Retro Profile: Flashback (SNES)

Upon seeing Flashback for the first time, I remember being shocked that the Super NES, or any 16-bit system was capable of producing a game of this caliber. Being a game that originated on PC and later ported to a good number of home consoles, all of the fluid gameplay still stayed intact. For me, I think the most impressive thing about this game was the inclusion of CG cut-scenes to help move the story along. Flashback was actually one of those games that I initially didn’t expect much from, but it ended up delivering the goods well before I got halfway through the game.

You start off in the jungle with only the bare essentials and go from there. As mentioned before, your primary weapon is your gun and thankfully, you have an infinite supply of bullets. However, strategy plays a pretty significant roll into how well you fair again the mutants and rival humans that you will face in your adventure across the galaxy. There will be many times when you will have to make use of certain items in addition to your gun to get rid of the enemies. For instance, there’s one (of many) parts in the game where you’ll have 2 armed mutants waiting for you on the platform below, so you’ll have to look for something like a rock to distract them with, or somehow trick them into killing themselves with their own weapons. Other times, you will have to contend with fast-moving drones that can get the upper hand on you if you’re not fast enough with that gun, and your moves.

The buttons on your controller serve as 3 main functions. You have your “Item” button, “Draw Gun” button, and the “Action/Shoot” button. Using those simple controls, you’ll be able to walk, run, roll, jump, hang, and even pistol-whip your foes, if you’re close enough to do it. Overall, the controls are very smooth and responsive, but you still need to be very careful when attempting to jump across gaps and over electrical walls. Sometimes it’s easy to misjudge when you need to jump or roll across certain obstacles. The last thing you want to do is land on an electrical field because you will soon be treated to a scene of Conrad’s bones being lit up like”¦well”¦someone being eletrocuted. Also, you can’t fall from too great of a height, or Conrad won’t be getting up after he lands on his shoulder. You actually have to think about what you are going to and how you’re going to do it, before trying it.

The in-game graphics are a pure joy to take in. Each section or planet that you will explore is well detailed with simple things that help to further immerse the player. The jungle level features many vines and moss growing on trees in fore and background. The city environments look alive with buildings, people to talk to, and a subway station to quickly get you to other locations around town. There is no part in the game where anything was left incomplete in the graphics department and that only helps Flashback to stand out in the crowd of adventure/platformer titles.

Play or Stay? If, you’re looking for a well balanced adventure game, Flashback has what you need. The game’s design makes it easy to get into the character, which is a must for all adventure games. The controls are well laid out and somewhat customizable too. Just be sure to configure it they way you want it in the options menu before starting the game. The sounds and graphics are a rarity to see in such detail on the 16-bit systems, and most importantly…you’ll have fun helping Conrad to accomplish his mission.

Jamie Alston is somewhat of an unusual gamer. While most people crave the visual delights that can be found in many of the current generation consoles of today, he actually prefers the 8-bit & “super 8-bit” (SNES) glory days of yesteryear. This is probably due in part to the fact that his brother chose the Nintendo Entertainment System over the Sega Genesis back in 1989…or maybe it had more to do with that time when he fell and hit his head on the blacktop in elementary school. Whatever the reason might be, Jamie has an undying love for those unnecessarily big cartridges he spent so many summer afternoons playing. When he’s not raiding trucks that “have started to move” for rations and key cards, he stays busy supporting his gaming hobby by working as a Policies & Procedures Analyst for a financial company in Baltimore, Maryland. And when he’s not working for “the man”, he’s working on the next retro review for the week. And when he’s not fighting off writer’s block and much needed sleep, he’s raiding trucks that “have started to”—well, you get the idea. Currently living in Randallstown, MD, Jamie sums up his life long dream this way: “If I one day find myself driving on the highway in a 2004 Honda Accord with an NES directional pad for a steering wheel, you can bet that I’ll be holding the up direction for that turbo boost on the straight-aways. That’s when I’ll know that I’ve finally made it in life”.