Review: Flashback, excellent arcade adventure game
What happens if you ‘borrow’ plots from The Running Man, The Lawnmower Man, Total Recall, They Live and Blade Runner and mix them together? You create the plot of Flashback. In Delphine’s latest you take the role of a young scientist who, by inventing a pair of glasses which can read molecular density, discovers that aliens have infiltrated society. Once the aliens realise this, they kidnap you and drop you on their planet with a blank mind. Flashback is an arcade adventure from the team that brought you Another World, but this is far more basic, going more for the traditional platform adventure. Unfortunately, this means puzzles where you have to find an object and give it to someone else. Yawn. On the upside, loads and loads of action! Yes, Flashback is rich with the stuff Arnie’s films are made of, with more scraps than Street Fighter 2! You begin the game with few possessions and no idea as to who or where you are. Move one screen down and you find a holocube which gives you some idea of what to do. 0ff you trot and before long you’re picking up stones and using them to open doors, or manipulating lifts using an intricate set of foot switches. The game is played over seven levels, and each level is cleverly broken down into segments. Not that you’d notice the segments. From the start, there are only about eight screens you can actually get to – the rest of the level is blocked by a bridge that has to be activated.
By some stroke, the last puzzle of the segment happens to be the bridge activator, so you move to the next segment without realising it. It is the variation in the gameplay that makes Flashback so groovy. On level two, you race around a space city, talking to people and eventually working for a living. From there on there’s a part in a futuristic game show and your return to Earth. The graphics are fabulous. Using Rotoscaping, Delphine have come up with the most realistic main character animation ever, even better than Prince Of Persia. Every possible movement has been covered, and no matter what you do, the sprite always moves in a fluid and convincing way. The same goes for all the enemy sprites and other animation. ‘Film-like’ was a phrase that swam through my head while playing; ‘the best ever’ was another. Sound has been used to minimal effect, which is strange alongside the obvious effort put into the visuals. Very few spot effects and the occasional burst of music make up the aural experience. One very nice touch, though, is the way that major effects, such as a cannon firing, can be heard faintly if you are on one of the screens adjacent to the action. Flashback is one hell of a good game. The first few times I played it, I hated it. Coming from the wrong angle, I assumed it was a graphic adventure, and with that in mind quite rightly panned it. It was only when I found myself bashing away on level four at three o’clock in the morning that I realised what a superb game it is. Its mix of quality animation and all-out blasting make it highly recommended.