Wednesday, May 18, 2011

VGR The Flash

Did you know there was a game about the Scarlet Speedster?

Nowadays, when you think about superheroes (or just comic book) video games, you mostly think about movie tie-ins and cartoon-related adaptations, right?
But back during the golden age of gaming, during the 8 and 16-bits era, comics-to-games were legion.
And also, they were often pretty good.
A lot of these came on the NES, Super Nintendo and Megadrive. American comics like the X-men, Spider-man, but also European comics such as the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Asterix, and also lots of Mangas from Dragon Ball to Astroboy, Mazinger, Tatsunoko productions, etc..

Today, let's check out one of those, a pretty obscure one, on one of my favorite videogame systems ever...

VGR: The Flash 
From Probe Entertainment/Sega
Played on Master System
Also available on /

Type Action sidescroller/beat 'em all-ysh/platformer-ysh
Year 1993

This game was developed by Probe.
Most retrogamers know them from lots of pretty good videogame adaptations on 8 and 16-bits consoles. Mostly on the Master System and Megadrive, though they've made some titles for Nintendo's systems as well.

The Flash was a sidescrollin' arcade-style game adaptation of the Flash based on both his short lived live TV series and the famous DC Comics character. Mostly the TV series, though the game came out a full 2 years after its cancellation, so it's kinda hard to call this one a "tie-in" adaptation.

"He's the Fastest Man Alive! The Faaastest Man Alive, the Faaaastest Man Aaaaaliiiive~"

What's the pitch?

The Trickster and The Trachmann have teamed up to take control of Central City!!
They've stolen five crystals while at it as well.
Then, Trickster has declared himself mayor of the city and put a price on the Flash's head!

Now it's up to Barry Allen, the Scarlet Speedster, to regain control of the city and defeat these villains...

The Scarlet Hurricane in action!...the what now??

That's a pretty straightforward story, but nobody was asking more from this game, it's simple and perfect for this lil' action sidescroller.

As The Flash, you're asked to go through 6 "episodes", each composed of 2 zones. The plot is recapped each new episode by Tina McGee, Flash's friend from Star Labs.

The gameplay is pretty simple as well.
The Flash can run, moves pretty fast and can attack.
One button to "vibrate" and another to jump. By combining those or playing with directions he can spin around like a hurricane to beat bad guys down or spin his arm super fast to break power-ups, obstacles or those same bad guys.
It's ridiculously easy and perfect to be able to play with these classic Flash trademark moves.

Now the game itself is quite something else.
The levels aren't 100% designed around Flash's speed so it's kinda tricky to move around smoothly and avoid traps, obstacles, enemies, etc..
The Trickster sure managed to trick the city with all that junk in your way.

Mark Hamill in a colorful car comes around...

For you see, Probe is well known for their game's difficulty and the Flash is probably amongst the hardest ones.

The city is litterally crawling under henchmen!

There's various objectives to do in the levels.
You can collect the usual power-ups, boost your "speed force" (which is drained while vibrating), lives, health, temporary effects...
The acts contain 2 similar objectives each time, you have to open the level's ending and reach it and escape under the time limit. Plus you can also collect all the gems the Trickster has stolen, found around the city.

Why under a time limit? Because the ingenious Trachmann has launched his dangerous robot FED, the  Flying Electronic Droid.
It's a nice original way to design the usual time limit of these arcade games into the gameplay itself. Don't spend too much time fooling around or you'll have FED on yours! And he can kill you in one hit only!

At the end of each episode you'll have a boss fight against the Trickster in his Trickstermobile.
Seeing the same boss the whole game is kinda...unusual.. and it gets harder and harder each time!

The game's difficult due to its speed. The Flash moves pretty fast when he gains momentum, there's a certain learning curve.
At least the graphics are lovely for an 8-bits system, the levels are kinda fun design-wise if a bit repetitive.
The music's cool enough to mention it~

Overall, I wanted to give this one a "2", Try It Out really, but I gotta try being honest with you gals and guys in my ratings. So 1.5 it is. (don't forget how my personal ratings system is done!)

It's a good enough game if you're interested in either the genre, the system or the character!
But far from perfect.

Controls a bit clumsy, yet beautiful colorful comic book-like graphics.

It was kinda based on a Gameboy game from 1991, which was a direct adaptation of The Flash TV show. Though this one's different in levels, graphics and gameplay. (and was much easier thanks to a password system absent on the Master System)

So it's kinda a distant sequel to that one, but from a different developer on a different console.


I give it:
 1.5 / 3 Asterix!

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