My Switch has sort of become the go to place for retro collections. Mega Man, Castlevania and Contra amongst others are all in place, with the most recent addition being Turrican Flashback. This one though is a little different. It’s the first of these retro games where I don’t have any previous experience. This is in fact my first time ever playing a Turrican game! They are certainly interesting.
The Turrican Flashback collection contains Turrican, Turrican 2, Mega Turrican and Super Turrican. For some reason Super Turrican 2 not included. It’s a game that was also removed from Virtual Console at some point which means perhaps it’s a licensing issue? Anyways, what you have here is your standard retro package. A few graphical options, a cheat menu that just straight up tells you what the cheats are in each game, a rewind gameplay feature and save states. Everything you’d expect from a collection, just don’t expect any extra bells and whistles.
Starting in chronological order then with the first Turrican. The first thing that I really took notice of was how open everything is. For what is essentially a scrolling shooter, there’s a lot of different paths you can take with extra lives and power ups hiding in every nook and cranny (and Mario style hidden blocks). What helps with the exploration is the jumping, it’s big and it’s beautiful, floating jumps make the game feel really great to play, even today.
What hasn’t aged so well is how you take damage. Your character doesn’t flicker, or get knocked back, there’s just a grating noise as your health depletes. And without what are essentially invincibility frames as you regroup, enemies can stay on you and your health continues to go down before you can get away. So before you know it your health can be almost completely depleted before you realise what’s happening. It makes what is already a difficult game, even harder. Thankfully you have those cheats on the main menu I previously mentioned if you want to just breeze past everything. This continues on to the other Amiga game in the collection – Turrican 2. The only major difference in this one being robotic voice over as you collect power ups and a bit of a visual upgrade.
The next game in the collection is Mega Turrican, which turned out to be my favourite. The game itself could not look anymore like a Mega Drive game! The whole styling has a more H.R. Giger feel to it, is more about shooting than exploration (something the blurb in the game is oddly honest about) and has some great explosion effects. The main new addition being a grappling hook, which can be used to swing from platforms. It’s probably the weakest bit of the game, but I can forgive it because the run and gun aspect is just so good.
Finally we have Super Turrican. And while Mega Turrican felt very 90’s Mega Drive, this too feels very 90’s Super Nintendo. The whole game has a lighter look to it, the grappling hook has been removed, but as far as level design goes, this is easily the worst. Like Mega Turrican this is also very linear compared to 1 and 2, but has some truly frustrating sections. None more so than in the snow levels where giant snowballs are being rolled around the map and you’re having to do pin point platforming or fall to your death. It doesn’t help that the jumping feels so much weaker than previous series entries. Out of all the games in this collection, this is the one I wanted to put down the most.
If there’s one aspect of all these games that carries on throughout as being top quality, it’s the music. There’s a reason when this game was being advertised it always said in big letters, “Chris Huelsbecks LEGENDARY soundtrack” because it’s great. Also, on top of that, every game has excellent checkpointing. In the first two Turrican games you literally just respawn on the same screen as you die, only it very nicely removes all the enemies so you don’t get ambushed straight away. Even the latter games only push you back a few seconds.
No doubt there are people out there who absolutely love Turrican who don’t care what a series newcomer says, and those people should absolutely go out and buy it. I mean, it’s those games! The absence of Super Turrican 2 is a weird one, but nevertheless you get 4 games that you’ll probably get your moneys worth out of. As a non-fan however, there are better collections out there that have seem to have aged a little better.