Format reviewed: Sega Master System
Developer: Probe Entertainment
Submitted by: Lee Tatlock
There are a good few comic book characters that I am aware of but not particularly au fait with; The Flash being one such super-chap. I was much more into the likes of 2000 a.d. (particularly Nemesis the Warlock, Bradley the Sprog and Slaine) and for most part I still am, but I always found the American comic book heroes to be a bit cheesy and overly patriotic for my liking, although the Dredd vs. Batman vs. Death cross over is still one of my faves of all time. Now I am fully aware that these comics have all taken on a much darker tone, for the better and awesome tomes like The Darkness and Battle Chasers have also joined the likes of Judge Dredd and A.B.C. Warriors on my bookshelf. However The Flash looks like a total cheese bag, to me at least, I mean the guy is wearing a tight red onesie and has lightning bolts coming out of his lug holes for droks sake!
So let us put the spandex nightmare visage aside and review the game. Firstly I gathered that by his name The Flash was a more masculine version of Billy Whizz with super fast skills and other such powers that would take massive amounts of certain powders and pills for an average chap to achieve, and low and behold I was right. Then suddenly before I had pressed the start button a cold sweat broke out all over me – super fast usually equals super uncontrollable – only Sonic has ever truly hit the turf blazing and made it an enjoyable experience (and even he has fell flat on his spiky blue bonce recently). ‘Too late now though,’ I thought I’ve shelled out for this potential train wreck so nothing to do but get on with it. And would you believe it it’s actually not that bad! Takes some getting used to at first because make no mistake this guy is super speedy. So what can this bright red buffoon do? Firstly you can leg it round like you’re pants are on fire and with a simple press of a button you can turn a sprint into a whirling nightmare, a tornado even, capable of knocking enemies flying off the screen like pathetic, whimpering, skittles. So far so good – and it’s all perfectly controllable with a small amount of practice. However there is an ugly issue that raised its head very early on: there are a good few leap of faith moments in this beast and that is one of my pet peeves, there is nothing worse than not being able to see what’s below you and just having to launch yourself into the blue with everything crossed and hope in your heart. This should never happen and on more than one occasion I have just dropped down a pit of spikes or fire with absolutely no way of knowing what lay in wait for me. So it’s a bit of a trial and error affair at points but it’s not too hideous and if you don’t go off on one and try and burn across the entire level you should be fine. So, rant over, what else does stepping into the ridiculous boots of the flash enable us to do – well you can sort of do a crouching spin which looks a bit like break dancing and you also have a nifty beam that you can aim up, down, left and right which also blitzes moustaches off the shady characters knocking around throwing bottles.
The levels are rather cool and the graphics are absolutely great – top notch 8-bit goodness – and the aim of each of these levels is to flip a switch that is knocking about somewhere which opens the exit which, of course, leads you to the next level. Dotted around these levels are various collectables including health, shields and time replenishers the latter of which is essential as you search out that elusive switch. Some of the obstacles that stand in the flash’s way are a little silly; definitely the first time I’ve been harmed by a spiky traffic cone but there it is. The enemies are pretty standard fare such as overcoat sporting thugs, punks and floating machine things. Bosses take on the form of chase scenarios where you have to blast away at crazy bad guy mobiles till they are mashed. These chase levels make a nice and exciting change of pace that really break up the usual jump and spin.
The music is pretty good, again top 8-bit stuff, however some of them feel a little ill fitting such as The Roller Coaster Runner level is a bit too jovial for its own good, but still it’s a decent tune.
Overall I would give The Flash a serious thumbs up, despite his ludicrous fashion sense. The difficulty level and few odd moments of unfairness may put a lot of softer gamers off, but for those of us made of sterner stuff this is definitely one to add to the collection. It is getting a touch on the rare side now, particularly complete with booklet (something I’m not bothered about as long as I have the box, as I do) but it isn’t one of the hardcore rare titles like Daffy Duck in Hollywood (which I would give a delicate body part for) or the 4 in 1 Action Pak (which is 3 parts rubbish) however it can be difficult to get hold of but it’s well worth the hunt.