Flimbo's Quest

NB: The facts contained herein refer solely to the C64 version of the game, since other versions may have differences, and I can't be sure.

A gem of a game, on the Commodore 64, which was included on the 4-game cartridge that came with some units prepackaged, including the one I got for Christmas when I was 5. (The cartridge also included Klax, International Soccer, and Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun.)

Plot

The game's protagonist, Flimbo, was getting along fine in Dewdropland, when the evil professor Fransz Dandruff, in seeking to live forever, created a machine which would enable him to extract the life force from anyone he chooses. Ironically for the game, he picks the Beauty Queen of Dewdropland, and Flimbo's girlfriend, Pearly. And so, our brave hero sets off on his adventure, over 7 levels, facing all manner of evil beasts sent from Fransz's dominion.

In each level, Flimbo must kill creatures containing scrolls, which themselves contain letters of a secret code required to exit the area. The codes increase in length through the game, from 3 to a max of 6 letters, allowing for a pleasant increase in difficulty as you proceed. The scrolls are given to the magician Dazz Bazian, who runs a shop on each level, wherein Flimbo can take temporary shelter from the enemies around him, and buy various helping items. In some areas, the game is more difficult due to the fact that multiple species of the same enemy abound, and only in one area of the level will the one holding the scroll exist at any one time (though in some cases you may have the task of killing multiples of the same enemy, in differing areas of the level, for multiple scrolls). In each case, the status bar on the screen will denote the species to be killed with a mugshot in the center; furthermore, the specific enemy to kill will flash rainbow colors on-screen.

Flimbo starts off with a mere 18 minutes, and 3 lives, to traverse the game. This can lead to some hair-raising time scrambles later on, when an enemy on the farside of the level to the exit is required to get a scroll. Some enemies will leave money behind when killed; outside world coins are worth £20 (moneybags in later levels are equivalent), whereas the banks in each level pose a trickier challenge. Each bank will randomly color one coin purple; this is upon collection, also worth £20, and this in turn makes another coin turn purple. Green coins are worth £10, posing the question of whether to go for greater flexibility in purchasing later on, incurring the wrath of the clock, or whether to play it safe and just grab what you can, leaving yourself at the mercy of your enemies. Of course money, as in any capitalist-driven economy, can be used to purchase summary goods at Dazz's shop.

To increase life count, Flimbo is awarded an extra life at 20,000 points, and again at every 20,000 points more. He can also obtain, again from dead enemies, hearts, which come in 5 colors: Red, pink, green, blue and purple. Shooting a red heart will turn it pink, then again to green, etc, but a purple heart shot will burst. It can be tricky to get these, as they fly off the screen gradually, but collect one of every color at Dazz's shop for an extra life. The heart scenario also makes life more difficult in later levels, as Flimbo can only carry one thing at a time; scroll or heart.

Items

Along his merry way, Flimbo can collect a variety of items to help in his quest to rescue his sweetie. The following can all be found around the landscape, or also bought in the shop that appears in each level, as outlined above, for nominal prices.

Super Weapon: £350

Flimbo starts the game with a Normal Weapon. A pitiful excuse of a machine, it offers a very limited shot range, and low firing power, such that the enemies even on the first level take at least 3 shots to kill. The Super Weapon attempts to alleviate these problems by offering full-screen firing (vital in later level chases), and 2x the power, such that some enemies will take now just one shot, and some in the hardest reaches may take no more than 6 or 7, as opposed to 14 beforehand. It should be noted though, that if Flimbo loses life, he will also lose this weapon, making replacements rather costly. It can however be found in some enemies of Level 4, which is a very useful topup indeed.

Hourglass: £200

Of course, time is of the essence in this game. Each hourglass bought (or found in Level 6) will add a precious 2 minutes to your time. In time scrambles, the clock in the status bar will flash and make an alarm sound in the final 30 seconds. If the timer runs out at ANY point in the game, irrespective of life count, Flimbo loses the game entirely.

