Guilty Party – Retro Redress
Crime – not completing the SEGA Ultimate Genesis Collection challenge of obtaining 80,000 points on Flicky.
Redress – get 80,000 points and complete the challenge.
One of the benefits of modern gaming is the selection of excellent retro compilations. Over the last ten years or so, there have been a lot of fantastic collections. SNK Collection (Wii U and PS2), Capcom Remixed and Reloaded (PSP and PS2), Taito Treasures (PSP and PS2) and Rare Replay (Xbox One) come to mind. My favourite though is Sega (Sonic’s in the US) Ultimate Genesis Collection on Xbox 360 and PS3. It was lovingly curated by Sega, who not only included 49 Mega Drive games (two versions of Altered Beast…so you know the compilation is quality) but lots of artwork, interviews, screen size modifications and a pretty menu system.
Nine of the games on Sega Ultimate Genesis Collection were unlockables. To unlock the locked games, you had to complete a challenge on another game. For example, you could unlock Phantasy Star on the Master System by beating the first boss on Sonic 2 with two players. Being the RPG ignoramus I am, that didn’t interest me. No, I wanted Fantasy Zone. It’s one of my favourite Master System games and the idea of playing it on a big screen in my living room fascinated me. I made unlocking Fantasy Zone a priority and set about doing it. ‘”All I have to do”, I said to myself, “is get 80,000 points on Flicky”. How hard could getting 80,000 points be? I told myself that, a quick go of Flicky later, and I’d soon be off to the ’42 inch version of the Fantasy Zone.
I never got to the 42′ inch version of Fantasy Zone. I could not beat that challenge on Flicky despite my efforts…and, as I always do, I gave up. Sega Ultimate Mega Drive Collection got traded in and I forgot about Flicky…until now.
It’s time to face Flicky again and beat the challenge. Sure, I won’t get Fantasy Zone on a big telly…but I’ll get a measure of revenge, the satisfaction of going back and beating something that beat me. If you can’t take satisfaction from beating a challenge on a twenty six year old Mega Drive game, what can you take satisfaction from?
Before I go on, I should probably explain what Flicky is. Well, Flicky is a 1991 port of Sega’s 1984 arcade game where you as Flicky, a little blue bird, have to rescue baby birds (Chirps) from stages full of cats and lizards. It does seem strange that Sega would port a 1984 game to the Mega Drive in the same year as Sonic The Hedgehog – Flicky plays and looks like a Master System game and was ported to several systems in the 80’s including the SG-1000, the precursor to the Master System. The game Flicky reminds me most of is Teddy Boy, a simple Master System shooter – they both share some design features and the same ‘wraparound’ level design.
So…the challenge then….I need to get all the Chirps to the exit, without bumping into a cat or lizard, to move on to the next round, rinse and repeat. Flicky has 48 rounds, then the game starts to repeat itself. I doubt I will need to play all 48 rounds to get the 80,000 points, but I have a feeling it will take quite a few rounds. I’m fairly out of practice on Flicky and it’s like most arcade games – the more practice you get the better you get at it.
My first go ends on Rd. 2. I’d forgotten about Flicky’s controls – they are logical but take getting some use to. The D-Pad makes Flicky move and B makes Flicky fly into the air/jump. However the feel of the controls is really odd…Flicky is very slippy and his jump/fly path is a arching leap that can cause you to crash into cats very easily. To be fair, Flicky handles like I would expect a small bird rounding up baby chicks and dodging cats to handle, but that doesn’t make it any easier! I think the other reason that I’m struggling with the game is because I’m having flashbacks to the Christmas I got a Master System, with Teddy Boy as one of the games. The twee, high pitched tune, the enemies spawning out of boxes, the platforms, the level looping around continuously …it’s like being eight years old again and wondering if I can tell my mother that Teddy Boy isn’t very good and I want to play Sonic….
I finally get off the first two rounds and encounter the bonus stage, where Flicky gets points for catching Chirps in a big net. Why are the Chirps being launched into the air? To be honest, I wonder why Flicky is involved in these shenanigans full stop…most people who play Flicky assume that Flicky is the Chirps’ parent, which means Flicky is either 1) a terrible parent, who loses the same eight chicks constantly or b) has millions of kids. Flicky is actually a friend of the chick’s mother Lizzie who is just rescuing the Chirps…which implies….shall I just get back to playing the game, as opposed to casting shade at Flicky?
Now that’s how you do it! The trick to getting the big score on Flicky is to a) get as many Chirps to the exit at once and b) do it as quickly as possible. I’ve scored 22,560 in 14 seconds on Rd.1, if I can do that a few more times, then I’ve beat the challenge. I feel like I haven’t offered any thoughts on Flicky as a game…in terms of graphics and audio, Flicky is a tarted up 8 Bit game, that has no business being ported to a 16 Bit console in the early 90’s. Flicky is fun to play though and Flicky himself is a cool little character who I’m enjoying playing as…Flicky has featured in a few other Sega games, most notably in Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island and Sega seem to quite like him as a character. I guess it’s because his game is fairly easy to port/re-release…
Rd.5 sees the end of my heroic challenge, at 35,880 points. I need to regroup and refocus. My strategy on Rd.1 was spot on – namely collect all the Chirps as quickly as possible. I’ve learned that I can throw the stools and telephones that populate each level at the cats to earn points, but the cats are faster than Flicky so I think avoiding them is the best strategy. I’ve lost my concentration though – one of my (many) gaming weaknesses is that, if I do really well at at game, but still fail, then I struggle to get back into the game…probably because I’m still sulking from doing really well and falling short. To be fair, I’m getting into Flicky and have been happily playing it all evening. I can see why people like Flicky, it’s pretty addictive and who doesn’t want to rescue cute little yellow birds?
Rd.6 sees my Teddy Boy flashbacks rise to a dangerous level…the platform layouts are really similar. The platforms are Flicky’s main enemy to be honest – he tends to crash into them when trying to jump up or bounce off them. Rd.6 sees Flicky bounce off the walls like a rubber ball, a problem when Flicky’s sprite floats as it does. Again though, I imagine a small bird would bounce off a wall like that….not that I ever think about things like that. Horrific mental images or not, Rd.6 and it’s rubber walls ends a good run for me on 57,510 pts.
By now though, I feel like I’m getting the hang of Flicky. You need to beat each level in under 20 seconds and the key to doing that seems to be going for the furthest away Chirps and working your way back to the exit. Basically, the age old advice of ‘Do the hard part first’. I smash Rd.4 and Rd.5 in rapid order, giving me a total of 74,630 points. Can I beat the challenge?
Of course I can! Through hard work, skill and the bouncy walls sending me flying over the cats straight to the exit, I’ve completed the challenge. I feel satisfied…but you know what? I’ve enjoyed Flicky. I’m going to play it until I’m out of lives, I feel like Flicky deserves the playthrough to finish naturally, not to be shut off because I’m done with it.
So I continue…I get a flawless on the next bonus round and bomb through Rd.8. However, Rd.9, with it’s bouncy walls of doom spells the end for my run, as I bounce into the cats almost straight away. I imagine Flicky gets fiendishly tough later on, but I think I’ve found my level. I finish on 116,860 points, higher than the game’s top score of 100,000 points. I’m actually please with that, not a bad start to my Sega holiday!
Verdict – A complete success. Not only did I beat the challenge and put to rest my failure from previously, but I also had a really fun time playing Flicky. It’s an addictive game that I can definitely see myself playing again.
However it’s time to move on to the next game….