The original Flashback on the Sega Genesis was one of my favourite games as a child. Difficult, clever, and stylish, it shall forever conjure up warm memories whenever I fire it up on my genesis. It is with great shame, however, that I inform each of you that the newly-released Flashback remake on Xbox LIVE arcade is boring, and has little in common (bar the story) with the Sega Genesis classic. That is to say, it’s garbage.
Harsh words to begin a review with, but no matter how hard I try to put Flashback in a positive light, it really is a mundane platformer, with no redeeming qualities, no matter who you are as a gamer. Let’s begin at the beginning though, shall we?
Flashback’s protagonist, Conrad, is shown at the beginning of the game being pursued by aliens. Stealing a hover cycle, he escapes into a jungle on Titan, only to crash and fall deep into the jungle. Upon waking, he discovers he has no recent memory (due to it being wiped by aliens), but quickly finds his pistol, as well as a holocube, which bears a message from him, telling him to travel to New Washington and find his friend Ian, and that’s how his “adventure” begins.
The original Flashback was extremely difficult. Similar to the DOS Prince of Persia games, the jungles in Flashback contained many traps, which would instantly kill Conrad and force the player to restart the level. In this modern remake, however, the death-traps are more minor inconveniences, and do little more than sting Conrad just long enough for him to make a smartass remark.
When he’s not defying the laws of physics by bathing in electricity, Conrad is traversing the jungle in search of a way to New Washington. There are plenty of movement puzzles, if you could call them that. Rather, there are plenty of times where you have to jump up and climb things. You’d be forgiven for thinking that climbing things sounds fun, as you have probably played Assassin’s Creed or something similar, but this is repetitive and boring, and thanks to how easy this game is, also feels pointless as there is no immediate danger. Even death feels like a minor inconvenience as should you fall off a cliff in Flashback, you simply reload to a near checkpoint. For the record, the game doesn’t improve once the “main” story kicks into gear at New Washington, it simply coasts along, only with less jumping.
It is puzzling to me as to why some things from the old flashback were present in this new iteration, and other things scrapped. Flashback 2013 feels like a cheap imitation. Sure, the graphics are modernised and Conrad now has stubble on his face and a hoodie under his jacket (how futuristic!), but the exclusion of some difficulty (regardless of the setting) really irks me. The game doesn’t feel difficult and therefore doesn’t feel rewarding at all.
The story also fails to captivate me like the 1992 version did because everyone in this game is a dick. Conrad is a dick, Ian (his friend) is a dick, the aliens are of course dicks and anyone you run into is a dick. Except for the civilians in the background, who must be on heavy medication because I run through a highly-populated being chased by droids, fired my pistol and threw some grenades and not one person was bothered. Hell, they didn’t even look in my direction.
There are also problems with the controls, and I found that climbing and jumping weren’t the simply-executed moves they should be. Time and time again I ran past climbing points, despite holding up or stopping in front of a cliff edge and then holding up.
This is one of the few times that I haven’t finished a game I have reviewed. Shameful, perhaps, but Flashback isn’t worth its asking price, nor is it worth any of your time. If you do wish to play a 2D action platformer, get Shadow Complex, which Flashback 2013 appears to try to emulate, though that could just be the fact they both are 2D platformers built on the Unreal engine.
It’s a shame this remake doesn’t do the original justice, as Flashback ’92 really is a top notch game, and a triumph of skilled game design.
- Nice-ish graphics
- Extremely easy on all settings
- Annoying voice acting
- No rewarding gameplay
Flashback had a sequel on the PlayStation (PSX) called Fade to Black, which definitely has the potential for a remake, so long as Conrad forgets just how badass he is for forgetting to shave.
If you’re clambering for an HD remake of a classic, do not hesitate to check out the Castle of Illusion remake from Sega Australia, or the Monkey Island remakes, available on the Xbox LIVE Arcade, or the PSN. Flashback however, should ironically be wiped from our memories.
Score – 4/10