This is a review of The Flash on the Sega Master System. Released exclusively in Europe in 1993. Developed by Probe Entertainment and published by Sega (d'uh!), it is a licensed game of the DC Comics superhero, as he appeared in a short-lived (one season) CBS show – that was cancelled a whopping two years before the release of this very game. Timing! There was also an unrelated Game Boy title of the same name (and basis) published by THQ, but that's not up for review here – to be clear, that is.
The timing is exactly what makes this a weird one. The Flash (TV show, the CBS one) was hardly a game-changing, runaway success; so it seems just a tad odd to me as to why this would be the version of the character for which the game is based. Surely, it would have made a whole hell of a lot more sense just to be The Flash (the comic book)? Never the less, when I played this as a kiddie that's precisely what I presumed it was anyway. Comic book style cut scenes in game and hand-drawn cover art would have a young'un certainly lean in that direction. In fact, I didn't even have a clue a Flash show existed back then. A Lois & Clark game, sure, I'd get that; I think we'd all take Dean Cain in tights even now (cheers for making Superman Returns look like a masterpiece by the way, Mr. Snyder) but that's a whole other kettle of peanuts.
When it comes to The Flash, much like his current [2015/6] CW big brother Green Arrow; he is often an overlooked character from DC lore. Granted, he's no Wonder Woman when it comes to being left out in the cold when it comes to video games – but when you compare to the sheer amount of Batman and Superman sourced titles – it gets re-dogone-diculous!! It's all a tad puzzling, really. Sort of how Mark Hamill is both the Trickster in the CBS and The CW shows (my minds still aching over that – not only that, but Barry's dad is Barry in this and...UGH MY HEAD). Speaking of, he's the main villain on display here…
The overall presentation of the game is something I do enjoy. I like the comic style panels during cutscenes with dialogue from STAR Labs (and Tina), etc. It looks great and really emphasizes that this is, after-all; a comic book game. Plus, dat Sega intro doe!
The music is freakin' sweet, I must note. Like, really freakin' sweet. Fittingly upbeat and at time thumping, yet completely heroic chiptune. Who says the Master System didn't have as many good soundtracks as its Ninty competitor!? Not me, that’s for sure. The music was composed by the typically overlooked Jeroen Tel (WAVE) who had previously delivered choice cuts on games like Hewson's Cybernoid, Psygnosis' Agony and did mighty work on the Amiga and C64 ports of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's all so darn catchy and you can check out the full soundtrack online at the usual places, just whack it in YouTube and have a listen!
I must stress that The Flash is not a particularly easy game, yet at the same time it's not so hard that you'll want to drill the cart. It's a fine balance, but does lean on the more stressful side thanks to that damn time limit. That said, you get at least four hits before kicking the bucket, which is three more than a whole host of other 8-Bit games that could be named. It's also alarmingly short once your grip is fully established. This does hurt it a bit on the whole longevity side of things, but its shelf life from the fun factor and one more go appeal will make it a title easy to revisit at least once annually when you take a break from your 50th go round on Alex Kidd.
Ultimately The Flash is well worth a go, even if its only to witness some 8-Bit style “Blast Processing” and to hear the incredible soundtrack pump from your HiFi (hooked up through the CRT, naturally). Be a hero, go save the day – then wonder if why the heck the new Flash so has so many connections to the old – and why did they wait so long after cancellation to make this booger!? It's The Flash!!
Story wise its as you'd expect. You play as The Flash to take down The Trickster who has teamed up with Trachmann (I literally had to Google Trachmann, too. Cheers TV show I've never seen!) in a bid to wreak chaos and general disarray in good ol' Central City. A bunch of gems and what not have been stolen, which the Flash (or you, the player) can nab back along the way as a secondary objective. Taking obvious cues from the show, the game is presented in an episodic nature as opposed to levels/worlds, with two zones and a boss fight a piece.
In many ways, The Flash is a precursor to the popular endless runners that the App Store is littered with these days. By that I mean that in the game you're essentially blasting through as fast as possible against a tight time limit. The time limit is represented in a way that has the Flash being chased down, get caught =/= get killed. Obstacles are pretty much littered everywhere, from walls to enemies (many of whom look like leftover punks from Streets of Rage) and even teaser power-ups that *ahem* trick you by way of being a bloomin' mine. You'll likely be cursing before the first Episode is even up. There's a whole load of little Flash symbols to collect and the power up boxes when not tricking you are handy little additions to your arsenal in the form of Flash's powers from the show (besides the speed, which is always there). Thus, you can also play this like Taz-Mania and go spinning about the place, which is always fun. Levels/zones/areas/whatevers look absolutely enormous, with gigantic buildings that look a tad out of scale when considering the character sprites on screen.
In respect to Flash's speed, it's very well represented here. It really needed to be, otherwise it would sort of render the game a tad moot. It actually feels like Flash is faster than the (at least) 8-Bit Sonic games, which is instantly impressive; but the good impression continues when you consider it's not just a Bubsy or any number of super fast Amiga platformers in the way that you can actually handle Flash. Or will, once used to the mechanics and more importantly the level design. It's a game that is obviously meant to be played multiple times over and is more or less a speedrunners wet dream in that regard. Muscle memory will have to be working overtime, so best stock up on Pro Plus (and Immodium, for afters) to get going properly.
One thing that does bug me slightly is the lack of thought gone into the boss battles. It's basically the same thing over and over again just with a difficulty spike. It's Flash taking on The Trickster, who with each passing fight tricks out the Trickstermobile further. Fair enough, in another way at looking at it, as if it was a film or what have you, it would make more sense for it to be multiple battles with the same darn rogue as opposed to attempting to shoehorn far too much for the sake of toy sales. There's 10 zones in all for Flash to run around and fight in as a means to claw back control of Central City for its citizens. Whether its out in the streets (with massive MAYOR TRICKSTER posters everywhere, or even in the Trickster's very own Funhouse (wait, he is The Trickster not Joker, right?) there is much to master.
Verdict:- Well... It's The Flash on the Master System! If that isn't enough to entice you, no amount of rambling here will, either. If you want a sexy time in the form of an overlooked game featuring an often overlooked hero, then this could well be a go to choice. It's tricky, but if you're looking for a quick break from Batman or Superman, give Barry's 8-Bit gem a shot. Transbot knows when we'll actually get another bloomin' Flash game anyway! So yeah, go and get on it, people. Tell 'em Olly sent ya. Might get a discount. Probably not.
Second Opinion:- Puny human lies...Transbot hasn't the foggiest when there will be a new Flash game. Taking Transbot's name in vein..
Anyway! Transbot likes this one. It goes fast and that Trickster fellow seems a jolly sort. The Flash is a game that tickles the old circuits in just the right way, delivering swift slices of justice at a scary good top speed. Play it.
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10