Flashback Review – Jumping Jack Flash
Nostalgia can be a double-edged sword at times. When that old-timey feeling of bringing a classic game back from the past fires on all cylinders, it’s a great example of how the industry has evolved. When it misses any chance to improve though? It’s hammers home the reason why some games just never should have been remade. Which is exactly where Flashback falls into.
Think back to 1993, and you might have played a game back then that looked amazing on the home consoles of that day. Flashback was beautiful, fluidly animated and incredible to watch in action. It wasn’t much more than that though, and is quite frankly an overrated cult classic.
Enter VectorCell, who have remade the game entirely. It’s got new graphics, new audio and all new problems beneath that shiny veneer. The quick-fire game focuses on some retro sci-fi story-telling stolen straight out of a Phillip Dick novel.
The planet is being slowly invaded by a disguised alien menace, and as GBI agent Conrad Hart, it’s up to you to put a stop to these shenanigans. After you recover all your memories first. Amnesia can be a bitch. It’s a cheesy story, one that feels like 90s sci-fi and the story itself is passable. It’s a level of quality that the gameplay shares as well.
Straight off the bat, Flashback feels like a Prince of Persia style game. Levels are 2D, and Conrad can run, jump, duck and roll through them. And in this manner, the gameplay is…ok. In addition to some basic motion, Conrad also picks up a gun that can charge up, grenades, rocks and a portable shield as the game progresses.
And it’s a game that puts a lot more focus on action. You’ll regularly find yourself facing hordes of robots, guards and mutants, with the sometimes twitchy right analogue stick being used for aiming at enemies. But Flashback also switches things up with some puzzles that make use of the 2D nature of the game design. Again, not bad, but nothing that would make me run out and buy the game.
A level up system is also in place, where players can upgrade their health and skills. But in Flashback, that addition feels absolutely worthless, as funnelling points into it makes no discernable difference whatsoever.
The problem though, is the game feels unfocused at times. You can find yourself dying repeatdley for who knows what reason, and a number of glitches can spoil any momentum that is built up when you do find yourself progressing. I’ve had to restart levels a number of times, thanks to the fact that Conrad would just flat-out refuse to move, or that I found myself rolling into a wall and getting stuck there.
You’ll spend a couple of hours getting through the game though, which isn’t exactly bad for the price asked if you can look past the visuals. Chuck in the original game, and you’ll simultaneously see how far the game has come while stepping backwards at the same time.
Flashback was reviewed by Darryn Bonthuys on a Xbox 360