Atari Jaguar

from AEO magazine, Volume 4, Issue 7

 |||   Flashback
 |||   Review by: John Hardie
/ | \  GEnie: EXPLORER.3

In Flashback, you assume the role of Conrad, just awakening on the
planet Titan with no memory of who you are or why you are here. Armed
with only your gun and your shield, you set out to re-discover your
identity and explain your current situation. You must travel through
seven different stages in a race to regain your memory and save the
planet Earth from alien invaders.

Flashback is a great platform/RPG type of game; very similar to Prince
of Persia. There doesn't seem to be any variables in the gameplay; it
is very straight-forward, requiring you to complete one task before
going to the next. The odds of you getting stuck somewhere because you
didn't accomplish some previous task are slim to none. The seven
stages you travel through are fairly large so don't worry about
finishing this game in a day. Below is a brief summary of each stage:

Stage 1 - You awaken on the Planet Titan with no memory of past
events. You find a holocube, which gives you instructions what to do.

Stage 2 - You find your friend Ian, who restores your memory. He sends
you to his friend Jake to get papers to enter the Death Tower show and
win a ticket to Earth. You must get a work permit and complete odd
jobs to earn the 1500 credits that Jake wants for the papers.

Stage 3 - The Death Tower TV Game Show. Survive and win a ticket to

Stage 4 - You arrive on Earth and the aliens quickly discover you and
try to kill you. You escape their grip and find the alien

Stage 5 - The base of Paradise. You discover the alien plans to dominate
the human race but are captured by the aliens in the process.

Stages 6 & 7 - You end up on the Planet of Morphs. You search for info
to destroy the planet by setting an atomic charge.

Along your journey, there are many objects you can acquire and
interact with. Objects you can pick up are:

[] Holocube - Gives you info to start you on your journey.
[] Force Field - Stops enemy bullets. Time it right because it only
   lasts a second.
[] Stone - Useful for activating cameras and pressure pads.
[] Credits - Form of money needed at certain points in the game.
[] Magnetic Cartridge - Creates an energy source when charged at an
   energy generator.
[] Mechanical Mouse - Can be picked up. Useful for setting off traps,
   pressure pads, cameras.
[] Exploding Mouse - Explodes on contact. Can be picked up when it's
   not moving.
[] I.D. Card - Necessary for access and identification.
[] Key - Used to open key lock.
[] Teleport Receiver - Can be thrown and re-used. The receiver marks
   the spot you will appear when you activate the Teleport Control.
[] Teleport Control - Beams you to the Teleport Receiver.

Other objects you encounter can be interacted with. These include:

[] Teleport - Teleports you to specific place.
[] Energy Generator - Used to recharge your shild or magnetic cartridge.
[] Switch - Opens a door or calls an elevator.
[] Camera - Same as a switch. Can also trigger a laser cannon.
[] Pressure Pad - Same as a switch, Can also set off an alarm.
[] Card Lock - Can only be opened with card.
[] Key Lock - Can only be opened with key.
[] Save Marker - Used as a save point during a level so you don't
   have to start the level from scratch.
[] Disintegrator - Lose a life if you cross it.
[] Electrified Floor - Run and Jump over it.

There are an abundance of enemies and hazards you will come across as
you make your way through the game. As well as numerous enemies that
shoot, morph, and de/re-materialize, there are some hazards that
can't be destroyed and must be avoided:

[] Land Mine - Jump over to avoid.
[] Falling Mine - Passing under it causes it to fall.
[] Laser Cannon - Activated by a pressure pad or camera.

