Flashback (1992 video game)

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Flashback (also titled Flashback: The Quest For Identity in America) is a platform/adventure game released in 1992 on the Amiga, and later ported to the Mega Drive/Genesis and SNES in 1993. It pays homage to many classic Science Fiction films like Total Recall, Blade Runner and They Live!.

You play as Conrad Hart, a government agent. Using molecular-density scanning glasses, he discovers alien impostors among the population, known as Morphs. Attempts are made on his life, and he creates a log of his memories as a backup. Kidnapped, his memory wiped, he escapes his inattentive captors on hoverbike and is shot down over the jungles of Titan. Left for dead, he finds a holocube log of himself that instructs him to go to his contact in the city of New Washington and retrieve his memory. He must make his way back to Earth, find the Morph base of operations, and stop their plans to conquer the galaxy.

Gameplay is similar to Prince of Persia, but with a gun. You get a personal force field generator in the second level that lets you block shots- this, along with rolling, is the key to winning battles. The levels can get quite long, although checkpoints (misleadingly called Save Points) are scattered throughout.

Made by the same company that created Another World, Flashback used a similar method to create polygonal cutscenes and rotoscoped animation that could be played on an Amiga, Genesis or SNES. It billed itself as "the CD-ROM game on a cartridge/floppy", and was stuffed with cinematics, most notably when you pick up items. Later, it was ported to the CD based consoles of the era, with a replacement soundtrack and CGI cutscenes.

A sequel, Fade to Black, was made in 1996.

