Flashback to the Past
A while ago someone asked us if Another World had been a direct influence for the art style of Röki. 'Not consciously' was my reply, which in retrospect sounds pretty dismissive. In reality though, it was true. We hadn't talked about Another World, or even looked at it when designing Röki, so I genuinely didn't think it was a direct reference. The question got me thinking afterwards though, not about Another World, but another Delphine game of a similar ilk; Flashback. It just so happens that Flashback is one of my favourite games ever, not because I've played it over and over again, but because it made a huge impression on me, like some games have the power to do from time to time.
Let's rewind a little bit and I'll set the scene. It's the early 90s, I'm on the brink of becoming an awkward teenager and the internet hasn't become a thing yet. Basically it's a while ago. So anyway, one day my older brother comes home with a game he's bought for my Mega Drive. I look at the box cover and a pair of despairing eye look back at me. 'Flashback' is the game's title. I'd not heard of it. However, someone, either in some marketing ploy, or just genuine good taste had stuck a sticker with five white stars on the side of the box. Not 3 or 4, but 5. FIVE! 'Wow' I thought, 'This must be a big deal, you don't get five stars for nothing'.
Man, were those 5 stars right. I was blown away. Firstly by the animation, which I would later learn was rotoscoped (a technique where animators trace over motion picture footage, frame by frame, to achieve highly realistic action). I'd never seen anything like it. The way Conrad (the protagonist) ran and rolled and leaped and fired his gun, all seamlessly linking to one another, was a touch of the sublime to my young eyes. Particularly his big jump. Boy could Conrad leap through the air. He was like an Olympic long jumper! The anims all still hold up well today, look:
Plus, it looked great as well. The scenes had a real sense of depth, despite only being 2d, and all of the environments were varied and suitably creepy.
Then there was the plot; a guy crash lands into a jungle on a distant planet (Titan, which is technically a moon, but give me a break, I was 12), then he has to rescue his buddy Ian. Yep, Conrad's friend is called Ian. I still can't quite believe it, but it's true:
Conrad then encounters some weird shape shifting aliens, plays in a game show called DEATH TOWER and then goes to the Alien's home planet to stop them taking over Earth. The end sequence is the bit that sticks in my brain the most. After fighting a big pink brain, and laying down some explosives, you have to flee before the bomb detonates, which involves sprinting full speed back through the map and doing multiple big jumps under pressure. Now this was something you had to time just right, so time pressure is not the friend of a safe big jump. Subsequently, the impending detonation made this bit IN-TENSE. I loved it so much. One of the most satisfying endings to a game ever, for me at least. So much so, that it's stayed with me ever since. Not just the end, but the whole experience; art, gameplay, plot, animation - all of it. Here, check it out for yourselves:
'What's your point?' you might be thinking. Well, I guess my point is that I was wrong when I said Another World wasn't a reference point for Röki, because indirectly it was through it's predecessor. We may not have directly looked up either game when designing Röki, but I didn't need to. They were there, entangled deep down in my brain, gently informing my decisions on how things should look and feel, because back in the 90s Flashback showed me that computer games can be something truly amazing, something beautiful, that can stay with you forever.
Until next time,
Tom & Alex