Turrican Flashback Review
The Turrican series has a long history going back over 30 years with the original game releasing on most major 8 and 16-bit microcomputers that were still a presence in the early 90s like the Commodore 64 and Amiga. This release brings the series to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch but how do they hold up?
First up, this collection includes four out of the five main entries, including Turrican, Turrican 2, Mega Turrican and Super Turrican with only the sequel to that last title being missing. The first two games are ports of the Amiga releases with Mega Turrican and Super Turrican being the Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo entries as you’d expect.
The games themselves are action platformers with an emphasis on shooting enemies. Like an amalgamation of Metroid-style open levels mixed with the run and gun elements of the Contra series. They are known for their difficulty with the original two games featuring a harsh energy mechanic where contact with enemies whittles it down before costing you a life.
Turrican is most remembered for its iconic weaponry, with the rotatable 360 degree beam of death, and the ability to turn into a spiked wheel a la Metroid’s Samus’ Morph Ball being the standouts. Your regular weapon can be changed via pickups to a spread shot, a laser or a bouncy-style shot, these and your beam of death can be upgraded too, extending to the edge of the screen.
Mega Turrican deviates from the traditional setup by swapping the 360 laser out for a grappling hook, this changes how the game plays quite significantly as the levels include Bionic Commando inspired platforming with you swinging across gaps and reaching higher ledges. Super Turrican which was in development alongside Mega Turrican is more like the original games and trades in the hook for the beam.
Speaking of the two console games, both Mega Turrican and Super Turrican are easier games than their prequels featuring less harsh level designs and moving away from the rapid energy drain mechanic to a fairer one where you gain a brief invincibility period once you take a hit.
These subtle differences between the games make all four titles play distinctly and shows how moving from home computers to the 16-bit consoles made both visual and gameplay changes to suit the new platforms. It helps that all four games are still a lot of fun to play, but from a historical context, they are interesting in their own right.
Turrican Flashback’s ports are all really solid and give you some nice visual options such as a CRT shader that helps make the games look how they would have before the prevalence of flat-panel displays. Alongside that there are some scaling options including a 1:1 option as well as both stretched fullscreen and corrected aspect ratio scaling.
The fantastic Chris Huelsbeck soundtracks are intact and still sound fantastic. For us folk of a certain vintage they are extremely nostalgic and they had me humming away like a madman whilst dying repeatedly!
As a compilation Turrican Flashback is well put together although it’s a shame there isn’t a music player or perhaps a concept art collection. It missing Super Turrican 2 (as well as perhaps the 8-bit home versions of the first two titles) also feels like a missed opportunity to make it the definitive collection for fans, but what is here is well presented and is well worth playing in 2021.
Turrican Flashback (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A great collection of legitimate classics that are still fantastic fun to play. If you enjoy run and gun games and have never played the Turrican games this is the best way to experience them today.