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Alive 10

              An Abandonware Port for Falcon 060 and others

Flashback  was  one  of  those  legendary  'never  were'  games,  which  were
speculated  as made and ready to go for the ST,  but were never released  for
it.  This  all took place back when the ST was very much in the autumn of its
commercial life, in 1992.

It  was the follow-up to 'Another World',  which was released on the ST by  a
combination of Delphine software and US Gold. Interesting that, even the most
mediocre  labels were able to score the occasional hit by buying  in  outside
talent.  So  a rare word of praise for US Gold,  although Delphine should get
the credit for the actual code.

Patience has its own reward,  as previously commercial games end their shelf-
life and become abandonware. In that state they are ripe to be picked up once
more.  Flashback  has  been  given  new  life  with  the  appearance  of  the
'REminiscence'  SDL  based game engine.  This started life on the PeeCee  and
other  formats.  It consists of a mixture of the PC DOS version of the  game,
and apparently,  the Amiga sound files.  We've been allowed into the picture,
as it has now been ported to any Atari capable of running SDL based stuff, by
the Mint-fresh Polski, Adam Klobukowski. Cheers Adam!

He's kindly provided the game engine,  and checking his web pages also reveal
he's  given  the  SDL reanimation treatment  to  the  Flashback  predecessor,
'Another  World'.  However,  Evil  of DHS has taken the logical final step of
digging  up  the data files,  and putting it all together in one easy to  use
package. So well done everybody!

This  abandonware  port needs a bit more than an ST,  unfortunately,  in fact
quite  a bit more than an ST.  This has been quoted as needing at least a  TT
class  machine.  In  practice,  it  does run well enough with the  50mhz  CT2
Falcon,  but  you really do need an '040 or '060 to get the best out of  this
one. With a CT60, it is totally fluid and smooth of course ;-)

The basic storyline of Flashback goes something like this.  Conrad Hart,  the
player  character,  overhears  the  plans of an alien race,  the  Morphs,  to
conquer  Earth.  The  prequel is told in a smart vector  animation  sequence.
Conrad  attempts  to  flee the pursuing morphs on  his  silver  dream  flying
machine,  until  this  is  fatally riddled with gunfire.  The Morphs,  always
careless,  leave  Conrad  to his own devices after a cursory search.  He then
wakes up and the game starts. This sequence, and the other cinematic cut-away
sequences  still  looks whip-smart and great even today,  when the eye  candy
expectation  bar  has  been raised by mega amounts of  real  3D  and  massive
processing on textures and the like for current games.

                          It's behind you Conrad!

A menu selector gives way to a fairly conventional looking game screen. It is
a side-on view,  two dimensional.  If you were pushed to describe it further,
you  could  say it was Miner Willy in appearance.  However,  the artistry and
overall  graphical  quality is several light years removed  from  the  Speccy
garishness of the earlier game.

The  graphics  are some of the best things about this game,  with  smart  and
beautifully  drawn backgrounds,  backed up with some of the most detailed and
fluid sprite movements for your ingame character. Imagine 'Prince of Persia',
but on a far more ambitious canvas. You have a combination of moves, running,
jumping,  crouching, gunplay, and even grabbing and climbing. A large part of
the  fun is in figuring out the full range of Conrad's abilities.  Also,  you
can combine many of these.  The adventure part of this arcade adventure kicks
in, when you have objects to pick up and figure out their best use.

                 In the jungle, no-one can hear you scream!

The  action  does not take place over one world.  The game starts in  a  lush
jungle,  but there are several other game worlds, differently themed, and all
part of a larger puzzle to be solved.

One  small absence in this otherwise pristine port,  is a total silence.  The
sound  is still yet to be enabled,  but there should be another version  with
this reinstated, coming our way shortly.

I've  spent  a little bit of time looking up some internet resources,  and  I
found a site with some cheat codes in. I'm going to put these in here, but it
is debatable if they work, as I haven't had any luck so far.

Level  Passwords - Here are all of the passwords for Flashback on  all  three
levels. At the title screen, highlight the Password option. Press START to go
into it. Enter the following passwords to reach higher levels:

1 PIXEL     Level 1 - Jungle Stage
2 BESTY     Level 2 - New Washington
3 PANCHO    Level 3 - Death Tower
4 STUDIO    Level 4 - Earth Stage 1
5 TOHO      Level 5 - Earth Stage #2
6 AKANE     Level 6 - Alien Planet #1
7 INCBIN    Level 7 - Alien Planet #2

8 FALCON    Level 1 - Jungle Stage
9 DATA      Level 2 - New Washington
10 MILORD   Level 3 - Death Tower
11 QUICKY   Level 4 - Earth Stage #1
12 BIJOU    Level 5 - Earth Stage #2
13 BUBBLE   Level 6 - Alien Planet #1
14 CLIP     Level 7 - Alien Planet #2

15 CLIO     Level 1 - Jungle Stage
16 ACRTC    Level 2 - New Washington
17 BLOB     Level 3 - Death Tower
18 STUN     Level 4 - Earth Stage #1
19 MIMOLO   Level 5 - Earth Stage #2
20 HECTOR   Level 6 - Alien Planet #1
21 KALIMA   Level 7 - Alien Planet #2

See the ending sequence without playing the rest of the game
22 CYGNUS     Ending Password

In  conclusion,  well we've waited years for this,  was it worth the wait you
ask? Well yes of course it was!

Famous 'lost' game reappears at last.
Seems to be generic, run across a wide range of hardware.
A welcome return for the idea of 'big' action games.
Great presentation.
Fantastically detailed player animation.
Not really dated at all.

It needs a higher end machine to run decently.
No sound (just yet.)

CiH, for Alive Mag,April '05.

Alive 10