Yes, We Turrican
HIGH Finding all diamonds in a level.
LOW Having to replay the final Super Turrican level ten times.
WTF Not being able to listen to the sweet tunes outside of the games.
Back in 1989, Commodore 64 users were left in awe by a single-level demo for an action title called Turrican. It featured incredible 2D scrolling graphics never before seen on the system, along with a rocking soundtrack.
In this original Turrican, the titular hero is a mutant warrior who must fight to free the colony of Alterra and make it habitable for human beings. Developer Manfred Trenz took design lessons from Metroid, in that the warrior can also morph into a ball and attack with swarm of missiles, along with being free to explore the world in a non-linear way. Everything else was par for the course back then — jump, gun down everything in sight, choose from various kinds of bullets and collect as many diamonds as possible.
After spawning a total of five titles, the Turrican series has been laying dormant since 1995, but Factor 5 and Inin Games have now given the IP a ‘deluxe’ emulation treatment, along with some quality-of-life improvements. However, this Flashback package inexplicably contains only four titles. All come in their original versions with added filters for improved visibility on modern 16:9 screens, along with save states and a rewind function. And… well, that’s basically it.
Factor 5, unfortunately, not only left Super Turrican 2 out of the equation but also skimped on the extras common in retro compilations. I would have liked an interview with Trenz (there’s none on YouTube!) the original manuals or, at the very least, an external player to enjoy the fantastic Chris Huelsbeck soundtracks. However, there’s no such luck on any of those counts.
On the plus side, the work on the filters and CRT emulation has been extensive and there’s plenty of options to run through in order to find a sweet nostalgia spot for those who remember these titles. For newcomers (or those of us whose reflexes might be a bit rusty) there’s a blessed rewind function and it’s possible to create multiple save states — having plenty of them means it is possible to try and find every secret in every level without having to worry about one’s lives running out.
With 2D non-linear action titles making a comeback, it’s easy to see why the series is still held in high regard thanks to its smooth gameplay and decent replayability. The four included Turrican titles all have similar designs, and largely the same quality — at the time, this was top-of-the-line action throughout the mid-’90s. The later entries are perhaps not as celebrated as the first two, but they’re still engaging actioners.
If one’s reaction to the mere mention of Turrican is to jump with excitement, then this package is manna from heaven — buy it now, even though it’s a no-frills, incomplete collection. For newcomers who might be craving some retro action, it’s a solid package that will test one’s skills. Maybe nab it on sale, though.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Factor 5 and published by Inin Games. It is currently available on Switch and PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and two of the games were completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is rated E by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence and Mild Blood. Even though the Turrican series features plenty of shooting, there’s very little blood and violence, and all the enemies are aliens. I would say there would be no problem in anyone under 12 playing it today.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options and the action might get a little visually confusing sometimes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The games do not rely on audio cues and is fully accessible without sound. Text cannot be resized or altered.
Remappable Controls: the controls for every game in the package are remappable.
Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple.
He's a sucker for great stories in gaming, he loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs.
Damiano's been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on Twitter at @damgentemp, or on his blog https://genesistemple.com (now dedicated to the history of video game design).