Finally, one of the best action games of the 16-bit era, Flashback, has just been released on XBLA, PSN and Windows with updated HD graphics in 2.5D, voice-acting, an expanded story and members of the original team. Oh and they’ve included the 1992 game so you can experience the original. I’ve always been a fan of Flashback and the fact that original team members were involved game me more hope than I’ve had for most video game remakes, unfortunately the remake just doesn’t do much to improve on the award-winning original. It doesn’t suck but it isn’t the same mind-blowing experience.
The remake begins the same way the original did, your character, Conrad. B. Hart is chased by guys with guns, Conrad escapes on a hoverbike thing, they follow in futuristic spacecraft, shoot him down and he crashes in a jungle on the planet Titan. You soon discover that you have lost your memory, fortunately a holocube with a pre-recorded by Conrad tells you to head to New Washington and the adventure begins.
With lush backgrounds, detailed characters and lighting effects, the remake improves on the technical limitations of the original but the charm found in the technically impressive rotoscoped animations of the 16-bit game have been replaced by generic visual elements. It’s pretty to look at but fails to stand out when compared to current sci-fi action games or even the inspiration for the remake.
The controls are a noticeable improvement with the remake as the movements are much more fluid, it is easier to jump across wide gaps in the remake (the original sucked,) and the 360-degree aiming makes it easier to take out enemies. The controls can be a bit awkward right off the bat but you quickly get used to them thanks to some early in the level tutorial-ish moments.
The remake now features voice-acting but whenever a character says, “awesome-sauce,” you pretty much know what to expect from the rest of the character catch-phrases. The script isn’t awful, but the lines and delivery are sub-par so you reach a point where wish you could mute the voice-acting and just read the captions. The music is decent but it sits in the background and combined with the voice-acting, doesn’t do anything to enhance the game.
The remake does features a few new surprises, the gameplay is solid and it retains most of the feel of the original. Throw in the 1992 game as part of the package and you have a solid product. It isn’t anything amazing but doesn’t hurt the franchise and might help kickstart a sequel. Or not.