

The graphics are shoddy, even for the NES and the gameplay is slow and stilted. The soundtrack is utter dirge and boss fights can take an absolute age unless you have the bowling ball or hammer item. The bosses aren’t even particularly difficult, they just take forever to kill and the battles themselves are woefully unsatisfying. It perturbs me greatly that there are probably people out there who have paid a small fortune for this thoroughly underwhelming and depressing video game.

If you have a NES and are thinking of buying this, please do not. Even if someone offers you a discount, Yabba-Dabba-Dont spend a penny on this miserable waste of time. Save your money and buy yourself something else. Heck, head to Hamburg and really make use of that £400, if you know what I mean. I mean buying a shedload of Curry Wurst of course. What did you think I meant? Oh get your mind out of the gutter you vicious hoodlum!

As always, I’ll post some game footage below

Thanks for reading

Peace Out

YouTube footage of the game courtesy of nenriki86 can be found by clicking HERE

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