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Jagged Alliance: Flashback Kickstarter is Up

By on April 24th, 2013 9:53 am

Jagged Alliance 2 is easily one of my favorite games of all time, and I know I’m not alone in this assessment. I played a long time ago (almost 14 years), but I still remember how addictive and fun its turn-based tactical system was. The tension, the humor, the depth, the visceral experience. It was really a great game.

In many ways Jagged Alliance 2 reminds me of X-COM: UFO Defense, the tactical combat part at least. But, in JA2 you control mercenaries fighting the minions of an authoritarian state, while in X-COM you play with special operatives fighting an alien incursion.

Couple of weeks ago, we wrote about Full Control’s announcement for a new Jagged Alliance game, which should be both “fresh” and “true” to the series. Well, the full title is Jagged Alliance: Flashback and Full Control, the Danish indie studio with experience in turn-based games, turns to Kickstarter to help fund his project.

Jagged Alliance 2 - Turn-based tactical combat

Jagged Alliance 2 - Turn-based tactical combat

As it so happens, Full Control managed to acquire the licensing rights for Jagged Alliance from bitComposer Games. But, as they say in the KS video, have decided not to be funded by bitComposer via a traditional Publisher-Developer scheme, so to keep its independence intact. Therefore, the Kickstarter decision.

Full Control intends to stay true to what made the original Jagged Alliance games great. But, they also plan to upgrade the gameplay with the inclusion of a deeper strategic layer. There would be a clear gameplay separation into two layers: a tactical combat layer and a deeper than previously found strategy layer. So, besides choosing your next assignment and managing your squad, you’d also manage a base, add new facilities to that base, and even conduct research to unlock better weapons.

The story is now set during the Cold War in the mid-1980s with a USSR vs USA showdown, on the Caribbean island group of San Christobal.

Jagged Alliance: Flashback major features:

  • Single-player tactical turn-based action
  • Cover system and 3D tile system with multiple levels
  • Roleplaying: NPC interaction
  • Customizable mercenaries (from gear to hair style)
  • Base management: plan missions, build training facilities, research new weapons, defend captured areas
Jagged Alliance: Flashback - Base concept art

Jagged Alliance: Flashback - Base concept art

Full Control’s Jagged Alliance: Flashback proposal in a nutshell:

  • Turn-based strategy/tactics
  • Cold War setting (mid 1980’s)
  • Single-player story driven gameplay (in French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish)
  • Windows, Mac, Linux
  • DRM-free option
  • ETA: late 2014 (2015 if stretch goals achieved – to be disclosed later)
  • Target: $350,000 (May 23, 5:59pm EDT) –  “If we just barely make the goal, the game size will possibly not have the size and complexity of what some players expect from a spiritual successor for Jagged Alliance 2. But we would rather want to make a solid smaller turn-based Jagged Alliance:Flashback, than not make a game at all.” ~Full Control
  • $25 pledge to get digital game copy
  • Why Kickstarter: “the only way to stay independent”; to realize “our vision”; to get community feedback

So, Jagged Alliance lovers, are you feeling that nostalgia effect? The irresistible urge to help these guys bring back one of the best PC games of all time? I surely know I am! :)

But, as always, this is a crowdfunding project with plenty of risks involved (e.g. delays, change of plans, others), so, always resist the immediate urge to spend your money, and back thoughtfully.

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  1. csebal says:

    “So, Jagged Alliance lovers, are you feeling that nostalgia effect? The irresistible urge to help these guys bring back one of the best PC games of all time?”
    Nope, sorry.

    I love JA2, but they have nothing that would be worth my attention. In the age of kickstarters, “yet another one” is no news worth mentioning, especially with such a lackluster introduction.

    Once they have something tangible, something resembling a game, I will consider caring.. until then, they are just another bunch who makes empty promises. (disclaimer: all promises are considered empty until proven otherwise)

    Best of luck is all I can say to them.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Well, you know, I confess to have felt the hype and the urge to back this on sight after seeing the kickstarter. Now, after following my own advice, I’m back to sane state and can evaluate this from a more sober angle :)

      But, even if only for a few brief moments, you do feel some desire to contribute immediately. At least if you’re a original JA lover like me. Nostalgia does play a trick on you on this Kickstarter business. That’s why we need to be careful about our emotions playing tricks on us.

      Will probably depend on the quality of their KS updates, but I may back this one up.

      • csebal says:

        Oh sure.. would be pointless to deny it. I also get these urges as much as anyone else.

        Then I dismiss those urges and move on.

        I also tend to look at how likely the projects are to meet their goals without me, and if they do, I just skip them.. in this case, the 350k goal is so low, that I would be surprised if they would not meet it.

        As for the project itself, there are several things I dislike about it from the get go..

        – reward tiers are .. well .. I find their value lacking.

        – stretch goals are hidden (probably not yet finished) until a certain level of funding is reached.. effectively stretch goals are revealed as the first stretch goal of sorts.

        Let me tell you why this troubles me. If I would know what my stretch goals are, I would plaster them all over the place.. why? Because it shows my vision for the project.. the direction I see towards which to improve it.

