Return of the space warrior.
After a three-decade hiatus, classic action platformer Turrican is back thanks to ININ Games. Leaning on the original development talent of Factor 5, Turrican Flashback remasters and upgrades four titles from the series on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. This new collection includes the game that started it all, Turrican, along with sequels Turrican II: The Final Fight, Mega Turrican and Super Turrican. While this is not every release in the series, there’s certainly a lot of game bundled into the package that should appeal to fans and retro heads.
What’s it all about then?
Turrican first graced our screens in the early ’90s and was developed for the Commodore 64 before being ported across to several other platforms of the era. For me personally, it was on my beloved Amiga where the series first drew my attention. It even managed a release on Nintendo’s Game Boy and while it was a slightly different proposition the core gameplay remained intact. Often likened to the Metroid series, minus the puzzles, Turrican placed a big emphasis on exploration of, what was at the time, big-open world levels and collecting upgrades and power-ups. And that’s not the only parallel to be drawn from Samus as our warrior can quickly transform into a ball and roll the hell out of dodge.
The story follows our titular hero, a bio-engineered space warrior, being sent on a mission to reclaim the long lost world of Alterra from an evil force who has filled the lands with nasties. We know there’s more to it than that across the four titles but you get the gist as the sequels follow the same formula. The gameplay is very much of its era, fast run and gun action as you blast your way across each stage. Jumping from platform to platform can be fiddly resulting in mistimed manoeuvres and invisible walls getting in the way – honestly, it’s not just my reaction speed is dwindling.
Getting lost can be overwhelming, dead ends and backtracking feature high on the agenda and just when you think you are on track a massive boss will be lurking on the next screen to take a pop. Attack patterns are easy to pick up but hard to master, all while being set against a timer.
How does Turrican hold up?
Surprisingly well. Controls work well and the visual still holds its own compared with newer pixel titles. The worlds look great, with detailed and vibrant backdrops that contrast our suited near monotone protagonist. The creature design is out of this world with a varied and distinctive cast of villains to defeat, while most take only a few hits to defeat there is a difficulty that means you’ll die a lot and get to see them all over again.
As you progress through the games, it is clear to see the visual upgrades as the development teams really got to grips with the series and adapted to improved hardware. For me, Turrican II is the highlight of the series, not only in the visual department but also importantly in the way it plays.
‘Flashback’ is well assembled then?
Yes. Each of the games has received several upgrades and quality of life improvements. The four titles look and perform better than ever, which you would expect running on today’s hardware. While the package doesn’t offer the full bells and whistles we’d have hoped for it does provide the option to tweak borders, play around with different screen filters and notably adds a save and rewind feature. The last one alone is probably the best addition in this release as the difficulty curve can be steep compared to modern offerings in the genre that give a hand-holding approach.
Turrican Flashback is another solid effort at bringing back a cherished franchise to a modern audience, something that is commonplace but doesn’t always seem warranted. Visuals are bright and the gameplay is as fun and difficult as we remember. While the omission of some titles in the series is perplexing the ‘Flashback’ collection is undoubtedly a reasonable addition for any retro gaming fans if a little on the pricey side.
Review code provided
Platform: Nintendo, PlayStation
Release Date: 29/01/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Platformer, Arcade
Developer: Factor 5
Publisher: ININ Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop