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Title: Flashback - The Quest for Identity
Rom Player: Genecyst
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie

Synopsis: For those of you who remember the old platform game, Prince of Persia, this game will be a Flashback for you. If you haven’t played it or don’t remember it, you will be on a Quest for the Identity of this genre.

The premise for this mental malarkey is simple: You play a college student named Conrad Man-who-has-no-last-name. The very last thing you remember is escaping from captivity in a spaceship, and then being shot down as you fled. You wake up, crashed on a jungle planet, and then must find out that you are, who erased your memory (using a futuristic device I have dubbed “the de-memulator”), and most important of all, why they erased it.

Fun, huh? Now, the Quest for Identity portion of the title leads you to believe that a good portion of the game will be spent trying to figure out who you are. This proves untrue, however, as this is all revealed to you at the beginning of the second level, using what I have dubbed “the re-memulator.” In fact, it wouldn’t really hurt that much for me to tell you what the real plot of the game is, but it might ruin the surprise just a little bit.

Like I said early on, this game is in the genre of platform games that was defined by Prince of Persia. This game, however, comes across as an entirely new experience, and one that need not sit in the shadow of said other game, no matter how many times I mention it here. The differences themselves lie not just in the fact that this game has more of a futuristic, outer space feel to it.

The game has many puzzles in it, most of which involve you finding the right object and using it in the right place. Some objects, like a keycard, are used with thing in the background, while others, such as the holo-cube, can be operated on their own at anytime. The other types of objects are objects that are used for combat, such as the gun, forcefield, and shield. The shield functions as your life bar, as it will allow you to sustain a few gunshots, zaps, pistol-whips, and more before you die. The maximum number that your shield can hold is based on what difficulty level you choose in the beginning, ranging from 4 on easy, to 2 on hard.

One of the more noticeable aspects of the game is the style of the cutscenes. They’re done in that early three-dimensional style in which everyone appears to be made of a series of blocks and polygons. These days, that doesn’t seem like a monumental achievement, but it was a neat bonus back in the when all cutscenes, let alone pseudo-3D ones, were rare on any console game. The cutscenes are sprinkled about quite liberally; In addition to the opening one, you will see cutscenes when you pick up an object off of the ground, use an object on someone/thing, whenever you beat a level, and when you die in a few specific ways. While they are impressive to a degree, you can still opt to skip out on them in case you’ve seen them before.

At this point, some of you may be asking, “how does it play?” while those of you who have played P of P or a similar game already know the answer. The majority of your time will be spent maneuvering past obstacles, jumping up and down to grab ledges, and avoiding certain death by falling or otherwise. The otherwise in this game proves to be quite interesting. Since this is the future, or a futuristic simulacrum, there perilous traps such as laser turrets and trap doors that can be activated by switches and pressure plates. Plus, you have your standard heights to fall from (you cannot survive a fall of two stories or more), but you also have landmines, live wires, and a little thing on the floor that lets out a column of green bubbles. I can only guess that the latter is a disintegrator. That little joy nugget will treat you to one of the aforementioned death cutscenes should you decide to pass over it.

Sure, this brand of danger is fun, but in some points in the game, you will be required to complete a scene in a short amount of time, or face destruction. The genre of the game, however, dictates that only one section of the screen will be seen at a time, which means that once you reach the edge of the screen, the game will load the next scene, leaving you in a sticky situation if you are running and are not familiar with the area immediately in front of you. I have died countless times due to the fact that I was attempting to run from one scene to another, only to discover all too late that the floor opens up to a pit, or worse, a few feet in front of me.

Aside from pit-jumping, Conrad comes prepared to do any amount of acrobatics and gymnastics to figure out who the hell he is and what he’ll be doing for the final portion of the game. Most of what he can do is a collection of jumps and the like, but the more impressive and useful moves are presented when utilizing the gun. You can roll in the game, and rolling with the gun will allow you to overtake anxious enemies and shoot them before they can figure out where you went. Stepping off of a cliff (a one-story fall, mind you) with the gun drawn will bring you into an immediate crouching position, making it much easier to shoot people while avoiding their bullets. Those are both damn important for getting through the trickier combat scenarios, but the most useful trick of all comes when you are pulling yourself up a ledge. If you draw the gun while pulling yourself up, you’ll quickly stand up with the gun drawn so that awaiting enemies will not catch you entirely flatfooted.

With all that, you’d think that there would be no reason for you to fear your enemies, right? Wrong. The bad guys come in a variety of forms, from a small robot with a cattle prod, to a shape-shifting creature known as a “morph.” The earlier bad guys will only take one shot before they die, but the later ones will take quite a pounding before they’re out of your way. With the exception of the cattle prod robot and a few others, all the enemies rely on guns hurt, plus a short range attack when they get close enough. Your rolls can put you at in disadvantage in this way, as you may find yourself crouched just as the enemy walks right up and pistol-whips you.

Though you’d think there would be at least one boss, there is not. I suppose that makes the game seem a little realistic, but come on. The producers have thrown in aliens, lasers, and foreign planets. Did they think that adding a tough boss would be the straw that broke the camel’s back?

No matter. In lieu of running songs through each level, you are treated to short, staccato bursts of song when you cross certain points on the ground, or trigger an event in a similar fashion. The best way to describe these snippets of music is to say that they are mood-setting; they range from an ominous tune to a fast-paced fight song for the middle of a firefight.

The sound effects are mediocre at best. If you like the sounds of guns, you’ll like the effects a lot. Unfortunately, many of the sound effects are grainy and in the end wind up sound like gunshots, no matter what they are.

Regardless, in the big picture, sound is relatively unimportant compared to gameplay, and this game has plenty of it. My only complaint is that though the levels are fairly large, the game is still short. Oh well, short and sweet, I suppose.

Best Cheats: None

Game Play: 9
Graphics: 8
Music/Sound: 7
Originality: 6
Overall Rating: 9

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