        Publishing that would give uncertain potential backers yet another step towards the imaginary peak their wallets are on top of. Why would I want to deny myself the possibility that someone is won over by my vision for the future of the game, even if those stretch goals are not met, they can still be achieved post release.

        So no stretch goals in my book mean a lack of vision when it comes to the project and that is as big of a STOP sign as it can get.

        – Setting.. USSR vs USA. Really? Thats the best they could come up with? The age old.. good democrats vs bad commies conflict?Especially in a game about mercenaries, where they really would have no need to touch politics in any way, they manage to fuck it up by making a game about a basically political conflict. Bravo.

        The original games had great stories that did not involve real world politics past, future or present of any kind.

        Bah, I better just stop :P The more I think about that kickstarter the more I start to dislike it.

        • salvo says:

          yep, the stereotyped settings – good US ‘democrats’ vs bad russian commies – is absolutely ridiculous, I’m not going to back this

        • Kordanor says:

          I agree about the reward tiers and partially agree with the stretch goals. They argue that they want to get feedback from the community first but I’d prefer a clear vision. I mean if I get another XCom:EU I would not back it.
          I disagree about the setting though. JA1 and JA2 are in a similar setting as well. I think it is the more natural step. Nowadays such a dictator regime is much harder to establish or to make it believable. Sure there are similar situations in afrika with Mali for example. But do you really want to hunt taliban? I think it fits more into the “cheesyness” of the JA series to have the “classical” situation. Same as in Fallout by the way. But I would not call Fallout a game about today’s politics.

        • Kordanor says:

          There was just an official comment in the forums:

          Please note that in a future update we’ll go into more detail about the story. Do you really believe that we want to make a game where Russians are bad and Americans are great?

          So far no one said that you’ll not be able to play on both sides. So far no one said who’s evil and who’s not.

          Fact: we don’t like thinking in Black & White. Grey is the color.

        • csebal says:

          I don’t know.. their explanation is very .. ehm.. weak.
          They say that it will not be black or white as they believe in gray.. cool.. except that both black, white and gray are just different luminosity variations of the same base color.

          I would have liked a story that is a little more colorful than CIA hired guns tasked to take back a country from a soviet (ex)general dictator. Even if you can be the bad guy and help the commies take over the island, it would still revolve around the same political conflict of the USA being scared of a potential commie base not that far off their shore. (at least this is the back story they gave, so this is what I have to work with)

          I mean, even just a variation of the old JA2 story would have been a lot better than that:
          King’s daughter marries wealthy businessmen. They live in peace and harmony until the guy decides to get rid of uncle king and seize power. Daughter shocked by her fathers death and her husband’s betrayal escapes to hire some mercs who would liberate the country for her.
          You can either turn that into a classical princess story, or give it an evil twist, by making the daughter a deidranna like harpy, who terrorized her husband resulting in her present situation when the guy (poor ol’ Elliott) finally managed to man up.

      • Smeghead says:

        Aren’t you demonstrating a double-standard in your skepticism for this project with your own statement that your judgment is clouded by your emotions? After all, you supported Limit Theory on nothing more than your emotional reaction to Josh’s confidence – despite his lack of experience with programming – much less game programming?

        Full Control has games development experience – they have published commercial games; specifically, turn-based games. Whereas Josh has none. No professional experience programming of any sort. Yet in your piece on LT, you glossed over Josh’s lack of any sort of experience.

        Perhaps I’m missing something here.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Nah. What I said is that when I saw the JA KS up I wanted to back it immediately, because of my emotional attachment to the series. It was that impulse you feel when you’re excited and affected by nostalgia.

          But, after reading the page and preparing this piece I used the time to calm down my emotions and think it straight. That’s not skepticism, it’s prudence. But, I didn’t say I will not back the project. I probably will, just not at sight.

          In fact, if I remember correctly I did show skepticism but not about JA KS but precisely about Limit Theory. So, I have no idea what are you basing your observation on.

    • Kordanor says:

      I first backed with the minimum pledge of 25$ and now rose to the new pledge level of 35$. Wether or not I pledge even more pretty much depends on what they are going to show in the future, whether or not they put in some additional pledge levels (or add ins), and how much they want to “be like XCom EU”. But I agree in so far, that the initial kickstarter page was and is not 100% convincing.
      But I count JA to my top favorite game series and therefore it’s worth the risk to me to give at least the minimum of support which I might extend later on.

  2. Njordin says:

    It´s easy to sum up with the backing or not backing:

    no risk – no fun.

  3. Alien JD says:

    I’m not sure what to think. I love JA2 but the only game I’m familiar with from this studio is a pretty bad free to play game that makes you buy the medic, sniper, and points to out kit out your squad in separate DLC. It’s called frontline tactics. It’s free to play on steam if you’d like to check it out.

  4. Hypnotron says:

    The more I look into this project, the more red flags I notice.

