Flashback was originally released for the Amiga back in 1992. If you were gaming during the 16-bit era, you most likely remember the ports of Flashback for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. The original Flashback had platforming similar to Prince of Persia along with shooting gameplay. I've only ever played the Genesis version of the original game, but I'll always remember it for its fluid character animations and animated cutscenes. 20 years later, we now have a remake of the original game developed by VectorCell and overseen by the creator of the original game, Paul Cuisset. The original game is available for 800 points on Xbox LIVE as part of their Summer of Arcade and will be released for PS3 and PC at a later date.
The remake of Flashback follows the storyline of the original and still has the same lead character. You still take control of Conrad B. Hart and navigate through the same familiar stages in order to regain his memory and stop an alien invasion. The remake plays similar to Shadow Complex. All stages have been redone and the graphics and controls have been modernized. The levels and overall look and movement of Conrad is very faithful to the original game. The game still controls similar to the original, with pressing up to grab ledges, but the gameplay is not as slow. Instead of having to take out your gun, you simply hold the right thumbstick in a direction to make Conrad take out his gun and aim in that direction to ready his weapons. Like with more modern shooters, you fire with the RT button.
The remake of Flashback is much more action-packed than the original game. The focus is more on shooting rather than trying to avoid confrontation - if it moves then blast it since it will eventually lock-on to Conrad and come dashing after him. The game still has plenty of platforming. You'll be climbing up and down ledges quite a bit throughout the course of the game. The majority of the puzzles mainly involve tossing a grenade through a vent hole in order to hit something on the other side of it. There are also a few pressure puzzles and time-based puzzles. There is one stage that is like a collection of puzzle challenges. The game offers one driving stage on a hover bike also.
Conrad still mainly uses a handgun to fight off his attackers. He can charge a shot to unleash an explosive blast that will take off more damage or clear more heavy obstacles out of the way. Conrad can toss grenades, throw rocks to gain enemy attention, toss explosive fruit and then shoot it to set it off and, toward the end of the game, he gets a teleporter that he can toss in any direction and then teleport to that spot. He can also melee attack and perform close-range stealth kills. Conrad has basic sneak kills that are activated by pressing the melee button behind enemies and he can also toss an enemy off a ledge while hanging from a ledge with the enemy above him.
As Conrad finishes off enemies and completes objectives, he will gain skill points with each level that he gains through gained experience. Skill points can be used to upgrade his attack power, health and explosive power. Overall, I never did truly see much of a difference while using the skill points to boost Conrad. The enemies toward the end of the game take a ridiculous amount of shots to finish off even with upgrades. There also upgrades hidden throughout the stages that can enhance Conrad's health and gun recharge rate along with other boosts. Each stage has a certain number of hidden alien creatures that can be shot for extra experience as well.
There are altogether around 7 stages just like in the original game. All of the stages from the original game are represented here, and they are all redone. The jungle stages has birds and insect that fly by while you navigate through the level. Hover cars fly by during a rainy outdoor portion of another stage. The additional stage detail is a very welcome improvement over the original. The game has new story elements and much spoken dialogue and cutscenes to help tell the story. The original Flashback that was released on the Amiga is available to play from the main menu without the need to beat the game. Once the game is beaten, it can be replayed with the same upgrades from the last time through in order to further upgrade Conrad - you can't fully upgrade him on the first playthrough. The game offers an Easy, Normal and Hard mode for difficulty.
The game is no longer as hard as the original game was. I've actually never been through the full original game since it had so much trial-and-error gameplay, but this remake is much easier on a player. That's not to say that some parts of the remake do not get hard however. I did die quite a few times on the journey through the game. It lasted a little over six hours on my first time through. Just about every enemy is taken from the old game and redone a bit to fit in the remake, but overall, Conrad fights the same enemy types.
Now that all the praising is out of the way, lets get to the flaws since this game is heavily weighted down by them. The remake of Flashback game is full of random glitches. Sometimes when Conrad is knocked to the ground from an explosion, he cannot move when he gets up - this happened a lot to me in the first few stages after getting knocked down from an exploding drone. The only way to fix the glitch was to reload the last checkpoint or die. One of the bosses got stuck in the environment while I was fighting him. The dialogue is sometimes WAY too low to hear it. There are several instances where you'll hear spoken dialogue during gameplay but the sounds of the gameplay drown it out. There is an option to turn up the dialogue and lower the in-game sounds, but this still didn't help that much since the dialogue was simply too low in some areas.
On top of the dialogue problems mentioned above, the voice acting is very weak - it's a mixed bag of good lines and bad lines. Some of the dialogue is laughable and embarrassing. Awesome-sauce? Conrad delivers some extremely cheesy lines at times that are completely unneeded. The dialogue makes the story hard to follow at times since I was either missing some of it from low dialogue volume or the spoken lines were delivered without meaning from poor acting. Those of you that are buying this remake for the original Flashback, long story short, don't! The original Flashback can only be played through an arcade cabinet view. The screen is smaller than 4:3 and there is also some glare on the cabinet glass in the actual game - it's part of the look for the cabinet view. The original also has music missing from it - the sound effects are still there though.
If the majority of the glitches and the view of the original game could be fixed, this would be a decent game, but as it stands now, this remake is weighted down quite a bit by glitches. The gameplay for the remake is pretty good overall - I enjoyed most of the main game, but the voice acting sure could be a turn-off a times. At 800 points, the game is worth a try for those that are looking for a decent 2D platformer but just make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. I'm sure some fans of the original Flashback might find something to like here, but the flaws are very evident no matter how much you like it. I actually like the game for what it is, but I can't deny its shortcomings.
+ Fun gameplay throughout the remake's campaign
+ Graphics and overall look is a nice upgrade to the original game
- Many glitches
- Voice acting is altogether weak
Final Rating: 60%. Flashback has resurfaced and is now upgraded for a new generation of gamers, but it's weighted down heavily with shortcomings.