Friday Flashback Five: Week of June 25, 1995


You know what today is—time for another Friday Flashback Five!  Each week we take a look at five games that debuted this week in history.  Some had a lasting impact, some were forgettable, and some were in that grey area in the middle.  This week, we’re jaunting back to the week of June Twenty-Fifth, back in ‘Ninety-Five.

Quite a few of games came out this week and most were at least interesting in some regard, making it hard to pick just five to talk about.  As always, the list isn’t ordered; it’s just a look back at five games.

All of that out of the way, let’s get it on!

Air Combat
The game that started a rather successful franchise.  It originally appeared in the arcades in a rather different form, and as with many games of that era, it was eventually retooled to be released on the original PlayStation.

It featured the blend of “arcade-y” aspects and “real-ish” aspects that the series would be known for, and interestingly enough featured a mechanic that wouldn’t be seen again until Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War—a wingman that you could give simplistic orders to.

As you can see in this play-through of the game, another thing the series would be known for is the disparity in visuals—the planes looked great for the time (and considering that dealing with calculations based on such a vast three-dimensional world is more intensive than a two-dimensional world, which many technically-three-D games were back then)—but everything else didn’t.  Still, the planes were the focus of the game, and looking back at it as we near the fourteenth game in the series as a whole, it’s easy to see why gamers enjoyed this game enough for Namco to turn it into that franchise.

Flashback: The Quest for Identity
Finally hitting the Jaguar this week, after having come out on most other systems as early as two years before, Flashback was what it advertised itself to be—a quest for identity.  The player controlled Conrad Hart, a man without a memory, as he tries to discover what happened to him—and why people are trying to kill him.

On the face of it, and looking back from an era were amnesia-centered stories have become downright trite, it doesn’t seem all that interesting.  It was, however, rather novel and new at the time.  What helped was that it was inspired by Prince of Persia, though it improved on the basic design.

Controlling Hart was much smoother and more intuitive than controlling the Prince, for one thing, and the story was much more interesting and complex.  It’s almost a shame Flashback didn’t spawn a lasting series, as innovative and interesting as it was.  There’s a “long-play” (basically a play-through that isn’t broken up into ten- or fifteen-minute segments) of the S.N.E.S. version of the game (mostly identical to the others) here.

Hard Evidence: The Marilyn Monroe Files
This—was an odd game.  It was a first-person puzzle-game—kind of.  In truth, it was more a documentary on the controversy that to this day surrounds her death.

It’s not hard to see why the game was made in the first place.  Her death was more than the death of a celebrity—it was the death of “one of us”.  Norma Jeane Baker was the woman beneath the sultry, almost sensual, yet still somehow innocent façade that was Marilyn Monroe.  It’s long been known that, yes, “Marilyn Monroe” was indeed a façade to hide a shy, depressed, perhaps even “broken” girl, which has only made the desire to know more about her life and her death grow stronger as the years pass.

The game is fueled on that desire.  You take the role of a detective investigating her death, and through reading a lot of documents and watching a lot of videos, you uncover numerous pieces of evidence , which then get collated and fed into a computer.  Ultimately, there were eight possible scenarios, though—whether by accident or by design—the game offered evidence in such a manner as to allow for the player to come up with their own theory.

As a whole, it actually falls somewhere between being a puzzle-based game of logic, a retrospective on a high-profile unsolved murder, and an homage to a woman who continues to capture minds and hearts decades after her death.

Primal Rage
While every version came out the same year, only the Game Boy version came out this week in history.  Primal Rage has always been the odd duck in fighting games.  Where other series had combination moves that bordered on button-mashing, Primal Rage focused on D-pad movements with a button-press as the last thing input.

That was just one thing that made it stand out.  Others were using actual models photographed (like a few other fighting games of that era), as well as an interesting between-round mini-game.  Each of the seven monstrous characters were considered gods and thus worshipped accordingly.  In addition to occasionally being able to try and eat a cave-person-like worshipper in the middle of a fight as they run out, bow, and run away again, between fights there was a mini-game where you ate as many worshippers as you could.

The Game Boy version—did away with most of the things that made the game interesting.  To be fair, they had to, considering the stricter limits on data, so while they focused on keeping it looking somewhat like its “big brothers” on the consoles, they did away with mini-games, over-simplified the combinations (to fit the Game Boy only having two buttons aside from the D-pad), and in the end came out with a product better used as a target for skeet shooting than an actual game.  It really didn’t do the others justice, and so was swiftly forgotten.

King Arthur and the Knights of Justice
This is one based on a cartoon of the same name.  It’s rather difficult to try and adequately summarize that cartoon, but suffice it to say that the “real” King Arthur and his knights were kidnapped and magically imprisoned, so Merlin brought football quarterback Arthur King and his team back in time to basically “fill in”.  Yeah, don’t think about that one too much.

That said, it was an interesting cartoon, and like many tried to display good values.  It was one of the few to really try and tackle the issue of sexism, for example, which it did around twice in the show’s two-season run.

The game more or less followed the loose plot of the cartoon, which is to say that Arthur must try and find twelve magic keys to free the “real” King Arthur and his knights.  Along the way, Arthur King and up to two companions will—smack a lot of things.  Repeatedly.  In an era when R.P.G.s were rising in fame, King Arthur and the Knights of Camelot was almost shockingly simplistic.  You walked around and smacked things, and occasionally collected things for Merlin; it’s not too terribly hyperbolic to say that that was more or less it.  There’s a play-through of it here for the morbidly curious, but suffice to say that whatever good could be said about the cartoon couldn’t really be said about the game.

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That’s all for this week, folks.  See you Monday, and have a good weekend!

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2 Responses to “Friday Flashback Five: Week of June 25, 1995”

  1. Elisa Michelle Says:

    Unfortunately I have no memory of any of these. I was four when they debuted, haha.

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