Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!



#176 – The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy

Have a Yabba-Dabba-Do time!

Including the iconic theme song!

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 5/18/21 – 5/24/21
Difficulty: 5/10
My Difficulty: 5/10
My Video: The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy Longplay

When you mention The Flintstones to someone who knows a lot about the NES, specifically the collecting side, they don’t think much about the cartoon, or Fred and Wilma, or Hanna Barbera, nothing like that.  Minds go straight to The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak.  If you don’t know, it’s the hardest to find licensed NES game aside from Stadium Events.  The collector will either be smug about owning a copy (I try not to be this way!) or go on some long monologue about how collecting old games shouldn’t be so expensive and all that.  But Surprise at Dinosaur Peak is not what we’re here to talk about today, for there was an earlier Flintstones NES game that is much more affordable, and also a pretty decent game in its own right.

The Flintstones is an animated sitcom that premiered on ABC in September 1960.  The cartoon ran through April 1966, spanning 6 seasons and 166 episodes.  It was the longest running and most successful animated series until it was dethroned by The Simpsons all the way back in 1997, which is still going strong today.  Despite its apparent success, The Flintstones was not well received by critics at the time, only catching on as a classic through repeated reruns over several decades.  The series and characters have been featured in numerous spin-offs, films, TV specials, and all kinds of other media, on a consistent basis since release.

The Flintstones have appeared in several video games, even pre-dating the NES entries.  The first Flintstones game was called Yabba Dabba Doo! and it was a European only release on a few different computers in 1986.  There were a couple more Flintstones games that appeared on personal computers before they started to come to consoles.  The first console Flintstones game is the one we are covering today.  The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy was developed and published by Taito, releasing first on the NES in North America in December 1991.  It was subsequently released in Europe, Japan, and Australia in 1992.  Mattel was the publisher for the Australian release.  Sol Corporation is also credited as a developer on this game, but not much information is known about their development credits so we cannot say for sure.

There sure are some interesting gadgets in these times.

The plot of the game is simple and almost completely evident from the game’s title.  The Flintstone family was hanging out with their neighbors, the Rubbles, and their alien friend Gazoo.  Suddenly, a time machine appeared that was piloted by Dr. Butler.  He is from the 30th century and preparing a zoo full of prehistoric creatures, and so he kidnaps the families’ pets Dino and Hoppy.  Not only that, but on the way out he destroys Gazoo’s time machine so they cannot follow him, scattering the parts all over.  It is up to Fred Flintstone to collect the pieces over several platforming stages in order to rebuild the time machine and travel to the future to rescue Dino and Hoppy.

As soon as you finish the opening cutscene, you’re jumping right into the platforming.  Move Fred around with the D-pad.  Press the A button to jump.  Fred can grab onto ledges and pull himself up to get to higher ground.  Press and hold the A button while at the edge of a ledge to grab on.  If you release A, Fred lets go quickly, but if you press and hold Up while continuing to hold A, Fred slowly pulls himself up the ledge.  The B button swings Fred’s club.  This is a short range attack to bop enemies.  Also, you can hold the B button down to charge up a swing, then let go to bash even harder.  There are secondary weapons you can find along the way, and you use them by holding Up and pressing B.  The Select button cycles through the secondary weapons, while Start both pauses the game and summons Gazoo to help out with some other special abilities.

The display at the bottom of the screen tells you all you need to know.  Fred’s lives and current health are on the left side of the display.  On the right side you have the power meter, which grows while Fred is charging a club attack.  Below that on the bottom right are the number of coins.  These are spent as Fred uses his special weapons, so you’ll want to have enough of these for tougher encounters.  In the middle of the display is a square that shows which secondary weapon Fred has selected.

