Like many kids who grew up in the US, but certainly not all, I had very little access and knowledge of the Commodore 64. I missed out on the many original and significantly inspired titles that I likely would have had a blast playing. One of those titles was Turrican. Despite me not knowing about Turrican’s C64 roots, I did know of the series because of games like Mega Turrican for the Sega Genesis. The series began with the original’s release in 1990 by Manfred Trenz.
Fast-forward to today, an era where nostalgia is on the minds and release schedules of many, and we have the newly released Turrican Flashback. This is a compilation of Turrican (C64), Turrican II: The Final Fight (Amiga), Mega Turrican (Mega Drive/Genesis) and Super Turrican (SNES).
Turrican is a a run-and-gun action platformer series that emphasizes pure action and exploration. Games I was familiar with like Contra had plenty of action but were very linear. Turrican offers levels with almost too much exploration. It is easy to get lost in them and even run out of time searching for the exit. Which simply means you should play more to get familiar with the levels or git gud ;).
While Turrican Flashback delivers copious amounts of nostalgia, it also offers plenty of quality of life enhancements. This compilation offers cheats for each of the four titles in addition to a rewind button that allows players to dodge bullets, enemies, bottomless pits etc.
While the core of what Turrican is does not change wildly between the original title and Super Turrican, each subsequent release does offer their own twist on the well-established formula. Turrican II, which was developed by Factor 5 of Rogue Squadron fame, cleans up some of the rough spots found in the original. Players’ ability to not get hit by enemies on the edge of screen is increased somewhat and it felt easier to find the exit.
The Mega Drive/Genesis’ entry, Mega Turrican, feels like the best title in the group and offers a grappling hook. This traversal tool is a neat addition that takes a couple of minutes to get used to but really mixes things up a bit.
The freeze ray that Super Turrican introduces is kind of a tame twist given the grappling hook its predecessor introduced. Super Turrican plays well and sounds great though.
Ultimately I think Turrican Flashback shines for those nostalgic for it and for newcomers – mostly due to the rewind and cheat options. The quality of life options are critical and I’m sure that videophiles will appreciate the many graphical fidelity options available for scanlines and other visual elements. I’m not sure why Super Turrican II didn’t make the cut but what’s here is worth trying for the first time or a walk down memory lane.