Here’s how much I loved Flashback: The Quest for Identity: when a clearly unsanctioned version of the classic sci-fi platformer surfaced on Apple’s App Store a few years ago, I knew better than to buy it. But I did anyway. I think the janky code successfully ran only once. It wasn’t enough to rekindle my memories of the Genesis game.
Yet, when I saw the trailer for the newly announced re-make earlier today, this was my reaction in chat:
Evan N.: man, that Flashback re-make... I JUST DON'T KNOW
Mike F.: The original team worked on it, so it's okay.
If anything makes me hopeful about the new Flashback, it’s that very fact. The game’s back in the hands of many of the same people who created it. But, it still sounds like some things are changing. Here’s an excerpt from a canned interview that accompanied today’s Flashback re-make reveal:
Is it the same story?
The story is true to the original scenario, and all the characters and their enemies from the first game are all back. It has been beefed up and modernized though. Some characters that were sort of in the background in the first version were developed and have taken on more importance. We also went back and took a longer look at some of the blurry spots in the first Flashback and the fans will hopefully discover certain aspects of the world that might have been overlooked.
What are the improvements brought to the original game?
Our first objective was to remain faithful to the spirit of the original game, but to also take full advantage of the computing power of today’s machines. Quite a few points were considered to bring the game up to standards. The first was obviously in the graphics department. We also gave a facelift to the gameplay by making it more reactive and dynamic, the reactivity and instinctive control of Conrad being two points that we really take to heart. We also integrated an experience progression system for the character and his equipment, with upgrades that can be found throughout the various levels.
Accessibility was brought up to current standards as was the Level Design that would seem rather punishing through today’s lenses if we had kept it exactly as it was. All in all, though, we’re extremely happy with the result. We feel we were able to keep Flashback’s soul and put it into a new body.
What team at Vector Cell has been working on the game? Did they take part in the development of the original game?
We’re a team of fifteen, and five of the lead were part of the original project. To that you have to add externals that came in to work on various specialized domains: film direction, sound design, music, dialogues & scenario.
Now, wary as I am, I’d be perfectly happy to have gotten a graphically overhauled version of old-school Flashback. This new game seems louder and more explode-y than the original, which came across as a more deliberately paced affair, almost like a sci-fi silent movie. And there will also likely be soundtrack changes of one sort or another.
I’m glad to be able to revisit Flashback’s dystopian future but part of the original game’s charm was how it banged up against the technical limitations of the day. It was slower (but not too slow), quiet (but not boring) and felt more like a brain teaser than a shooter. Here’s hoping that the new game doesn’t feel too modern.