Growing-up, my comic-book games of choice were mostly Batman-related. Captain America And The Avengers was an exception, as was whatever the least rubbish Spider-Man game was back in the day.
The brilliant Comix Zone doesn’t count.
Then there was The Flash, a Game Boy game I once owned very briefly before passing it on to a friend never to see it again. Though I had only recently become a Flash aficionado thanks to the underrated 90’s TV series, I was still not impressed with Nintendo’s take on the speedy superhero.
Sadly, I did not own the far superior Sega Master System version of the game which was full of colour, boasted superior graphics and a fun cartoonish style.
Ok so maybe The Flash stalking a big van isn’t exactly the most inspiring screenshot I could have picked but you get the idea: backgrounds, colour, action, The Flash running fast, all basic things you’d expect from a game based on the DC hero.
Alright, forget the Sega Master System for now.
It’s Game Boy time.
Ah yes The Trickster.
That playful, sadistic supervillain who’s totally not The Joker but totally is.
Speaking of which, remember when Mark Hamill was The Trickster in the Flash TV series?
He was also the voice of The Joker for ages.
The Trickster = The Joker.
Simple maths, really.
Anyway, in the game, The Trickster’s placed bombs all over Central City and it’s, of course, up to The Flash to run around and disarm them.
BY PUNCHING THEM.
Because that’s clearly the best way to disarm an explosive device: with your fist.
I… disapprove of this technique.
The game is presented in the usual Game Boy monochrome fashion, which means that you can forget about the red suit and that yellow lightning bolt logo right there. If anything, they should have just released this one on the Virtual Boy!
Sure would have made more sense than Waterworld!
The graphics in this one are underwhelming to say the least. Whenever two characters are fighting, their bodies start blinking to the point where you can’t make out either of them.
Am I winning?
I can’t tell.
Sadly, when it comes to the visuals, the game is a bit of a let down. All the levels, with one obvious exception, take place either in a building or just outside a building. Is Central City like three blocks long?
Luckily, one level sees The Flash run after (and past) a train and, although said train looks like it’s going about 10 meters per hour, it’s pretty cool to see something different and see The Flash running with purpose for once because, up to that point, the running is entirely unnecessary.
In fact, you could easily reskin this one into a Batman or a Wolverine game, this is a pretty standard side-scroller in which The Flash’s unique abilities are barely relevant. Oh sure, you pick up the odd Flash logo here and there but there’s a gaping error in this game’s concept: what’s to stop The Flash from running past all the minor enemies and fighting The Trickster straight away? Nothing! You can totally run past them and, soon enough, you’ll find yourself doing just that.
On the plus side, this game never forgets Barry Allen’s accelerated metabolism which enables him to eat way more than most without negative health issues in order to maintain his energy by conveniently scattering snacks throughout the game.
A fun detail to leave in the game, even if those snack machines really are everywhere for no reason.
Another thing you can pick up, besides Flash logos and snacks, is money.
Good old money.
Not even bank notes or shiny gold coins: big floating dollar signs.
Turns out Flash likes to flash his cash.
I don’t really want to assume that Barry Allen is essentially just robbing some houses on his way to battling The Trickster in this game but I’m gonna go ahead and do that because it’s way more interesting than anything this game’s plot has to offer.
Even The Flash himself quickly gets bored of this monotonous and repetitive bomb-finding quest.
I know how you feel, buddy.
Before I get to the end of the review, how about we play one round of the new gameshow that’s taking the retro world by storm?
As of riiiiiiight now.
Yes, indeed, it’s time for “Spot The Dead Guy”!
Here we go:
Find him yet?
I like this gameshow, don’t you? It’s just like “Where’s Waldo?” but with death.
There’s something hugely unimaginative about this Flash effort, in all seriousness. Every level is exactly the same: you walk around, some dudes who all look identical are in your way, there’s snacks, a boss, there’s a hole on the ground…
And a big cartoon bomb to punch right at the end.
No surprises, nothing special.
Even the one decent level, the one with the train, is repeated later on for lack of anything new. Altogether pretty disappointing fare, maybe even a tad lazy.
My favourite bit, however, comes once the game wraps up its “story” as The Flash stops mindlessly staring right for a second, breaks the fourth wall and turns to look at you before winking at you creepily.
So do I recommend this particular version of The Flash?
Nope, not really. Despite a couple of nice touches and some decent music mimicking Danny Elfman’s kickass theme song, this is one Game Boy game that’s entirely skippable. It’s not particularly bad but there’s so little about it that’s unique in any way you might as well play something else, something worthwhile. Just check out the Sega Master System version (if you can: it’s pretty rare) instead or simply re-watch the 90’s TV show.
Is it too late to play one last round of “Spot The Dead Guy”?
Hey Flash, your game sucks!
I don’t think you quite get the point of this game.
I spotted the dead guy, like, SO fast.