We speak to Flashback’s co-writer, Simon Mackenzie, about the forthcoming Flashback remake.
Flashback was one of the most popular twitch platformers of the Nineties. Released in 1992, it wowed a whole generation a gamers through its mix of deep and engaging sci-fi plot, which borrowed elements from Blade Runner to The Running Man, and fluid rotoscope visuals which helped enhance its cinematic feel.
The game was followed up with the sequel Fade To Black in 1995, which expanded on hero Conrad Hart’s battle with the sinister alien Morphs and saw the series make a pretty comfortable leap to 3D.
But though it was well received, Fade To Black didn’t enjoy the same level of acclaim as its predecessor, and it is perhaps for this reason why Ubisoft and VictorCell, a studio headed by Flashback creator Paul Cuisset and comprising many members of the original FB team, announced last month they are joining forces on a HD remake of the original.
We caught up Simon Mackenzie, Flashback’s co-writer, to find out what the remake will offer over the original and what it’s been like reuniting with team members and the franchise at the same time.
Why are you remaking Flashback as opposed to making a sequel?
Technology has advanced so much, that we’re now able to make the game as the team originally saw it in their heads back in the day. We also wanted to tell more stories in this universe and to do this we needed to introduce a whole new generation to Flashback and bring it up to speed for modern audiences. Indeed, a lot of people have heard of Flashback but the youngest might not have had the chance to play it in 1992. It’s a way for them to discover a piece of video game History but with today’s standards. For the original players, they can now rediscover a re-imagined version of the game they loved.
How long have you been working on the project for?
The ball started rolling roughly two years ago. We had so many fans asking us to make a remake, but we also wanted to wait for the right time to be able to gather all the original core team.
What’s it like re-working with a lot of the original team?
Amazing! Flashback had always been special to all of us; there was a real camaraderie on the project. Everyone was pretty excited to rework on Flashback, to find ways to improve it. It’s very rare in this industry to be able to give a second youth to a game so long after.
What improvements will it offer over the original game?
Our first objective was to remain faithful to the spirit of the original game, but to also take full advantage of the computing power of today’s machines. Quite a few points were considered to bring the game up to standards. The first was obviously in the graphics department. We also gave a facelift to the gameplay by making it more reactive and dynamic, the reactivity and instinctive control of Conrad being two points that we really take to heart. We also integrated an experience progression system for the character and his equipment, with upgrades that can be found throughout the various levels. Accessibility was brought up to current standards as was the Level Design that would seem rather punishing through today’s lenses if we had kept it exactly as it was. All in all, though, we’re extremely happy with the result. We feel we were able to keep Flashback’s soul and put it into a new body. We also have some new weapons & gadgets that will let you approach a same situation differently.
Flashback will be released digitally this summer across PC, PSN and Xbox Live Arcade.