Turrican Flashback Review

Last year’s physical collection of the classic 16-bit shooter Turrican series might be mightily appealing for fans, bundling 10 Turrican games with art books and CDs, but at nearly £80 for the whole lot it was pretty expensive. So it’s nice that ININ Games have decided to release a digital version at a lower price, albeit severely cut down in scope.

The Turrican Flashback collection contains four games, the Amiga versions of Turrican and it’s sequel, plus two pseudo sequel / prequels, Mega Turrican for the Sega Mega Drive and Super Turrican for the SNES. They are all direct ports of the original games without any new graphics options or improved sound. They’re all exactly the same as they were thirty years ago and depending on your age that’s either going to be a good or a bad thing.

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All four games follow the same basic design: you play as a robotic character running and jumping around a scrolling landscape, shooting enemies, grabbing power ups, defeating bosses and uncovering secret areas. Influenced by the likes of Contra, Mega Man and Metroid, Turrican became an instant hit on home computers, grabbing high scores for it’s energetic gameplay and thumping soundtrack, and unlike many other games of that age, they still hold up pretty well in 2021.

As you might expect, Turrican looks the most basic of the collection, with solid sheets of colour in the background and fairly simple enemy design. Each level is remarkably large, packed with secrets areas that can only be accessed by perfectly timed jumps or by transforming in to a indestructible death wheel. There are leaps of faith, Mario-style hidden power blocks, and a good selection of weapons including the famous beam, a large laser sword that you can rotate round your hero (although this is quite fiddly to control on a DualSense). It is, like its successor and indeed most games of that age, incredibly hard, forcing the player to learn the maps and know exactly when and where the enemies spawn.

Turrican 2 takes all the elements from the original and improves on it, from the graphics to the weapons – the game really pushed the Amiga to it’s limits and still looks and plays really well today. It also includes shoot ’em up style levels in which you pilot a spaceship to break up the running and jumping.

Moving on to the console versions and although the look even better than Turrican 2, adding parallax scrolling, transparency, and even weather effects, the gameplay is less about exploration and rather more linear. Both Super Turrican and Mega Turrican are more running and gunning than exploration, although Mega Turrican replaces the beam weapon with a grappling hook to help you get around the levels.

All four games are replicated perfectly, to the point where you can even use the original cheat codes, but to help those who have not experienced the bastard hard gameplay found in all games of the era, you can use a rewind function function. This cunningly rewinds the game a few seconds which means you can stop the game just after death, skip back a few frames and restart, dodging whatever bullet finished you off. You can also save your game at any point, a feature I would have killed for thirty years ago, but using any of these features disables trophies. If you want to collect them you are going to have play the game exactly as you would have thirty years ago.

To transport you back to the 90’s there are a bunch of filters and screen options to alter edge curvature, add scan lines, or tweak RGB vales, or you can expand the display to modern day widescreen. You can also change the sound mix. The Amiga only had four channels of sound, so you have the drums and bass coming out of the left speaker and the melody and sound effects coming out of the right, but this new feature allows you to merge these so you can appreciate Chris Huelsbeck’s amazing soundtrack.

Unfortunately that’s your lot when it comes to extras. the Directors Cut and score attack modes found in the expensive collectors edition are not included.

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Summary
As a port, the Turrican Flashback collection cannot be faulted – these are perfect conversions of some all-time greats. Although the collection is missing some of the others in the series, £7.50 per game isn't bad value and given the difficulty, getting a perfect run is going to take many hours of playtime.
Good
  • Perfect conversions
  • Classic soundtracks
  • Proper old school arcade action
Bad
  • Steep learning curve
  • Stiff controls
  • No score attack or boss rush modes
8
Written by
News Editor, very inappropriate, probs fancies your dad.

1 Comment

  1. Turrican was one of my favourites on Amiga, one concern is that when these games were designed, 8-way directional joysticks were the norm and they ‘clicked’ so you had that tactile feedback when you needed the joystick to be in a certain position to effect a particular button combo etc. My other concern is that i no longer have the synapses/response of the fourteen yr old me that originally played this :D
    I’m tempted but with plenty in my gaming library atm i’ll wait another while.

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