Developer: Vector Cell
Back in 1992 a game was released that not only set a new bench mark on how the action/platformer was too look in the future, but became a classic in the minds of gamer who had the pleasure of experiencing it. Flashback by Delphine Software was the follow up to their acclaimed release previously on the SNES and other platforms called Out of this World. What made Flashback so special was it managed to keep the deliberate game play and puzzle solving aspects intact, all while creating a larger and more complex game and storyline along with it. So when I heard that some of the original creators, now with a company called Vector Cell decided to remake this blast from the past from over 20 years ago, I was all giddy with excitement to revisit one of my favorite Genesis games. What I should have done was have a flashback of my own to Fade to Black, a follow-up of sorts to Flashback which was ultimately a disappointing title. My excitement would have been diminished and the unfortunate disappointment I am feeling at this point would be dulled ever so slightly.
Flashback drops you in the role of Colon B. Hart in a story that greatly borrows from Total Recall and the Running Man, as you are an agent who has lost his memory. With a little help from people who had the pleasure of knowing you, they provide you with these little pieces of your memory called Flashbacks… if you become their errand boy that is. The skills you hone and the knowledge that is locked inside your noodle will inevitably be able to save the human race, which is why the hordes of baddies are trying to keep things the way they are — cold, sterile and under their control.
Where this remake falls short is in two areas, with one being more aggravating than the next. First you must keep in mind that the original’s hero was a silent kind of fellow which added to the mystery of who he was and why you must help him retrieve his memories. Flash forward to this remake and they not only provided Colin with a voice, but an annoying one at that, which spouts off many horrible one liners and even worse, poorly paced and delivered voice acting. It’s hard to have a semblance of caring when you can’t take the game’s tone seriously with often repeating and nonsensical ramblings such as “Feeling Great, Time to Party, and Awesome Sauce”, all of which you will not want to hear again and again after playing through the game. It also doesn’t get much better when the people you interact with also spout off lines like “Don’t hurt me; I’ve got two virtual Kids”.
The most irritating change to this remake comes in the form of the actual game play. Virtually gone is the puzzle and platforming that was deliberately paced and really had you scouting the environments, and in its place is a subpar side-scrolling shooter that plays like Shadow Complex, only clunkier and nowhere near as fun. While it’s true that many of the levels are recreated to cater towards this design, the fact that the developer (who made the original) would change up the classic formula from a game design that was totally original to placate to the masses of brain dead shooter fans is a move that deserves a good slap to the face. Let’s just put it like this, if you hated the changes to what Lucas did to Star Wars, then just imagine the same feeling for fans of this classic game and you’ll get where I’m coming from.
While Flashback HD isn’t completely broken, it’s the fact that they remade such a classic and screwed the pooch with it. If the game was called something else, or if you were too young to play the original and remember just how epic it was, it would be a passable downloadable title. However, since my memory is just fine, this is one remake that is one of my biggest let downs of this generation. It doesn’t help that the developer implemented the original in playable form to remind me even further that 20 years later, visuals be damned, this remake called Flashback HD is just weak and should be forgotten.