Flashback (1992 video game) is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in Flashback (1992 video game) include:
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The end of the fourth level.
  • Air Vent Passageway: Conrad overhears the aliens' plot from a ceiling grate... which promptly collapses under his weight. To the dungeon with you!
  • Alien Animals
  • Alien Invasion: The Morphs are hunting for new real estate.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The aliens converse in perfect English, even in private.
  • All There in the Manual: A comic outlining the backstory was included with the manual.
  • Artificial Human: Flashgun.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Conrad's second mission in New Wasington is to track down a Death Tower android which has gone berserk and escaped.
  • Badass Longcoat: The cops.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Conrad has saved the galaxy, and destroyed the Morph homeworld, but he is stranded in unknown space, with no way back to Earth. He enters cryogenic sleep, prepared to drift in space a lone for a long time...
  • Bottomless Magazines: Conrad never runs out of ammunition, which is fortunate. His blaster apparently does not fire bullets, yet it still spits out shells.
  • Bowdlerise: "Death Tower" becomes "Cyber Tower" in the SNES version.
  • Brain In a Jar: The Auxiliary Brain and Master Brain.
  • Broke Episode: The second level has you doing odd jobs for cash.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Conrad's prize for surviving the Death Tower game show: a first-class ticket to Earth.
  • Cinematic Platform Game
  • Collapsing Lair: Level 7, after planting a bomb to destroy the alien homeworld.
  • Cool Shades: The cops wear Terminator-like sunglasses in the Amiga/Genesis versions.
  • Deadly Game: Death Tower.
  • Death Course
  • Disintegrator Ray: Flashback's most irritating obstacle a.k.a. "The Green Death". Conrad will get reduced to a skeleton if he so much as brushes against one. They also make an annoying buzzing noise.
  • Dramatic Chase Opening: The beginning starts with a cinematic chase focusing on Conrad and his pursuers' feet, followed by a first person flying car chase.
  • Easily-Thwarted Alien Invasion: The Morphs have a giant passageway leading directly to the planet's core. Dropping a palm-sized nuke into the hole destroys the planet.
  • Escort Mission: There's one in the second level. The VIP is one ungrateful bastard.
  • Exact Eavesdropping
  • Exposition Beam: Ian's chair restores Conrad's memories with a laser directed at his forehead.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel
  • Flash Step: The Flashmen's main mode of attack.
  • Flying Car
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Galactic Bureau of Investigation.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The aliens erase Conrad's memory upon his capture, instead of killing him outright. He might have been more useful to them alive, but this is never explained. Later, Conrad is imprisoned yet again. When the jailer opens the cell door, there's nothing preventing you from simply dashing out of the cell and reclaiming your gun, which is conveniently lying on the floor.
  • Guide Dang It:
    • There's a jump at the beginning of the second level that requires a maneuver you won't use often. The obscure move was deliberately included as a form of copy protection. Unless you had the manual, you were unlikely to progress past the second screen of level 2.
    • Also, there's the door in the sixth level that requires you to shoot it open, the only door of its kind. Nowhere in the game at all does it suggest to shoot any door, though the comic book in the game's instruction manual showed Conrad doing just this in that exact area.
  • He Knows Too Much
  • Humanoid Aliens: The mutants.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: The human survivor Conrad meets on planet Moph dies almost immediately, but at least he's nice enough to hand over all the info you need to blow up the planet before he croaks.
  • In Medias Res: Somewhat subverted. The plot should be no secret to anyone who bought the game legitimately, and you learn the truth behind Conrad's mission in the second stage, anyway.
  • It Got Worse: The sequel: the Morphs are still around, have successfully conquered the Sol system while Conrad was asleep, and when he finally wakes up, he's in enemy hands.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: Level 3, which is set in a tower.
  • Jet Pack: The cops.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Played straight, and then literally flipped right around when Conrad's memory is reimplanted by... lasers.
  • Laser Sight: Appears ominously on Conrad's back in a Flash Back sequence, right before he's tranquilized and tossed into a car.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: The Paradise Club (an Earth-based strip joint) is a front for the Morphs.
  • Let's Play: By Yahtzee.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle
  • The Many Deaths of You
  • Marathon Level: New Washington is particularly obnoxious with its sheer size, tedious subway travel, and a surprise Timed Mission.
  • Meat Moss: Planet Morph (though it looks more like bubble gum).
  • Multi Platform: Oh, so very much; Flashback is one of the most widely available non-puzzle games in existence, being published on the Amiga, several PC models, the Macintosh, Sega Genesis, Super NES, SegaCD, Atari Jaguar, Philips CD-i, 3DO and now the iPhone.
    • Interestingly, the SNES port was released a year after the Genesis version, yet each of the cutscenes have different music.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: Conrad B. Hart.
  • New Neo City: New Washington.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While on planet Morph, Conrad finds another human survivor. Unfortunately, you can't reach him without triggering a motion sensor, which leaves the stranger wide open to getting shot by an alien lying in wait.
  • No Body Left Behind:
    • Flashmen (quite rightly) explode once defeated.
    • Fallen cops, on the other hand, vanish into a purple flash of light. It could be that they carry teleportation devices to warp them out of danger -- or maybe the dev team just didn't want dead cops' bodies littered around.
    • The Morphs revert to a plume of blue smoke and disappear. Which is a pretty unique way to expire.
    • The mutants' corpses are persistent, however.
  • No Hero Discount: An old hillbilly who lives next to a giant chasm on Titan won't fork over his Anti-Grav belt for less than 500 credits. New Washington is even worse, with a 1500 credit requirement for advancing to the next stage.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Conrad wears a brown leather jacket, jeans and Nikes.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The cartridge versions have no music, only brief leitmotifs.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Replaces the standard gun attack when an enemy stands too close to Conrad. Can also be used to smash out windows... too bad there's only one breakable window in the game.
  • Pixel Hunt:
    • A lot of the items on the ground are hard to see. Some of them blink, others... don't.
    • Lifts can also be hard to see. Like the one at the very end of the game that you need to take to the spaceship to escape the Morph homeworld. This very lift even became a Guide Dang It for some.
  • Police Are Useless: Extortion, corruption and indiscriminate shooting are all part of a day's work.
  • Post Cyber Punk
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Conrad wears a magenta shirt that mysteriously turns white for cutscenes. Except in the Genesis and original Amiga versions, where it's white all along.
  • Recycled in Space: It's They Live... in SPACE!
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Morphs are blue-skinned lizards in red pajamas.
  • Scenery Porn: The Death Tower and the Morphs Planet levels.
  • See-Thru Specs: Conrad's transparent green eyepatch doohickey, used to spot aliens who are hiding in human guise. Features prominently in cutscenes as well as the box art, yet you never actually get to use it.
  • Sentry Gun: They can't be destroyed, but a few have adjacent switches that turn them off. The firing rate is also slow enough that Conrad can duck, roll or jump over the shots.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: Morphs LOVE to pop up under you and attack.
  • Shout-Out: The final image of the game is Conrad entering a sleep-stasis, and the camera panning outward from the window of his ship. Sound familiar?
  • Spirit Advisor: During the final sequence of the game, an "inner voice" (implied to be the survivor from earlier) guides Conrad in planting an atomic bomb in the planet's core.
  • Stationary Boss: The Auxiliary Brain and Master Brain.
  • The Taxi: Conrad's first task upon returning to Earth is to hail a hover-cab.
  • Teleporters and Transporters:
    • An important tool to master, especially in the last leg of the game. The Telereciever acts as a portable beacon: Conrad can lob it over great distances, then activate the Telecontrol, which beams him directly to the beacon's location. Nifty.
    • Other teleporters exist in the game, such as the one in New Washington's Job Center. This is also the mode of travel by which Conrad journeys to the Morph homeworld.
  • Terraform: Titan (Saturn's moon) has been transformed into a lush alien jungle, with a metropolitan city beneath its crust.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: "A SPY... Throw the wretch into the dungeons. We'll interrogate him later."
  • Used Future: New Washington is dank and grimy, full of rotating fans and endless basements. Earth is slightly cleaner, but still a dump.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Money comes in floppy discs, in denotations ranging from 50 bucks to 15 grand.
  • "What Now?" Ending: After defeating the Morphs and destroying their homeworld, Conrad escapes on a spaceship. Alone in an unknown part of space, he puts himself in cryogenic sleep, prepared to drift for a long time...
  • Wrap Around: Level 3. Justified because it's a cylindrical tower.
  • Wretched Hive: New Washington. Strikingly empty of actual people, but filled with mutants and volatile energy reactors.
  • Zeerust