Conrad can perform more than a dozen different moves including
jumping, running, climbing up and down, somersaults, and shooting his
gun. The controls can be tricky at first and the moves take a little
time to master so it's best to spend a little time practicing. My
suggestion is to use the first level as a training ground; testing the
limits of your jumps, and trying out all the somersaults and shooting
manuevers. Once you have the controls down, you'll be able to move
around pretty rapidly. Don't run into unknown regions too fast though,
because a fall of more than two floors means certain death. It's safer
to hang off a ledge, rather than walking or jumping off it, when going
to a screen below. This allows you to scout out any trouble that might

When you first turn on the game, you are greeted with an animated
cinema sequence of events that show Conrad being chased and shot down
by an alien craft. Likewise, there are many of these cinematic
sequences throughout the game, linking events together and showing the
passing or collecting of objects. These scenes are nice and help the
story along but graphically they aren't up to par with what the Jaguar
can do. My guess is that the cinema sequences were ported over from
the 16-bit versions and not refined or enhanced at all. The in-game
graphics are well-drawn, detailed and crisp but seem a little lacking
in color.

The sound in this game is well above average. The music that
accompanies the opening animation is great and really puts you in the
mood to do some blasting. Unfortunately, once the game starts, there
is no music, except at certain points in the game when you are treated
to a short tune. The sound fx are accurate and do the job well, but
they're really nothing to get excited over.

After the opening animation, you are taken to the Main game screen.
From here you can select to start a game, enter a password, change
options, or run a demo of the game. The password screen lets you enter
a password up to six characters long which will take you to the
beginning of the level you are playing. Passwords are given out at the
start of every level so be sure to write them down (HINT - if you like
guessing at passwords, they don't have to be six characters long and
the obvious ones (USGOLD & JAGUAR) don't work). One of my big gripes
with the game is the fact that the passwords take you to the start of
a level and not the save point that you last saved the game at within
the level. The causes you to replay a level (which I mentioned earlier
are fairly large) to get back to where you were. Make sure you have
enough time set aside to complete a level when playing this game.

The options screen has five different options for you to select.
Difficulty settings can be set to Easy, Medium, and Hard. You can
select the game text to be in English or French. Selecting controls
will allow you to customize your joypad controls to anything you're
comfortable with, but it doesn't seem that they're saved to memory.
The option screen also has 2 sound test modes; TEST TUNE and TEST FX.
Naturally, the first will let you select any of the game music and
the second will let you listen to any of the game's sound fx.

Overall, the game is well worth the money to someone who has never
played it before. I imagine if you've already completed the 16-bit
version, you probably wouldn't find anything new to keep you
interested here. But for someone like myself who has no prior
experience with FLASHBACK, this game keeps me coming back for more.

Before I finish and give my ratings, I'd like to touch on a couple of
bugs I encountered while playing. Twice while playing, I lost all
sound (music and sfx). This happened both times while I was bypassing
the animations by pressing "PAUSE". The game completely froze once
although I don't remember what I did to make it happen. The last
problem I had involved some serious slowdown. Although the entire game
suffers at various points from slowdown when too much is going on, one
time the entire game kicked into slow-motion. Everything was crawling
along and I couldn't get it going again without turning the game off
and on. This problem with slowdown is outrageous on a machine like the
Jaguar; there's really no excuse for it. Anyway onto the ratings.

//// Final Ratings

        Title: Flashback                       JagNet: No
       Design: Delphine                       Players: 1
 Published by: US Gold                   Availability: Now
       Retail: $59.95                             Age: K-A

 A Summary of ratings:
        "*" is a whole
         "+" is a half
       5 stars maximum

 Graphics -  ***     Nice and fluid, but the limited color palette used
                     is a waste.
    Audio -  ***     Again, nice - but sparse.
  Control -  ****    Lots of things your character can do. Takes time
                     to master the controls though.
 Gameplay -  ****+   Long, involved adventure. Plenty of puzzles.
  Overall -  ***     A very unenthusiastic port of a two-year old game.
                     Thanks, but try harder next time.

Pts Stars  AEO Ratings
""" """""  """""""""""
 10 *****  GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good.
  9 ****+  Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent.
  8 ****   Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this.
  7 ***+   Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers.
  6 ***    Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time.
  5 **+    Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this.
  4 **     Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic.
  3 *+     Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun.
  2 *      Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this.
  1 +      Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you.
  0 -      Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.

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