Invulnerability: £250

Wouldn't it be nice to have a free shot at all the enemies without using your trigger finger? Well that's what this doozy gives you. Also coming from vanquished enemies in later levels, this purple potion will grant you 30 seconds game-time of invulnerability to death from any enemy. Flimbo remains vulnerable to holes in the ground. Flimbo will flash when he is about to lose this special privelege, so be careful how you use it, fellow spendthrifts, especially in later levels where money is less commonly obtainable.

Scroll: £400

What's this I hear you ask? You can simply BUY the things you need in the shop? It's not that easy actually. As well as being pretty expensive, these will only reveal one letter of the code. Of course you could go out and hunt for them yourself, but sometimes an enemy will be hard to reach, or your time may be running out. While scrolls will look like those in the shop up to Level 4, therein and afterwards, they become trickier to get; like hearts, they float to the top of the screen. In fact I've been playing this game over 15 years and I've JUST realised what the design of L4 and beyond scrolls is; it's a red balloon with the scroll wrapped up at the bottom. (Well thank Heavens that mystery's over with!)

Superscroll: £2500

The Ultimate Behemoth of the game. This baby allows you, albeit for an incredible price, to bypass the entire code of any level, making it an often invaluable tool for speeding up game completion, especially since, on rare and likely random occasions in certain places, they are released from some enemies! Of course as with hearts and later scrolls, they float to the top of the screen. Of course since I've said above that the max code length is 6 letters, and a scroll letter on its own is £400, it doesn't take a genius to do the math and see that a Superscroll is a waste of £100 and in some cases more. But that strategy stuff comes later.

Know Your Enemy

No game would be complete without a replete selection of foes to fight. Each level has its own unique adversaries, some popping back later on in the game in different colors.

Level 1:

Dinosaurs: Making their first appearance of two in the game, these will often be your first target of the game. Coming in grey and red varieties on the left and right hand-sides of the level respectively, these are a slow-moving lot and shouldn't trouble you at all.
Normal Weapon hits: 4
Super Weapon hits: 2

Mosquitos: One of three appearances, these pesky flying things will be serene enough at the start of the game. Do be careful not to catch yourself when jumping to a higher area.
Normal Weapon hits: 2
Super Weapon hits: 1

Butterflies: Looking more like Wafer biscuits, these creatures (which also spawn from Worms later on) are lower-level hazards, which should not provide much problems in this beginning area.
Normal Weapon hits: 2
Super Weapon hits: 1

Snails: These are one of the most common enemy throughout the game, occuring in three individual levels. Some will appear to be sleeping (always denoted specially on mugshot as outside), and if this is the case an extra hit regardless of weapon is needed to disrupt their dreams before you give them nightmares.
Normal Weapon hits: 3
Super Weapon hits: 1

Alien Men: These are a single-level enemy, the most common in this area. Looking shifty with their hands in their green pockets, they're quite quick movers, so mind how you go.
Normal Weapon hits: 3
Super Weapon hits: 1

Level 2:

Snails: Occurring again, as red blue and green dotted throughout the level, with same hit stats as above.

Dinosaurs: Making a second appearance, throughout the level, with same hit stats as above.

Flying Fish: Appearing in the sea areas of the level, these will block your path to the right hand side, but are easy to disperse.
Normal Weapon hits: 3
Super Weapon hits: 1

Mush Beasts: Making their first appearance of two in the game, these green (and later red) beasts are the same height as Flimbo, so can't be hopped over on the same level. They do however walk relatively slowly, so can be usually disposed with easily.
Normal Weapon hits: 4
Super Weapon hits: 2

Pterodactyls: These red and green birds fly high and mid levels here. Some of them on the left side (although if you follow them they will traverse the whole level) will release the wondrous Superscroll when killed.
Normal Weapon hits: 2
Super Weapon hits: 1

Level 3:

Eggs: The only static enemy (and their only appearance) in the game, these provide an easy score on the bridges of level 3. Be careful jumping over them though if you're in a time scramble.
Normal Weapon hits: 4
Super Weapon hits: 2

Rats: Pesky red creatures, which walk on the long areas left of the shop. They aren't a problem, but are one of the types of enemy who will disappear if they reach the end of their walkway.
Normal Weapon hits: 5
Super Weapon hits: 2

Mush Beasts: Making a second appearance, and coming again in red and green varieties. Interestingly, they are now stronger against the normal weapon, but are still not really a problem.
Normal Weapon hits: 6
Super Weapon hits: 2

Skullmen: A small, one-level enemy, in red and white varieties (though the game shows others as blue and green too), who will parade all over the level, oftentimes in groups of 4.
Normal Weapon hits: 4
Super Weapon hits: 2

Mosquitos: Making another appearance, just the same as before.

