Flashback, released as Flashback: The Quest for Identity in the US, is a cinematic platformer developed by Delphine Software of France, a now defunct company, and published by U.S. Gold in United States and Europe, and Sunsoft in Japan. The game was directed, written/designed and partially programmed by Paul Cuisset, who had previously created the adventure game Future Wars. It is listed in the Guinness World Records as the best-selling French game of all time.
Flashback was initially released for the Amiga in 1992, then ported to MS-DOS, Acorn Archimedes, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo in 1993. CD-ROM versions of Flashback for the Mega-CD, 3DO, CD-i, MS-DOS, Apple Macintosh and the FM Towns were released during 1994 and 1995, together with a cartridge version for the Atari Jaguar in 1995.
Originally advertised as a "CD-ROM game on a cartridge", the game features fully hand-drawn backdrops and all animation is rotoscoped, giving movements a fluidity unusual for the time, similar to that of the earlier Prince of Persia. The rotoscoping technique of Flashback was invented independently of Prince of Persia, and used a more complicated method of first tracing video images onto transparencies.
A two-track CD soundtrack was released featuring music inspired by the game, but not directly from it.
The game is set in the year 2142 and details the journey of Conrad B. Hart, an agent for the Galaxia Bureau of Investigation, and his attempts to recover his lost memory to save the world. During one of his investigations, Conrad discovers a plot to destroy the Earth involving aliens that disguise themselves as governmental officials. These shape-shifting aliens are discovered with his monoculars that measures molecular density. Conrad then uploads a copy of his memory to his friend Ian and records message for himself in a holocube as a precaution against it being erased. As he feared, the aliens do eventually kidnap Conrad and erase his memory. He escapes, but is left stranded in a jungle on Titan completely unaware of who he is. Conrad soon recovers his holocube and on activation sees himself giving instructions to travel to the New Washington, which is also on Titan, to meet with his old friend Ian who would be able to give him back his memory. He eventually meets a wounded stranger who asks him to find his teleporter. After finding and returning his teleporter, the man teleports away but leaves behind an ID card, which Conrad later uses. Soon, he buys an anti-G belt from another stranger in order to jump down a hole that leads to New Washington.
There, he finds Ian being attacked by a pair of corrupt cops. Conrad kills them, and Ian uses a regenerator in order to give Conrad back his memory. Conrad asks Ian what to do in order to return to Earth. Ian says that the ticket price is huge, and the only way would be to be a contestant on the game show Death Tower. Conrad asks if Ian can give him false papers, but Ian tells him that he needs to ask for Jack in the bar. When he gets there, Jack tells him that the cost is 1500 credits. Conrad gets enough credits by getting a work permit and then completing jobs. Jack then gives him the papers, and Conrad enters Death Tower.
Conrad wins the contest. When he returns to Earth, a gang of corrupt cops discover him and try to kill him. As he fends them off and proceeds, he ends up in Paradise Club, which is really the alien's hideout on Earth.
Conrad sees three aliens, all but one in disguise, talking about how they have given the humans the ability to produce their needed power, and how millions of their warriors were soon going to be teleported to Earth to destroy mankind. The vent that Conrad is standing on falls, and the undisguised alien has him thrown in the dungeons and his gun taken from him. Soon, a Death Tower terminator opens Conrad's cell and tries to kill him, but he runs off and finds his gun, which he uses to kill the terminator.
Eventually, Conrad finds a teleporter that leads him to the very distant planet Morphs, which is the home of the aliens. There, Conrad finds a human prisoner named Phillip Howard Clark. As Conrad attempts to free him, a Morph shoots Phillip because his door is opened, only to then be killed by Conrad. Just before Phillip dies, he gives Conrad his atomic charge. He eventually finds his diary, which gives him logic information.
Soon, Conrad enters the Master Brain area. Once at a certain spot, Conrad hears Phillip's voice tell him to put the atomic charge at the spot and then flee. Conrad does so as Morphs starts shaking and crumbling. He eventually escapes via a spacecraft and gets out of Morphs's atmosphere just as it explodes. The game then cuts to Conrad making a message in the spacecraft's journal.
Conrad is shown entering suspended animation as the last sentence of the message is shown.
