YABBA DABBA . .. Ooh dear! What are the Flintstones doing in a computer game? And one which makes them look like a right load of brontasaurae?
Yep, Fred, Wilma, Dino and Co have made their debut into the world of high-tech programming and low-tech graphics. Join the happy gang and help Fred build Bedrock, the boulder-strewn habitat of the stone age knuckleheads.
The story line is simple and predictable. Clear the site of pebbles and build Fred's house before the Rubbles and other neighbours can build theirs. Then find Wilma and persuade her to set up home with you.
According to the cassette blurb, Wilma tends to hang around the Drive-in or Burger Bar. She seems to appear at random and is likely to crop up in almost any of the 35 screens. She's a bit like a can of Heineken - give her a kiss and you'll regain your strength. A pulsating heart then appears - the harder it pumps the more likely she is to run home with you.
Anyway, there's no point worrying about Wilma in the early stages because your first priority is the house. Clearing the site of small pebbles is a frustrating and thankless task. Pick up a pebble - two if you can manage it - walk into the next screen and chuck it into the pit. Repeat this seven or eight times until the area is clear.
A pterodactyl flies across regularly, dropping pebbles and boulders on Fred's head and the surrounding area. Just more mess to clear up.
Now collect the boulders and take them back to the homestead. If you place one in the right position a section of the house will appear. You'll have to travel far and wide to collect the rocks - that means over five levels in depth and seven screens in width. If you can find your car, you'll then travel faster. Dodging the various hazards, including the turtle, rolling rock, pterodactyl and the occasional dinosaur, will then be easier.
Eventually Fred reaches the roof building stage and has to hire a dinosaur with a scaled back to allow him to walk up to the roof - rather like a staircase. But before he can enter Dino-hire he must earn some cash down at the quarry - a dollar sign appears when he has earned enough. For a few seconds after collecting the cash Fred is immune to the life-sapping ankle-biting turtle, and the other prehistoric perils.
Before the house is complete Fred must meet up with Wilma as often as possible to get the heart - in the right hand corner of the screen - pumping like the clappers. Only when it looks as if it's about to explode will she return home with him.
Travelling through the screens is innovative, if confusing. To move up to another level, stand in one corner of the screen and push the joystick diagonally upwards. To move to another screen on the same level, stay away from the corner of the screen and stick to the centre.
One sure way of telling which level you're on is to look at the stone wall which runs through each screen. If it's very large, you've moved into the background and near the hills. If the wall is a thin line, you're in the foreground.
The scoring system is suitably neanderthal. There are two stone slabs with birds pecking at them. The top slab represents Fred's energy level which Wilma can increase with a kiss, the bottom slab shows how many times he's been bowled over by a nasty. When the bird eats the stone, Fred loses a life.
Surprisingly - given the relative success achieved by others in re-creating cartoon characters on the Spectrum - the least attractive feature of Yabba Dabba Doo is the graphics. Colour and scenery are flat and unadventurous - blue sky, green hills and yellow foreground. That's it.
For the most part any masking routines are non-existent - Fred, Wilma and the rest of the brainless gang run around, transparent figures which merge in an unholy mess of squiggly lines when they collide or pass one another. When a half-hearted attempt at masking is found - when, for instance, Fred passes in front of the wall - it's so clumsy you wish the programmers hadn't bothered.
The press blurb which accompanied the game brazenly informed us that the graphics on the Commodore 64 version 'have been faithfully translated to the Spectrum and are truly remarkable'. If that's so then Yabba must have set a new low for Commode graphics.
Actually, we have it on good authority that the C64 graphics bear very little resemblance to those on the Spectrum.
Still it is truly remarkable that after Knight Lore, Popeye and Three Weeks in Paradise Quicksilva still thinks it can get away with charging £7.99 for this.
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Bet you think these graphics don't look too bad. Just you wait until they move...