Giant Armadillo: Perhaps the rarest enemy in the game, this will appear if you faff about on the extreme right of the level sometimes. In fact it's hugeness gave me nightmares as a kid, but it's a token placement in the game.
Normal Weapon hits: 14
Super Weapon hits: 7

Level 4:

Mosquitos: Appearing yet again! Here though they do become dangerous, flying at medium and sometimes rather low levels.

Pussy: Making their only showing, these red and grey beasts look cute, but will sometimes turn back on you mid path, and can be lethal without a Super Weapon.
Normal Weapon hits: 6
Super Weapon hits: 2

Lynx: These red and black enemies appear only here, and have been known to give up Super weapons when they're killed. A problem when you're racing back to the middle, they climb the columns of the level so watch out.
Normal Weapon hits: 5
Super Weapon hits: 2

Toads: Very determined enemy, who haunt this and Level 7, coming in green and red. They will often fly just below platforms, so have to be jumped, and can traverse gaps too.
Normal Weapon hits: 2
Super Weapon hits: 1

Pigeons: Flying through the skies, green and possessing a large vertical wingspan, these are the most dangerous enemy on the level, also showing in Level 6. They will chase you back from the right hand side, and often force you to duck, which can be perilous.
Normal Weapon hits: 5
Super Weapon hits: 2

Level 5:

Blue Athlete: Their first of two showings, these blue perils can fly between platforms, constituting a serious threat. They also run at the same speed as Flimbo, so you can't afford to get caught up in a pack.
Normal Weapon hits: 3
Super Weapon hits: 1

Butterflies: Reappearing, but now they can spawn from worms, fly in packs, and can cause great nuisance at lower levels. It's even worse; they fly between platforms sometimes as well!
Normal Weapon hits: 5
Super Weapon hits: 2

Snails: Them again! Stronger than before, and not really that much of a problem, in fact one of them you need for the code can be found very easily on the right-hand side.
Normal Weapon hits: 5
Super Weapon hits: 2

Armadillos: Armadillo! Soft on the inside crunchy on the outside! Armadillo! The smaller cousins of the ultra-rare Level 3 beast, they're slow, but still threatening when you have a screenfull of enemies to fend off.
Normal Weapon hits: 5
Super Weapon hits: 2

Dragons: The biggest baddest badass in the game. These red devils fly from the left of the screen, and worse still, they actually follow you in the y-axis as well as the x, such that if you drop down the screen, they'll drop too! They take an age to kill and can sometimes appear only one screen from the start, to the left. Extreme caution required.
Normal Weapon hits: 10
Super Weapon hits: 4

Level 6

Pigeons: The same as before, coming from the left now. Can be annoying if you suddenly have to drop down and find yourself catching them up.

Blue Athlete: Just the same as before, running on the top and bottom of the level. Pain central.

Dragons: Just the same as before, except now they're silver (gotta move with the times you know), and fly from the right.

Monks: These red and white terrors are taller than Flimbo, making jumping one from the same platform impossible. They do however, for their troubles, often release an hourglass on death. With the BLUES in tandem, they pose a serious threat.
Normal Weapon hits: 8
Super Weapon hits: 3

Ghosts: Coming here and in Level 7, these spooky sods have 3 different forms, with the merest subtle change to their mugshots to help you decide which. If you don't realise which one you're after, you can often get squished by their coming out from behind top-level columns. Once one is activated, it will continue to menace you.
Normal Weapon hits: 4
Super Weapon hits: 2

Level 7

Toads: Making another appearance, just as annoying as before.

