The 1993 cult classic resurfaces in a stunning re-imaging for the Summer of Arcade collection on Xbox Live. The unfortunate sequel Fade to Black that was on the Playstation back in 1995 was not very good because of the poor control scheme and poor graphics for the time. Luckily Ubisoft have gone back to the routes of the series and have returned to the platforming glory that is Flashback. Even at the main menu you can play the original 1993 version if you have nostalgia shades on and you want a blast from the past.
Lets start with the story which has been finely tuned thanks to the new lick of paint that has been bestowed upon this title. Back in the early 90’s it was hard to convey a strong story the only way you could do it is through text or the manual. Thankfully this version of the game has cutscenes to explain what is going on. You play as Conrad who was once an undercover agent who has lost his memory. In this game you must acquire “Flashbacks” to regain his memory one bit at a time. He can’t have it all in one go because it would overload and destroy his mind and probably because it would be a short game otherwise.
This whole game is just a complete re-skin of the original (which isn’t a bad thing) and I must say that it looks beautiful, from the vibrant jungles at the beginning to the bustling neon filled metropolis in New Washington. Considering it’s a budgeted XBLA title it looks triple A, even the character models aren’t too bad despite the hilarious voice acting. In New Washington you have a whole city to explore and considering that this game is a platformer it’s surprisingly open ended and you can tackle and obstacle you can see fit from avoiding your enemies or confronting them in combat.
How does the game handle? It has a smoother running and jumping control scheme compared to original. Conrad moves from one location to other with ease and with no awkward movements which seemed to annoy me in the original. But the 1993 versions animations felt more realistic because the character felt weighted, in this one he seems a bit floaty with movement, but overall good solid controls. You have various ways of attacking your enemies which can vary from guns, hand to hand combat and throw-able weapons such as grenades, rocks, and other things.
You control your aiming with the right analogue stick to give a precise hit on your opponent but sometimes it can feel a bit weak and you can lose control when you are firing or throwing a grenade, well in my case anyway, maybe I’m not very good. The enemies you come up against can range from your standard robotic guards with jetpacks to your roaming death droids. The main problem I have with the enemies is that some of them can be really cheap I’m not saying that I don’t like a challenge, quite the opposite it’s just the fact that in some circumstances I get mobbed by every in enemy in one go, which resolves in my death.
Throughout your quest of regaining your memory you’ll be able to upgrade Conrad to make have better accuracy so he can cause critical damage with weapons or perhaps you can make stronger with his melee combat so you easily despatch your foes. The way you gain experience is you standard RPG fair by doing jobs or killing enemies. The overall progression system it pretty average and a bit lacklustre I would of like to see a gun customisation or customise Conrad’s clothes or appearance.
Overall you get your money’s worth and considering that it’s only 800 MSP it’s well worth the time and investment, not only do you get this version but you get the original. Despite the few glitches here there which don’t happen to often – for example sometimes Conrad won’t be able to move after battle because he stuck in a animation – but I expect they’ll fix them and it doesn’t happen often enough to sour the experience. I would recommend buying this game if you want to play it for nostalgia or if you are new comer you’ll enjoy it.