Fred also collects various weapons and items throughout the stages.  Defeating enemies cause coins to drop so you can stock up on cash.  The other items are found in barrels or crates.  The heart item restores all of Fred’s health points.  The cactus cooler, which looks like a log with spikes out the top, extends Fred’s maximum health by one heart.  The bronto burger extends the maximum length of the power meter for stronger hits on the bad guys.  The 1up item in this game has Fred’s head on it.  In the barrels you also uncover the secondary weapons.  The stone axe costs 3 coins per use, and it travels in an arc much like the axe from Castlevania.  The slingshot is a simple projectile attack that also costs 3 coins.  You need 10 coins to wield the boomasaurus egg.  It is akin to a time bomb that damages enemies in a wide range.

Sweet hang-time in prehistoric basketball!

Another fun thing you can do is play the basketball mini-game.  After clearing the first stage you are brought to the world map. Some of the areas on the map are the basketball stages. Your opponent, Hard-Head Harry, has some useful tools for you as long as you can best him in a match first.  Each match lasts only one minute, and you earn two points for every basket made.  When Fred has the ball, you can jump with A, then press B at the top of the jump to throw the ball.  The baskets are the mouths of giant birds that can open and close at will, a fun visual gag the likes of which you’d see in an episode of the show.  On defense, you can press B to do a body bash and try to knock the ball away from Harry.  You have to outscore Harry outright to win, no ties allowed.

Defeating Harry on the court unlocks one of three special powers that you can utilize in the platforming stages.  Press Start to summon Gazoo, then select the power.  The Jump power summons a giant Hoppasaurus that can take one mighty leap before leaving the scene.  The Fly power gives Fred bird wings allowing him to fly until landing.  The Swim power dons a snorkel and flippers to swim more effectively in water.  These abilities cost coins to use but can be very helpful in some situations.

This was my first time playing through The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy.  This game is a bit uncommon, but not super hard to find.  I’ve only had one copy that I picked up in a lot.  For a couple of months back in 2008 or 2009, I started buying a few specific NES games and bidding on bulk lots on eBay.  After a few auction wins, I already started to get overwhelmed with the extra games and duplicates, so I stopped doing that.  I do remember that I got this game and Metal Storm in the same lot, and those games were cheap back then, so I made out very well in the long term.  Anyway, I’m not even sure if I tried the game back then or not, I just shuffled it into my collection.

Getting dinner together the old fashioned way.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the dates, I’ll point out that I have criminally fallen behind on posting these reviews.  Here almost two and a half years late I’m finally getting around to it!  Writing is going to be a bit of a struggle to try and recap something from so long ago, but where I can I’ll attempt a replay to catch back up.  Maybe it will help the thoughts crystallize somewhat, or it will make the game feel brand new again.  Who knows?

Back in 2021, I was able to beat this without too much trouble.  I had to continue once or twice, but it has unlimited continues so no issue there.  The final stage and final boss are the trickiest parts, but a few attempts was all it took.  In my recent replay, I felt like I had a harder time beating this than I did before.  I needed several continues in the mid and late game, especially that final stage.  Beating the final boss went better than I thought, but also felt a bit like I got lucky with dealing a bunch of damage while not caring about Fred’s own health, and surviving just long enough to finish.  The little bit I remembered from playing this back in 2021 helped a lot in that respect. Anyway, I do not think a fourth playthrough is in order, that’s enough Flintstones, it’s time to move on!

The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy is your typical average NES platformer.  Graphically, the game is quite appealing.  The characters are all drawn well and are recognizable even as tiny sprites.  The environments are varied, with different levels themes and gameplay tweaks sprinkled throughout.  The transformations, while seldom used, add an extra element to help get through certain sections.  The music overall is pretty good as well, with the familiar Flintstones theme done well, along with others.  There was nothing here that was particularly catchy or an earworm, but solid anyway.  The gameplay is a tad bit weaker.  The controls and movement feel just a bit sluggish, while some enemies are much more mobile and difficult to handle.  Fred’s club range is shorter than you would expect, and when charging up the club there’s really no clue how much damage you’re actually dealing.  On the other hand, grabbing a ledge to climb feels more generous and is used often in the level design to good effect.  The Flintstones is somewhat of a mixed bag but is generally a good game.  I’m excited to see what the expensive sequel has in store.

