August 21, 2013

Flashback HD

Lasting First Impressions

Flashback HD Boxart


t’s been 20 years since the cult classic game Flashback was released, but thanks to Ubisoft and developer Vectorcell, this week’s Xbox Summer of Arcade title brings the game into the current generation in Flashback HD.  Players take on the role of Conrad Hart as he has escaped the clutches of an evil, alien, government and is on the run to recover lost shards of his memory.  It is a retro sci-fi 2D platformer with puzzles and plenty of guns and cybernetic enemies in a style that is reminiscent of Total Recall.

The original Flashback, released 4 years after the first Prince of Persia game, employed the same style of character movement and control.  This new HD remake doesn’t update those controls at all and we are stuck with the same stop motion style movements.  Conrad has to come to a complete stop before jumping up to grab a ledge above him; jumping over holes in the floor or obstacles look awkward at best.  He does, however, run, dodge and duck capably.  There is a reason that the Prince of Persia series continued to move into the next generation of gaming with smoother animations and controls; this style of movement just doesn’t work in this day and age.  After playing the game for a while, though, the controls do become something of a second nature and my original misgivings fell away.  For the most part.  There are still areas where this control still gets in the way of the game itself.

Flashback HD

Vectorcell has done a superb job updating the graphics to a beautiful HD quality while still keeping with the original look and feel as the 1993 version.  Levels are designed wonderfully, blending elements of stealth, combat, and platforming in a perfectly balanced way.  I never feel like there were too many enemies attacking at one time or any particular puzzle was too difficult to figure out.  Puzzles are fairly simple in form from blasting switches to open doors, timing jumps to miss an instant death, or simply figuring your way through a particular level.

Flashback HD mixes in RPG elements as well, giving players level up skill points to spend to increase their health, accuracy or damage.  The story will continually give players new objectives that may require retracing steps into sections already explored in order to satisfy the goals and move on to the next.

While Flashback HD, at first, didn’t seem like much, the more I played it, the more I wanted to keep playing.  Every element in the game is perfectly balanced so that there is never too much of one thing.  The full voice acting is campy and silly which plays along with the retro 90’s sci-fi theme that has been fully restored from the original. For those who want to see how the original game played, there is even an arcade cabinet on the main menu that can be accessed. Believe me, though, once you play that version, you’ll thank Vectorcell for creating Flashback HD.  While it’s not a game that will live in your memory forever, it is definitely worth checking out.  Perhaps this is the first in a new series of Flashback games.

Vectorcell, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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