Remember the original Flashback on the Megadrive, Amiga and whatever else it came out on? It was good.
It came out in a time where anthropomorphic animal mascots were all the rage, so a scifigame that was influenced by (for that read ‘direct rip off’) of stuff like Total Recall and They Live was something pretty interesting.
It was also bloody hard.
It was one of those precision platformers that used to be all the rage, like the original Prince of Persia, or Abe’s Oddysee, without the farting. One slight drop off a ledge and you’d lay there in a crumpled, dead heap. It was a Sisyphean feat going through that game.
The remake isn’t anywhere near as difficult. It’s got a little Metroid style map in the corner now. It also throws obvious hints at you.
On one hand, it’s nice that you don’t get so infuriated by it, and you can get onto the next part of the game in less than an hour now, rather than the days you spent getting bamboozled in the woods on the original because you were young and stupid.
However, it’s lost something in the process.
Flashback felt pretty daunting, between the difficulty and the weird (if you were 9 years old) atmosphere. There was something special about it. Maybe it’s down to the inevitable march of time and the metamorphosis into ‘grumpy old sod,’ but this new version of Flashback just doesn’t elicit the same sense of wonder and foreboding.
For those unaffiliated you play a chap called Conrad Hart, a secret agent who wakes up in the woods with no memory of who he is. I’d say ‘har har we’ve all been there’ to score lad points, but frankly that would be a lie.
Anyway you leap about as Conrad in a 2D plain and recover flashes of your memory and uncover a huge alien conspiracy. There’s some RPG levelling up too, because people love feeling like they’re getting superficially better at something.
It’s not a bad game to be honest, and you don’t have to be pixel perfect with jumps now, due to a larger margin of error.
It’s a lot like the Xbox live version of Prince of Persia that came out a few years back that was also much more accessible, but where that still had the style and atmosphere of the original game in spades, the Flashback remake feels like any characterless scifigame that came out in the last few years.
Also it tries to be funny and falls completely flat.
Please explain, what possible reason could a hardened, trigger-happy secret agent from the future with amnesia have for using the term (and I quote) ‘awesome-sauce.’ Do they still have 4chan in the future or something?
It doesn’t help the way he whoops and hollers when he gets a health pickup either. This wasn’t what the original was like, where you always felt like you were up against it. Conrad Hart goes around like a fratboy now. Since when did uncovering a terrifying apocalyptic alien conspiracy give someone the right to dick around like Van Wilder?
It’s Unreal Engine too, so everything is plastic and shiny. The original Flashback looked fairly unique, so the new one looking just like Shadow Complex or something similar is a let-down.
Oh well. It’s a shame they made Conrad completely unlikable, because otherwise, Flashback isn’t awful, and the original is included too if you fancy a pummelling. It absolutely didn’t need to be remade though, and the game’s lost something in its modern iteration.
It’s not quite the travesty VectorCell’s previous game Amy was, but some things, like the mighty Steps once said, are better best forgotten.
Version Tested: Xbox 360