#176 – The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy


#97 – Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

If you ever wanted to throw a friend, here’s a great way to do it!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chip and Dale!

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 8/12/18
Difficulty: 4/10
My Difficulty: 3/10
My Video: Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers Longplay

We are almost at 100 NES games into this project, yet somehow this will be the fourth Disney Afternoon NES game on the list already. Sure, I handpicked DuckTales to round out my first ten games, but then TaleSpin followed quickly after. DuckTales 2 was beaten just a few months ago. I did not watch much of those cartoons in the Disney Afternoon lineup, but I sure played a ton of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers over the years. Time to play it again and document it all!

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers was an animated series from Walt Disney Television Animation. It was created by Tad Stones and Alan Zaslove. The series technically started with a preview episode that aired in August 1988. The full series began on the Disney Channel in March 1989 with a 13-episode run in its first season, which included that preview episode. Season 2 ran 47 episodes from September 1989 through May 1990. The first five episodes of the season were initially created as a standalone movie named Rescue Rangers: To the Rescue. The third and final season was an abbreviated five episode run from September 1990 through November 1990. Reruns were aired as part of the Disney Afternoon from 1990 through 1993.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is one of the few releases to launch near simultaneously in both Japan and the US. Both the Famicom version, named Chip to Dale no Daisakusen, and the NES version were released June 1990. The PAL version would wait until December 1991. There was also a port to the Playchoice-10 arcade machine. Capcom both developed and published this game. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers was included as part of the Disney Afternoon Collection compilation released in 2017.

Small cutscenes progress the story.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a side-scrolling platformer. The Rescue Rangers work together to find their neighbor Mandy’s missing kitten. Chip and Dale go hot on the trail and fend off a bunch of mysterious robotic enemies. It turns out to be a distraction as their enemy Fat Cat captures Gadget, one of the Rescue Rangers. Now the remaining Rescue Rangers have to work their way through several levels to find and defeat Fat Cat. Simply reach the ending of this story to beat this game.

At the start of the game you decide if you want to play single player or two-player mode. In single player you then get to pick if you want to control either Chip or Dale. Both play the same so just pick the one you like more. In two-player mode, player 1 is Chip and player 2 is Dale. Two-player mode is simultaneous play which I have found is a big draw to this game.

The controls are normal platformer controls. You move around with the D-pad and press A to jump. You can control your fall with the D-pad for good old precision movement. Hold Down to duck low, and if you press A then you will jump down through ledges. The B button is used to pick up and throw objects. Normally you will throw crates but there are other things you can grab. Push into the crate from the side and press B to pick it up. You can move around like normal when holding a crate. Press B to throw the crate sideways the length of the screen. You can hold Up and press B to throw a crate straight above your head, like you have super strength. If you duck while holding a crate you will hide inside of it. You’ll see your character’s eyes peeking out. While hiding like this, enemies can walk right into the crate and take damage, acting like a shield of sorts. If you throw the crate while hiding you will throw it low across the ground. In the two-player mode, you can throw crates at each other, stunning your partner briefly. You can also pick the other player up, carry him through the level, and throw him around. Press Start to pause the game, and press Select to also pause the game and bring up a status screen.

Always carry a crate along.

A little information is on-screen during play, and the rest of it is shown on the status screen. The top of the screen shows your health meter in the corner. You get three hearts of health and damage from an enemy causes you to lose a heart. In this game there is no way to extend the maximum health meter. There is also a C or a D displayed above the health depending on if you are playing as Chip or Dale. The status screen from pressing Select shows your character portrait along with the number of lives, flowers, and stars you have collected.

There are powerups and collectibles you can find. Flowers are the most common item you will see all the time out in the open. Meanwhile, stars are usually found hidden behind a crate. Once you collect either 100 flowers or 20 stars, a 1up star will float into play from the side of the screen. You can occasionally find 1up stars hidden in crates. You can tell the difference as 1up stars flash colors and normal stars do not. Health-restoring acorns can also be found in crates. Normal acorns restore one heart and blinking acorns restore all health. While not a powerup, I want to also mention the metal crates. You can’t throw these, but you can pick them up, drop them, and stack them to build makeshift stairs.

