Thursday 20 June 2019

Flashback Review (Switch)

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.

Flashback 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 further developed with Another World. Due to this style the title’s main character appears 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.

This new version of the game has a new sound track, which unfortunately does not quite live up to original. Sound effects are crisp and the music still works to 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 Switch version of the game also runs much more smoothly than before meaning many of the frustrations surrounding positioning Conrad are eased considerably.

Despite the claims of the advertising blurb there are few new additions in this Switch re-release. As mentioned before the new soundtrack doesn’t quite work and the saving system should have been overhauled for a much better experience. The rewind feature is very useful (allowing you to wind back time if you make a mistake) and this will undoubtedly help players progress through the more frustrating moments but that is about it. The physical version of the game also comes with a very badly designed case that doesn’t fit the manual and also won’t hold the game card steady. This is ridiculous and just screams of poor design.

Overall, Flashback remains 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. This Switch re-release is pretty bare bones in terms of features though. Much more could and should have been done to give the game the love and respect it deserves. It’s still worth playing but returning fans won’t find much here that they couldn’t get by booting up the original and the physical edition is nothing short of pathetic.

Overall 7/10

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