    – do they have a license to make sequels? expansions?
    – you got the JA License first but you didn’t have the ability to fund development? Sounds like a lie to me. This game I think gets made with or without Kickstarter money and that’s because they will be using their Frontline Tactics engine and so in a sense, already have a working version of the game.
    – I don’t like that it’s taking place in the past. Was this a condition of obtaining the license? Geo-politically today there’s a lot of interesting things going on. They can invent some fictitious country and scenarios just like they always did but still deal in the hot topics of today. (terrorism, blackwater, drone strikes, PTSD, etc.) Or maybe they just don’t have the balls. But I think if you want to make a really successful hit JA game today, you have to acknowledge that your audience isn’t so naïve as they were in 1999 or even 2004. People are much more cynical and they don’t believe in good vs evil and right vs wrong. It’s many shades of gray. Maybe a player who is a mercenary should have to deal with the fact they aren’t fighting for a cause of their own… they’re just fighting for money.

    But instead, I think they’re going to go with the G.I Joe approach to military conflict.

    • Hypnotron says:

      and to be clear, I think JA is a perfect game for this sort of depth of both gameplay and atmosphere. I just don’t think these developers care about any of that.

      To paraphrase a passage at the beginning of The Forever War…

      “He never wanted to go to war, but the leaders have drawn a line in the sand — despite the fact that their fierce enemy is unknowable, unconquerable, and very far away. So he will perform his duties without rancor and even rise up through the military’s ranks… if he survives. But the true test of his mettle will come when he returns state side… it will prove the saying: you never can go home…”

    • Kordanor says:

      Well, they clarified some of your points.
      Can’t tell you about the content of the licensing contract. However the papers about the contract between Bethesda and Interplay about a Fallout MMO were leaked and visible for everyone. That way they gave some insight how such a contract can work. They already wrote that the money from KS goes completely into the development. The license holder however will get some money from each game which is sold afterwards. So I guess they either paid nothing for the license beforehead or just a low amount.
      They also said that they were asked by BitComposer to do a “reskinned” version for JA but then FC asked them to do a “real” game instead. Of course that can’t be confirmed by us in any way but I would not see the worst there.
      And normally companies don’t try to distinguish themselves from each other as they did. They clearly stated that they didn’t like what BitComposer did with the license before.

      In the forums you can find some statements about the story. It should not be the GI Joe approach at all and not Black and White. The rest of my postings are quotes from the forums:

      Please note that in a future update we’ll go into more detail about the story. Do you really believe that we want to make a game where Russians are bad and Americans are great?

      So far no one said that you’ll not be able to play on both sides. So far no one said who’s evil and who’s not.

      Fact: we don’t like thinking in Black & White. Grey is the color.

      With 350k you won’t be able to chose directly. Let’s say, for the moment, that we have some interesting twists here and there. And honestly: Would you trust the CIA? I mean, really?

      What it means: We don’t like pointing out who is bad and who is good. In the end: No one is really bad or really good. And we have some twists in our plot already. You may will start working for the CIA, but that doesn’t mean you continue to work for them.

      Feel free to give the second update read. There are already some details we shared.

      Actually Cold War isn’t black or white. As you said, both sides just said it to be black or white. But truth is that everyone made mistakes. And that everyone had intentions. And everyone lied, betrayed and punished other countries. That’s what we want to cover.

    • Hypnotron says:

      the meta game can be to have the player try to siphon off as much money from his budget into his personal account in the “Tiny Alligator” Island National Bank. This way even if player loses the battle for his bosses, he still wins!

      in each level you can potentially find caches of drugs, money, guns and hey… it’s just free money! you’re a merc or aren’t you?

      the other meta game can be managing your guilt and the guilt of your comrades. how many innocent women and children did you blow up today? Did you have to torture and humiliate your captives for information very much this last time?

      Anyways, believe me I’m not being facetious here. I really do think that a game that tackled stuff like this in this day and age would be well received. Honesty is not obscene unlike the GI Joe version.

  5. Hypnotron says:


    Thanks for the post. That does clear up some of my concerns.

    I’ll continue to keep an open mind! :)

  6. nakano says:

    @csebal: “I also tend to look at how likely the projects are to meet their goals without me, and if they do, I just skip them.. in this case, the 350k goal is so low, that I would be surprised if they would not meet it.”
    We need you now csebal to throw the $8000 pledge ;)
    Edit: Someone was fast enough to take it a few seconds ago.

    @Adam Very nice site you have here. Found it through this post. Will bookmark it surely. And nice to have an edit button while waiting for moderation.

  7. Adam Solo says:

    77% of the goal reached with … 2.5 days to go. Chances look grim.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Almost 93% with 23 hours to go. Amazing recovery! Looks like there’s still a good chance they’ll make it after all. Ended up pledging.

    • Adam Solo says:

      They made it! With 6 hours to go. I confess that when I saw 77% with 60 hours to go I doubted this campaign would make it.

      • Kordanor says:

        Now we can just hope that they get additional money from other sources. 350k isn’t a lot for such a project, especially considering that they take the shipping costs themselves. In this case they money only is enough to get the ball rolling I guess. I hope they get additional money with Space Hulk or additional investors.

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