Flashback, Megadrive/Genesis

Delphine Software‘s classic futuristic adventure game, Flashback, came out first on the Amiga in 1992 but was originally developed with the Sega Megadrive as its target platform.

Timing and cartridge production issues meant that it came out after a number of other ports had already been released, but that didn’t dent enthusiasm for the game on the Megadrive.

If Flashback owes a debt of gratitude to anything it’s probably Prince of Persia, because its gameplay echos Jordan Mechner‘s classic quite a bit. It also has some similarities to Delphine‘s previous hit, Another World, and Philip K. Dick‘s novel, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (later to become the hit film Total Recall), and Stephen King‘s novel The Running Man. It’s a “cinematic platform game” in essence, and a story about mutants, memory loss and conspiracies.

It is the year 2142 and you play Conrad, a young man who has just crash-landed in a jungle on Titan (yes, Titan), and who seems to have lost his memory. A nearby ‘holocube’ contains a message from your friend, Ian (yes, Ian), who gives instructions to meet. So the aim is to go meet Ian and find out what the hell is going on in this demented video game.

Conrad has a pistol with unlimited ammo and a portable shield that can block enemy shots. Unfortunately he doesn’t have much else, so must rely on his acrobatic skills to jump, climb, grab and fall his way to safety as he explores. If he falls too far, though, he’ll die, so caution is needed when hanging by fingertips.

As anyone who’s played Flashback knows: this is not an easy game. It’s all about timing and button-presses. Well, the correct button-presses, at the right time, because the situations demand it. The puzzles are sometimes complex, but are generally about acquiring something that will allow progress (false papers to get through a checkpoint, for example), and the “Death Tower” section of the game is a nice surprise (I won’t ruin it for you).

Flashback is a classic on any system but this Megadrive version is arguably the best version ever made. It was described by US Gold at the time as “a CD-ROM game on a cartridge” and that is probably not too far from the truth.

More: Flashback on Wikipedia

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