It’s time to journey back to the 1990s with another classic gaming series re-release. This time that series is the phenomenal Rainbow Arts/Factor 5 developed Turrican.
Turrican, in case you may have missed it, is a platforming run and gun SF shooter that began life on the Commodore 64 before been ported to – and having sequels – on the Amiga, Snes and just about whatever home gaming platform existed at the time. Sporting some gorgeous 2D visuals and a thoroughly amazing soundtrack, Turrican was inspired by many of its contemporaries, such as Metroid, Sonic The Hedgehog, R-Type and even Super Mario, whilst putting its own spin on the action/exploration formula.
One of Turrican’s main mission design statements was the size of its secrets filled stages been based upon verticality and non-linearity. Following a specific path was not required to get you to the end of the stage and there was no in-game map either, so exploration – and superb memory recollection – were a necessity. Some lightning-fast reactions were not amiss either as, despite been a walking arsenal, Turrican could be killed pretty quickly if you weren’t quick on your feet, or your jump button.
Later games in the series reduced the stage sizes, aiming for more linearity, while providing far more stunning visuals, animation and what has come to be regarded as one of the best soundtracks in 16bit gaming.
Now some twenty-five plus years later, Turrican can garner a new group of fans thanks to this re-release.
Included in this collection are Turrican, Turrican 2, Mega Turrican and Super Turrican. All said that’s a lot of Turrican for your buck.
The story goes that sometime in the distant future, in a galaxy far, far away a rogue A.I. has gone on a slavery and genocide bender. Called MORGUL, it’s up to some faceless, bio-engineered metal grunt to go out there and stop it. You know, the usual death-defying stunts that nameless heroes do.
The story changes up a little for future instalments, but not by much. MORGUL becomes The Machine, and Turrican becomes a suit of armour, but what doesn’t change is the basic gameplay elements of a run and kill while platforming. Turrican can morph into a ball, has a screen-clearing super and can upgrade his weapons by collecting more of the same weapon type. Mega Turrican, aka Turrican 3, added a grapple rope ala Bionic Commando to get to hard to reach platforms while Super Turrican added a freeze beam and goes back to the design philosophy of the first games as it’s based upon the levels from Turrican 1 and 2.
Thankfully, even nearly thirty years later, Turricans gameplay is just as addictive.
Visually the games are as stunning now as when they were released. The beauty of 2D art is that, more often than not, the style holds up well and since Turrican was no slouch in the animation department, all those little touches and visuals – the almost 3D look to Turricans movement – looks fantastic on today’s screens and resolutions. Each instalment has its own unique visual look. Mega Turrican overloads on background detail, while Super Turrican provides a wealth of atmospheric detail with leaves blowing across the screen while lightning lights up the sky.
For the most part, this package is rather bare-bones on new additions to each game or in the presentation. The games story synopsis is available when you pick each title along with some details on its development and place in history but, unfortunately, there is no production artwork available. There are some visual options, the most noticeable being a CRT filter that can be customised for your retro visual needs. There’s the option to pick a background wallpaper and to play the games in black and white.
Most notable for the games themselves is the addition of saving and load states, the ability to customise your button layout and a rewind function for those moments that you know you could have avoided. The games original cheats are available from the get-go as well but come at the cost of trophies.
It would be easy to chalk Turrican up to another nostalgia train ride but its addictive gameplay, gorgeous 2D visuals and fantastic soundtrack – which is a technical achievement all its own when considering the hardware limitations at the time – more than passing the test of time. Its inspirational DNA can be found in many of today’s retro-style, pixel art shooters and now, with Turrican Flashback, you can out just why that is.
Turrican Flashback is available on Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation 4.
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game which can be purchased here for £27.99.
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