Backlog Burndown #20 – Flicky Bird

Flicky, Backlog Burndown, SEGA Genesis, Marooner's Rock

Greetings Backloggers! Nearly thirty years before Flappy Bird tapped its way onto phones and tablets around the world, a different semi-flightless bird bounded her way through the world’s arcades. Starring a blue bird named Flicky trying to rescue her chicks from the predations of cats and lizards, the eponymous game would be ported to a number of systems including the SEGA Genesis.

The 1991 SEGA Genesis port that I played (as featured in the SEGA Genesis Classics Pack on Steam, and various other Genesis compilations for other platforms) is a mostly faithful adaptation of the 1984 arcade original. An earlier SG-1000 (SEGA’s first console) port reduced the level count, simplified the backgrounds, replaced the weapons and music, and screwed up the collision detection. On the Genesis home version, changes are limited to different music, the addition of an end credits screen after completing all forty-eight levels, and the “edgy” of a high score bonus screen. In the original arcade game, extremely high scores on certain levels would reward the player with a woman waving at them from a window. In the Genesis port, the reward was a topless woman shaking her bikini-bottom clad rear. Remember, this was the days of “Genesis does what Nintendon’t!”

Flicky, Backlog Burndown, SEGA Genesis, Marooner's Rock

Instructions screen

Gameplay is uncomplicated, however, uncomplicated is not the same as easy. A single button controls both jump and throw actions, necessitating some quick thinking and strategy to decide how to handle each of the single-screen levels. I found this to be a game that favors the D-Pad over an analog stick for movement. Precise control is difficult to achieve when Flicky floats, bounces off walls, and skids to a halt. Every little bit helps.

The forty-eight levels are split with a bonus level coming after four regular levels. This gives the player a chance to breathe, and maybe collect enough points for one of the few extra lives. There’s no death in the bonus levels. The goal is to catch all twenty chicks, as they are launched into the air in various patterns.

Flicky, Backlog Burndown, SEGA Genesis, Marooner's Rock

Flicky starting level

After all the levels are complete a short credit sequence rolls. This was added for the Genesis port. After that, the game loops back to Level One and players can continue their quest for insanely high scores. I didn’t make it past Level One on the second go around. But then, I never said my arcade skills were all that great.

Flicky, Backlog Burndown, SEGA Genesis, Marooner's Rock

Birds. In. Space!

Backlog Verdict: Skip, unless you’re a fan of semi-obscure old arcade and Genesis titles. Aside from the cute and unique art style, there’s nothing especially memorable about this game. The scrolling single screen is an interesting solution to the memory limits ofthe time, but there’s just not a lot here. The floaty controls quickly become an exercise in frustration, and even with copious abuse of the save/load system in the modern port, I still burned almost three hours to finish a game where every level was completed in under a minute. When I finally finished each level, that is.

Previous Backlog Count: 1,195

New Backlog Count: 1,194 – Goodbye, Flicky.

Next Week: Knocking out an Xbox Games with Gold freebie.

Backlog Burndown is a semi-regular feature on Marooner’s Rock. Read previous columns in the archives, and suggest future games to play in the comments!

Aaron is proof that while you can take a developer out of the game industry, it's much harder to take the game industry out of a developer. When not at his day job, Aaron enjoys teaching Axis & Allies to his kids, writing sci-fi stories, playing classic space sims on Twitch, and riding around the American Midwest on his Harley.

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