Wednesday 10 April 2013

Flashback Review (SNES)

Set in the year 2142, Flashback follows the story of Conrad Hart, member of the Galaxia bureau of investigation. After discovering that an alien race is infiltrating earth, Conrad is relentlessly hunted down and kidnapped by the non-human race. Awaking aboard their craft (without his memory), the only thing in his mind is to escape. After stealing a hover bike and making a break for freedom, Conrad is shot down and crash lands on a strange jungle-type planet. Conrad must now find his way back to earth, but first he has to remember what he is going back for.

The title presents itself as a sci-fi action adventure game with more than a passing influence from classic platformer Prince of Persia. Indeed, it does contain a great deal of gap jumping and hanging from ledges, though to say the game is just a Prince of Persia clone is way off the mark, as a heavy adventure aspect runs through the core of the experience. Upon its release (for a few months), Flashback was the only game anyone was playing, and even now the sci-fi storyline (bordering on Cyberpunk at times) remains a very interesting and engaging tale to discover.

 Flashback introduced a definitive version of a graphical style that had been tried in games such as Prince of Persia and developed with Another World.Due to this style the title’s main character appeares to move much more realistically than any games character before. The characters in Flashback are (if anything), a little small, but this does not detract from the fact that each sprite is well animated and contains a considerable amount of detail. Furthermore, each area within the game is absolutely beautiful, high in detail and uses a wide colour palette to represent the future circa 2142.

Accompanying the lush graphical style are some very effective mood building sound effects and an excellent soundtrack. As Conrad digs deeper into the plot, music lays subtle but broodingly sinister tunes over proceedings - something that really helps to make the player engage with the story. This feeling is further enhanced by the cinematic style of the game which often switches to a small cut scenes when something of interest is discovered. This acts to make Flashback feel more like an interactive movie, and keeps the plot moving along at a steady pace.

The unique graphical style allows Conrad to perform a wide variety of moves with ease, which is a good thing, as to get through the game you need to use every advantage available. Our hero can jump, grasp ledges, roll around and all manner of other things - even being able to decide whether after an action he will draw his gun ready to fire. For this type of game the control system is just about perfect, the only problem is that sometimes it can be a little slow to do things due to the large amount of animation for each movement. This  rarely has a negative impact on the game however.

Overall, Flashback is an outstanding title, a highly interesting plot underpinned by decent graphics and a solid control system that means you are always wanting to push on to see what piece of information will reveal itself. If there is a criticism it would be that the game does rise in difficulty quickly, and finishing it will require reflexes that even the most hardcore player may not be able to produce after a diet of Playstation and Xbox games. In spite of this, players are likely to persevere simply because the quality of the title is so high. The game is still fairly easy to get hold of and well worth hunting down should the opportunity arise. Flashback is a classic game that for a while was the next big thing, and in such a competitive era this was not easily achieved.


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