Large treasure boxes may hold special items. You can find full-health acorns inside them sometimes. You can find a powerup with the letter P on it that helps you carry heavy items. There are some things like large apples that you can pick up but they slow your movement and you can’t jump as high. When carrying an apple you can see Chip or Dale visibly sweat because it’s so heavy. With the P powerup you can carry big items the same as normal ones. Boxes may contain a hunk of cheese that lures fellow Rescue Ranger Monterey Jack. He will go after the cheese while knocking a hole in the wall that opens up the next screen. The best powerup is Zipper, another Rescue Ranger. He provides temporary invincibility and knocks out all your enemies for you while it lasts.

Choose your own adventure!

You jump right into the action after the initial story sequence in a new game. The end of this level is when Gadget gets captured. After a message from one of the characters, you get to choose the next level you want to play from the map. Each area is identified by a letter of the alphabet, and you can fly your plane to the one to want. Of course, you have to beat a level before you can pass it on the map to the next one.

At the end of each level before the map screen, you get to play a bonus game. This is a single-screen platforming segment with a few crates that have items inside. You want to find stars and 1up stars here if you can, but the bonus game is over so quickly that you have to be intentional on where you want to look. In two-player mode this is especially devious as you can stun the other player with thrown crates, losing precious bonus time in the process.

The levels themselves are mostly straightforward platforming. There are locations where everything is large in contrast to your small size. You can run around library books or jump over steaming pots in the kitchen. Some stages have interactive elements. For instance, you can turn off streams of water in the way by jumping on top of and turning the tap. You can also hit switches with crates to turn things on and off. The path of the level may take you in any direction, but you always stay on track and the screen doesn’t scroll to let you backtrack.

Turn the tap to shut off the upper valve also.

Most stages end in a boss battle. Instead of the bosses dropping throwable items, you get a single red ball used to attack. This ball acts like the crates but it is permanent. Throw it into each boss five times to defeat it. The ball always rebounds off the wall and flies backwards before dropping to the ground after its next collision with one of the sides. This is so you can’t lose the ball behind some of the larger bosses in the game.

You start the game with three lives. You can play when the status screen shows zero lives remaining, so you always have one more life than it appears. The same thing happens with continues. You can continue up to three times from the start of the stage where you died. Before your last continue, the Game Over screen will display “Continue 0.” I think it’s nice to have what feels like an extra continue just in case you need it!

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers was a game I’ve owned since I was a kid and I have played through the game countless times. We did not own this new, but it sold well enough that there were a lot of second-hand copies floating around. I don’t recall how I got my first copy but I have had a few other copies I bought within game lots on eBay. As a popular, yet common game, it always sells for around $10-$15.

This huge boss is probably some kid’s toy robot.

I have played a lot of this game, but I hadn’t played it recently. I liked the idea of trying to beat the game without dying, but this time I just wanted to beat the game well enough to move on to the next one on my list. I died four or five times in my run and I didn’t get too far in before I died the first time. It’s not a great outcome, but I’m satisfied with it. I made sure to play all the stages. Poor Area E gets ignored by just about everyone since there’s really no reason to play it due to its location on the map. I wanted to give it part of the spotlight during my playthrough because it’s a good level like the others.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a great NES game suitable for any collection. It has colorful and detailed graphics, peppy music, responsive controls, and fun levels. The enemies and traps are interesting with some creative behavior and interactivity, and the boss battles are well made. The levels are in some unusual but clever settings and they really suit the game well. My only gripes are that the game feels a bit too short and the game difficulty is mostly easy. A few of the levels can be skipped over entirely making for an even quicker game if that’s what you want. These are minor complaints. This is an excellent game made even better by supporting two players. Games like this tend to make me crave more of it, but lucky for me there’s an NES sequel coming up someday. I haven’t yet played Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2, nor do I know much about it at all, so I am very much looking forward to playing it!

#97 – Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers