Flashback Origins (seems to be a working title) is on the horizon. Currently developed under Ubisoft (since when did Ubisoft became cool anyway?) and possibly worked on by its original creator Paul Cuissette (can someone confirm that?) got announced as “reimagination”. Rather “remake” than “reimagination” if you take a closer look at the backgrounds from the first official trailer.
The franchise buried itself with the failed sequel Fade to Black (1995) and the never released but leaked second sequel Flashback: Legends (2003) for the GBA. While the original was intelligent platforming, F2B’s focus lied on third-person action but failed because of bad execution of its great concept while products like Tomb Raider did everything right. During development of Legends, Delphin Software went bankrupt. Legends development got aborted but an unfinished pre-alpha version leaked – full Flashback Legends review here.
But still, the original was a magnificent game which short after release got re-released so many times on so many platforms, edited by so many different people but still kept its atmosphere, intensity and core essence alive. But what does this “reimagination” (I hate this word) mean for the franchise? Before I give bare answers to that question, let’s take a look back:
Conrad Hart is a scientist that developed a device that could scan the molecular mass of life forms. During tests with the device, he found creatures with extreme high molecular mass among people that hijacked earth’s population in the year 2142. These creatures weren’t human. As his girlfriend got missing, he realized he had to do something and decided to secure his knowledge into a holo-cube. Short after he gets kidnapped, his memory erased, but he manages to escape barely. He awakes on the planet Titan – one of earths outer planetary colonies. Without memory and only armed with a pistol, he must seek his memories and uncover the truth about the invasive human-like creatures.
If you feel like being remembered on 80s sci-fi action movies like Total Recall, Running Man or They Live, then this is absolutely indented. The game is an action focused jump-n-run adventure and obviously homage to even this kind of movies and does never feel unrealistic during play. Rotoscoped animations give Conrad’s movements a somewhat realistic feel and makes jumping, climbing and even shooting a fluid experience. Button presses roll out very smoothly and get executed pretty flawless.
Initially developed for Amiga only, but later due highly critical and commercial success ported over to any other available hardware at the time, did Flashback undergo many strange changes. Changes included partially alternative initial story, for example making the scientist Conrad an agent for a galactic FBI (maybe to explain why he’s wearing a gun?).
Re-Releases on CD-ROM powered platforms like Sega-CD, 3DO or PC, featured new cinematic FMV’s and even music. The worst changes received Flashback’s SNES release in which a spacebar got renamed café. And the Death-Tower TV-Show became known as the (not so deadly?) Cyber Tower with Nintendo’s content guidelines. But despite all this changes, the main atmosphere and core of the game survived untouched and is a pleasure to play, even today.
The future of the franchise?
So, and what does it now mean for the franchise? My wish: The “reboot” could be a “rebirth” of Flashback. It could be followed by a remake of Fade to Black and result in the final release of the never finished Flashback: Legends. I cross my fingers in that regard!
From The Quest for Identity to Legends