Ghosts: One of the most dangerous enemies, they will now, like the old dragons, follow you in vertical or horizontal position, and again come out of any crevice you can imagine, in groups, and sometimes just from the side of the screen!
Normal Weapon hits: 4
Super Weapon hits: 2

The Hook: No, not THAT Hook, just a hook suspended on a bar. This thing extends down blindly trying to catch Flimbo unawares, but isn't really much to worry about, apart from taking inordinately large amounts of power to kill.
Normal Weapon hits: 10
Super Weapon hits: 4

Quasimodo: NO, not THAT Quasimodo, rather an ugly red beast that walks the flats of the level, and which will, like rats, explode at the end of their walkway.
Normal Weapon hits: 10
Super Weapon hits: 4

Boogerman: There were a host of other monikers I could give this guy, among them, King Cabbage, or Gary Green. Either way he's as rare as those Giant Armadillos, half the screen in height, and takes so long to kill that you're better off running for it from the get-go.
Normal Weapon hits: 14
Super Weapon hits: 7

Secrets

Dotted throughout the game, as documented above, there exist a number of points at which Flimbo can simultaneously fire and duck, which shall be referred to henceforth as fireducking, to obtain free goodies. There are differences between game versions for this, I am reliably informed, but the secrets here can be applied if you're wanting to make the game slightly easier.

Level 1:

Super Weapon: Obtained by going to the extreme left, and fireducking on the top rung of the ladder there.

Screen kill: Does exactly what it says; also kills a few enemies just outside the margins of the screen. Obtained by fireducking directly above the shop.

Extra Time: As with hourglasses bought or obtained, you get 2 more minutes from this trick. Fireduck at the entrance of the east bank.

Level 2:

Extra time: Fireduck at the entrance of the west bank.

Invulnerability: Obtained by fireducking on the strip of land underneath the most westerly bridge, but be careful for sometimes a flying fish will defend there.

Superscroll: Yes you heard it, you can get a Superscroll for free! Fireduck in the middle of the easternmost strip of land of the level, directly below the hole in the broken bridge. I had for a while believed that this gave you a superscroll regardless, however this is only the case when the required creature is very near. Otherwise, if you have nothing or a heart you get a scroll.

Level 3:

Super Weapon: Fireduck at the westernmost black hole, on the bottom of the screen. Careful; Mush beasts will sometimes appear around here.

Invulnerability: Fireduck on the platform which appears below the first Mush beast hole right of the exit, directly to the left of the Mush hole with what looks like a punchbag at the top, kinda like in your mouth.

Extra time: Fireduck with Flimbo right beside the easternmost green pillar, on its right side.

Level 4:

Screen kill: Fireduck on the fifth platform from the westernmost side; the first one that is above water. Careful not to release the fire button before the down, or you will meet a watery grave.

Superscroll: Another chance to bypass the entire level, and its easier than ever! Fireduck on the platform directly above the exit. Same as in Level 2, it requires the scrolly beast to be onscreen or the reward is lower.

Extra life: Something very hard to come by indeed! Get to the only bank (east side), and get to the very top right-most platform, and fireduck.

Level 5:

Super Weapon: Useful, although in this level if you need to get it you may have a hard time. Fireduck on the westernmost platform that contains a visible face, square shaped with a bit more on the top-left.

Invulnerability: Fireduck on the penultimate land strip on the east side, upon which the background castle becomes fully visible.

Level 6:

Superscroll: Fireduck in the middle of the temple on the west side, past the bank, but be careful; Blue Athletes and Pigeons will try to stop you. Extra useful is that this superscroll comes for gratis regardless of your current item status.

Extra time: Fireduck in front of the cross at the easternmost part of the level, beyond the shop.

Level 7:

Screen Kill: Fireduck in the middle of the highest platform, just right of the bank in the west of the level. If you go over there you may as well do this, but if you're doing it for kicks, you must be suicidal.

Superscroll: Vitally, you can't just sponge a free superscroll out of the game here. Oh no! If you have a heart or nothing, you get a scroll, if you already have a scroll you get the superscroll. Fireduck in the extreme bottom right corner of the level past the shop.

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