RIP Ralph Baer
I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...
Flashing into view, it's a flashback of Flashback soon to be back in a flash!
When I stepped into the space for Ubisoft's Digital Day, I remember peering to my right and seeing the word "Flashback" emblazoned on a white, rectangular podium. I immediately wanted to "Stop all of the presses!" Wait, s this what I think it... no... a remake for Flashback?! The SNES child within me went ballistic.
For those of you who haven't played Flashback (or have no idea what a SNES is... gosh, that makes me feel ancient), it was an innovative sci-fi 2D platformer with an interesting futuristic story developed by Delphine Software International and principally designed by Paul Cuisset. In fact, for this Flashback remake he has been passionately reinstated as the lead designer. No one else can do it better, right?
Paul Cuisset and his small team of fifteen developers have been tasked with modernizing his signature title, which is still to this day one of the best-selling titles from France. No wonder that Ubisoft has graciously accepted being the publisher. Much of the story has been kept the same, with minor additions and tweaks to a few characters so that they have better dialogue and personalities. I won't spoil the story, though many old-school gamers already know what happens, but it's worth going through the events once more with the much improved graphics and cutscenes. So far, the developers have already remastered the title to the level of the 3D side-scrolling XBLA title Shadow Complex.
But unlike many HD remakes, the improvements go beyond the standard graphical update. While Conrad solves puzzles, climbs ledges, and moves platforms to and fro, he'll need to eliminate robots and aliens with lethal force. In the original game, Conrad could only shoot left or right, but in this remake he can shoot in a full 360-degree range using the right analog stick and he can do so even if he's hanging on a ledge.
Along with a health bar that regenerates a bit when his health is extremely low, he'll earn experience points and level up, giving him the chance to distribute three points in Accuracy, Technical, or Stamina. These improve his overall gun handling and health recovery. Once Conrad locates his scanning molecular glasses, he can easily find hidden collectibles and disposable items like red fruit grenades. Much of his equipment can also be upgraded further for better efficiency and more abilities. You won't see any screenshots of the updated HUD since they're still working on it, but it looked like it came straight from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Flashback doesn't have a precise release date or price point, but it's been slated for "coming soon" on both Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.