Flashback: The Quest For Identity Prelude

By | Monday, July 12, 2021 Leave a Comment
Over the weekend, I pulled out my old Sega Genesis and fired up Flashback: The Quest for Identity. I remembered it being a great game, and I was pleased to see how well it holds up. It had a really good storyline, some excellent design work, and the graphics still look pretty decent considering it came out almost 30 years ago.

But what surprised me was that the manual included an original 14-page comic that acted as a prelude to the game itself. It was evidently contracted by Delphine Software to Marvel Comics. It was written by James Moore, drawn by Mike Harris and Frank Percy, and lettered by Rick Parker. The cover was by comic veteran Mike Grell. There are no credits to Paul Cuisset who wrote, designed, directed, and partially programmed the game, so I suspect he was only consulted minimally at best for the creation of the comic.

I noticed several bits about the comic that strike me as interesting. First, the game itself centers around the hero, Conrad, who wakes up on a jungle planet with no memory of who he is or how he got there. As the gamer, your first job is to figure out who Conrad is and why so many people are trying to kill him. The comic, chronologically set before the game, largely answers that question. I don't think that takes away from the game play per se -- the comic can only relay so much in 14 pages after all -- but it's curious that it would be explained right off the bat.

Second, the comic provides Conrad with Sonya, a love interest who mysteriously vanishes (presumably captured) near the end of the comic. There's also mention of a friend Ian who left suddenly just before the comic takes place. In the game, Ian makes an appearance and helps Conrad out. There is, however, no mention of Sonya in the game; in fact, there's hardly any mention of women in the game at all, and the couple that do appear are older, overweight and appear in the briefest of cameos. I can somewhat understand where that might've come from within the game, but why then introduce a totally new character for this comic? The only answer I could hazard a guess at might be that the cover art was done with a rather generic blond thrown in, and Moore wanted or was asked to explain her appearance on the cover art through the comic. (Since the image itself would otherwise be quite at odds with the dearth of females in the actual game.)

There was a remake of the game in 2013 that seems to have addressed some of the disconnects between the comic and the original game, although I don't believe the remake includes a comic prelude of any sort.

As a minor point of curiosity, a few speech balloons unnecessarily break out of the confines of the panel borders on pages six, seven and nine. All of them could easily have fit within the panel borders, and would've then been more consistent with the rest of the comic. Similarly, the gutters begin to disappear on the last two pages and we're provided with one action panel -- the only one in the comic -- in which the art breaks the boundaries of the panel border. None of these are a huge deal, but it does seem a little incongruousness with the rest of the comic. The only possible explanation I can think of is a looming deadline that caused the last pages to be whipped out more quickly than the others.

Anyway, here's the comic if you're actually interested...
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