By default, the DOS version has an extended introductory sequence and more minor cut scenes than the Amiga version, such as when picking up items. In the Amiga version, the user can see these scenes by enabling them (although with few seconds of delay every time the animations load) or by playing the game entirely from the hard drive. The Amiga version also had an option to zoom in on the action whenever Conrad opens fire. Due to criticism of the look, it was removed from all other versions. The message that Conrad writes in the ending was also different in this release. The game was originally released on 3.5" floppy disk for MS-DOS. Re-releases on CD-ROM for 3DO, CD-i, PC, and Sega CD featured redone pre-rendered cinematic FMVs with audible dialog and sound. The Sega CD port also has voice work for gameplay and CD tracks for each level. The Jaguar port has the title screen that these ports have, but the music is different and the look of the title screen is all that it has from the CD releases.
In North America, the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and Sega CD versions featured a Marvel Comics comic book within the manual in order to explain the initial story. The PAL Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo releases (there was no Mega-CD version) omitted the comic and instead featured a textual prologue.
The Super Nintendo port was also censored, with New Washington's bar becoming a cafe and Death Tower being renamed Cyber Tower.
Comparisons to Another World
Flashback was and still appears to be mistaken as a sequel to Eric Chahi's videogame Another World. (The game Heart of the Alien was released as Another World's sequel.) Although both games do share similarities, the storylines are completely different, and there is no major connection between two characters in Flashback. Flashback is mistaken as a sequel for the following reasons:
- Both games are published by Delphine.
- Another World also utilizes rotoscoped animation. Flashback's graphics are similar to Another World, but the gameplay backgrounds are digitized hand-done drawings, while the vectors are pre-rendered compared to Another World, which featured real-time polygons all over, though the 3DO port did have digitized hand-painted backgrounds.
- The gameplay of Flashback is based on Another World, but Flashback has step-based controls and also had a heads-up display while Another World didn't have any of these.
A sequel, named Fade to Black was produced by Delphine Software International in 1995 for the PC and PlayStation. A full polygonal 3D game, it resulted in more slow-paced gameplay and lack of platforming comparing with Flashback, generating mixed reviews from critics who felt that it was too different from the original concept of the series.[ ]
A third game in the series, Flashback Legends, was in development by both Delphine Software International and Adeline Software International for a planned released in 2003, but was cancelled when the company went bankrupt and ceased operations at the end of 2002.
REminiscence, a game engine recreation, was created by Gregory Montoir (cyx). The engine is available for Amiga OS4, Dreamcast, GP2X, iPhone, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Maemo, MorphOS, Nintendo DS, Wii, Palm OS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Sega Saturn and Windows CE.
- 'Flashback: The Quest for Identity' at MobyGames
- Flashback: The Quest for Identity Overview at Adventure Classic Gaming
- Retrospective review of all versions
- REminiscence homepage
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "The making of...Flashback". Edge (magazine) (Future Publishing): 104–107.
- ↑ Lost Flashback Soundtrack at Binary Bonsai
- ↑ Conrad: Ian, what do you have to do to get to Earth? Ian: The cost of the ticket is astronomical. The only way would be for you to take part in Death Tower. Conrad: Death Tower? Ian: Yes, it's a television game. The winner gets a ticket. Conrad: Okay. Can you supply false papers? Ian: No problemo. Go to the bar and ask for Jack. Say I sent you. Oh, by the way, I left the force field you asked me for in your pocket. Conrad: Great. Thank you, Ian. 'Till the next time... Ian: Good luck. I'll be in touch when you get to Earth.
- ↑ Jack: I'm Jack. You're after some false papers? Conrad: Yes, and as quickly as possible. Jack: 1500 credits! Conrad: 1500??? Jack: Yeah, I'm taking a big risk here. Conrad: But I don't have enough... Jack: Go to the employment office. You'll find work there. And come back to me when you've got the money.
- ↑ That's my story, just the way I lived it. The galaxy I am in today doesn't appear on any of our navigation charts. It's impossible for me to calculate my return trajectory. I'll probably drift in space for a very long time...
- ↑ Here is the story as far as I know. My current position is unknown. I can't find the galaxy I am in on any of my many star-maps. With no start point I cannot even calculate a return trajectory so I seem doomed to a life of aimless drifting...