The Flintstones’ second NES outing sells for a mint on the secondhand market. Surprise!
RELEASE DATE: August 1994 (!)
Surprise! Surprise at Dinosaur Peak is the second rarest licensed NES game of all time, and if I’m not mistaken, the final NES game released in America. Back in August of ’94, when the NES was already dead, Taito had the odd sense to release a sequel to the well-recieved Dino and Hoppy. Instead of selling it directly to retailers, one could only rent the game from Blockbuster (remember those “rental-only” games, like Clay Fighter Championship Edition? The mid-Nineties were nuts!). As a result of this partnership, Surprise at Dinosaur Peak rarely sells for less than five hundred wing-wangs (dollars, for those of you not into the show “Futurama”). You shouldn’t pay the price of a brand new 3DS and a PS3 for such a rare NES game, but should you find yourself in the home of someone who did, please take this game for a spin. Taito commands you!
Surprise at Dinosaur Peak refines what made the first Flintstones game fun. In addition to more smash-and-bash action, courtesy of Fred Flintstone, you can also play as Barney Rubble. Barney controls similarly, but instead of wielding a club, he has a slingshot. He can also climb vines, while Fred can not. Barney having different abilities than Fred is only an excuse to put both of them in the game, but it’s nice to see Barney after his conspicuous absence from the first game. The controls are smoother, especially Fred’s climbing ability. In the last game, there was an awkward second between grabbing onto a ledge and climbing. Here, Fred is a smooth climbing operator. The levels are, again, fairly standard, although the game does seem a bit more difficult this time. The game begins with 3 lives, so the challenge doesn’t seem as bad until your lives have completely depleted. The basketball minigame has been replaced by a hockey minigame, and it is cheap, cheap, cheap. It’s not impossible to make goals, but it is near impossible to recover the puck if your opponent – some bald guy, who I believe is Flintstone’s boss on the show – hits you and takes it from you. Minigame aside, Surprise at Dinosaur’s Peak is one more solid platformer for the NES and a reminder that before Blast Processing and Super FX Chips, the NES was king.