The Flintstones Bedrock Bowling bombs
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"The Flintstones Bedrock Bowling" by Southpeak for PSX starts out nicely with an animated sequence. Fred, after a hard day at the quarry, is ready to meet Barney for some bowling practice to hone his skills for the big tournament. His boss, Mr. Slate tells Fred that he has to work overtime. Oh no! What to do?! What about the big tournament?! Darn that old Mr. Slate! Have no fear, Gazoo is here! You remember Gazoo, the little green alien with amazing powers? Gazoo, after hearing Fred's plight, magically transforms the entire town of Bedrock into bowling lanes. Now Fred can practice bowling and get his work done simultaneously.
Bedrock Bowling is not a traditional bowling game. It's probably closer to a racing game than a bowling one. The bowling lanes are twisting, turning sloped courses where you control either Fred, Barney, Pebbles, Bamm Bamm or Dino in a bowling ball half-shell. The player controls the "Ball," more like a sled in its movement, through the track trying to collect bowling pins (for bowling practice), DoDo birds (for extended play and bonus lanes) and gems (for work). Too bad this title won't be collecting too many GiN Gems.
Of course, there are obstacles. Water, lava, tar, animals and powder kegs can hamper your movement or knock you out of the game. There are different lanes such as the Quarry, the Expressway, the Tar Pit and bonus lanes like Barney's Yard, the Lodge and Gazoo's Space Lanes.
We've got all the basics down. Now here is where the conflict comes in. I have two different critiques of Bedrock Bowling, one from a 6 year old perspective and another one from me.
Let's start with opinion number one, the adult viewpoint. "Less experienced players and gaming experts alike will enjoy playing Bedrock Bowling," says the game's booklet. Rubbish, I don't consider myself a gaming expert but, in 45 minutes to an hour I had solved the game at every difficulty level and got all the bonus lanes!
And to top it off, I think that I hate Gazoo now more than I did as a youngster. There is no challenge, it is almost impossible to die in this game (stick with me, I'll come back to this). Even on the "hard" difficulty setting, the game doesn't have enough obstacles to make it remotely difficult. My cat could play the game and win. There are three controls to this - left, right, and turbo. But turbo is the equivalent of going from super slow to a brisk snails' pace.
Bedrock Bowling's opening animated sequence is nice, but I still have problems with it. Fred and Gazoo's voices are fine, but all the other characters are awful. Bamm Bamm sounds like he hit puberty. So did Dino. And Barney must be drunk. Is there no one on the planet that can do a good imitation of Barney? There has to be someone, somewhere really wasting his or her incredible Barney mimicking talent. Don't we have the technology yet to clone Mel Blanc? Sorry, was I ranting?
Anyhow, after the opening, the rest of the graphics are mediocre at best. Now, who are they marketing this game for? Six year olds or 29 year olds? Six year olds don't watch the Flintstones, they watch Pokemon. The game is so obviously geared toward children, even though Fred and Barney are a 25 or 35 something market. (I'll come back to this as well) Ok, I've vented enough.
Now, opinion two, the kid. I gave Bedrock Bowling to a friend of mine, who has a six year old son. His son loved it. Why you ask, after all of my griping? Have you ever had a six year old play your games? Every ten seconds they die and every ten seconds you have to get up and restart the game. But with Bedrock Bowling you never crash and end the game. A small child can go through the majority of the game without dying. (I told you I would get back to this), which saves alot of headaches.
Does the kid recognize the Flintsones? No, but it has a dinosaur on the cover and in six year old logic, the game can't be all that bad. But my friend said that his son will soon be bored with this game.
Plus, my friend and I both agreed that Bedrock Bowling at $39.95 retail is inconceivable. I predict that this game will be in the bargain bin at your local Wal-Mart before Christmas. Alright, so what if the kid liked it when his dad won't pay 40 bucks for a game that will be collecting dust in six months. And I hated it. I give it 1 1/2 GiN GEMS out of 5.
When I first saw Bedrock Bowling, I thought it would be a fun, traditional bowling game with Fred and his pals, but instead it was the exact opposite. And my cat is currently holding the house's high score.
[Editor's Note: One of Jeff's predictions seems to be coming true as the game's price just dropped to $20 at retail.]