Flashback Mobile Isn’t New School Or Old School – It’s Classic
You know that feeling you get when you play a remastered classic such as an early Zelda game or PAC-Man? It’s like time travel. You can feel your cheeks fill with baby fat experiencing childish awe whenever a transition screen darkens the TV. For many old-school gamers, Flashback Mobile is a time machine.
An award-winning action-adventure game, developed by Paul Cuisset in 1992, Flashback holds a Guinness record and is one of the first games to use rotoscope technology for realistic animations. In it, you travel the universe in the year 2142 with amnesia stricken protagonist Conrad while he dives headlong into an insidious alien plot.
This game will no doubt prove a time capsule of memories for some and nothing can ruin that. However, for those of you who have never played the original, Flashback Mobile offers a somewhat different experience.
The first thing you’ll notice about Flashback Mobile is the controls. You haven’t experienced frustration until you’ve played with this game’s touch controls. A slide to the right makes Conrad go right. A diagonal line makes him jump. This is great in theory, but in practice… there was a moment there where I seriously considered smashing my phone into my wall. Running is uncontrollable. Sometimes Conrad runs when you want him to walk. Other times you need him to take a running leap so he can safely land on the other side of a bottomless pit, and instead, he ambles calmly to his death without even attempting to save himself.
Sure you have the option to use the classic controls instead, but they have their own special flaws. Every button on the screen causes a delayed reaction from Conrad. He’s getting shot at by caveman mutants, but don’t worry, he’ll draw his pistol sooner or later.
Let’s just say, thank god for the new rewind function. Flashback Mobile’s wretched touch controls killed Conrad more times then I did and without being able to rewind back to life, he would definitely be embedded in my wall.
A Painting in Virtual Reality
This game is wonderful to look at. Every level is unique and colorful. It’s no surprise since the background for this classic was completely hand-drawn. Though antiquated by today’s standards, there is something so exceptional about it. Level four, for example, is set in a 1920’s style cityscape. Everything feels vintage with old brick tenement buildings and taxi cabs all drawn in this very abstract style.
Then there’s Conrad himself. He looks like one of those renaissance paintings where the people are kind of fuzzy around the edges and don’t have clear faces. And for such an ancient title, the animations are amazing! Characters dive for the floor when bad guys shoot around them. Conrad’s jacket billows behind him as he runs. He even waves his arms around when he’s too close to the edge and needs to right himself. Little touches like that went a long way to making me forgive the wonky controls.
Gameplay could be described as Flashback’s middle ground. It wasn’t horrible by any measure, but there is nothing mind-blowing about it. The game’s baddies are diverse and challenging, and each level had a puzzle aspect to it that made them worthwhile.
However, sometimes the controls would wreck a battle or the game would throw in a random curveball solution for one of the puzzles that unless you get cozy with a walkthrough there was no way of moving forward.
Then there are the elevators. They are everywhere! Sometimes there are three separate moving platforms lined up next to each other just to get you to the next part of the game. It’s idiotic! There are only so many times one can watch platform animations before one starts to find joy at Conrad’s rag doll splat when he “accidentally” falls down the elevator shaft. Also, for some baffling reason, they’re camouflaged. I’d rather not say the number of times I was stuck while standing right next to an elevator.
Nonetheless, despite all of its frustrating gameplay, I couldn’t help but grow fond of the blasted game. I suppose there’s a reason it’s a classic. I think the struggles I went through gave the ending some extra sweetness. That, or I have Stockholm syndrome.
Is it Hardcore?
Yeah… Pretty much, we guess.
While it is often an exercise in touch screen frustration, Flashback Mobile is also a beautiful, classic adventure (with too many elevators).