Game: Turrican Flashback
Genre: Action, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (also PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Factor 5, Ratalaika Games | ININ Games
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Teen
Price: US $29.99 | UK £24.99 | EU €29,99
Release Date: January 29th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to PR Hound
The Turrican series was quite a big deal when I was a young person growing up in ye old days of gaming also known as the 90s. I still have my original copy of Turrican for the Mega Drive even if the cardboard box it sits in is looking a little shabby these days. While many retro series have been revived to modern consoles, Turrican has been left in the retro gaming void waiting for its moment. Well, that time has come! Turrican Flashback is a collection of four classic Turrican retro games ready to be enjoyed by old and new fans alike on modern systems. The Switch in particular feels like a great place to enjoy these classics.
What is Turrican?
Turrican are tough but highly enjoyable 2D side-scrolling shooters. If you’re new to the series I’ll give you a quick breakdown. Basically, you play as a robot looking man with a big gun, on a quest to take down the big bad. It’s retro gaming 101. What makes Turrican stand out from the crowd back then and arguable today is the games have excellent soundtracks, tight shooting controls and offer plenty of challenge.
As well as your gun you have plenty of special moves at your disposal. There’s a sort of ray gun that can destroy environments and help deal massive damage to enemies. A familiar morph ball move which damages any enemy silly enough to come into contact with you, you can also use mines when in this form. There are also plenty of weapons to discover and power-ups to find. These are usually hidden in blocks which when shot or jumped on from below (like Mario) will gush out multiple powerups. Since this is a shooty bang bang game expect plenty of enemies and enormous boss fights. It’s all very satisfying and has this unique metal look to its design which makes it feel unique.
The Featured Games
The Turrican Flashback collection features two Amiga games, a Mega Drive title and a Super Nintendo title.
Starting off the collection we have Turrican the Amiga version. Like with all new IP entries, the franchise was finding its feet here. The shooting is fun, but you die super quickly in this game. Items like your morph ball were also quite restricted, so you had to use your abilities sparingly and at the right time. This title is always to me best remembered as the Turrican game with the giant metal fist boss. Back then game bosses were just as ridiculous as they were entertaining.
Turrican 2 is also an Amiga game and maybe the title most gamers will be familiar with. It’s similar to the first game but with a lot more refinement to the gameplay mechanics. The levels are still massive encouraging you to explore to find the route through. Abilities are less restricted and the game just seems to flow so much better. Some may argue this was when the series was at its peak.
Mega Turrican is the Mega Drive entry. This version of the game was designed specifically for the console making for a more linear experience. People new to the series may find this an easier title to start from. This was easily one of the best looking Mega Drive games for the system as a whole. The action comes thick and fast with little room to get lost in the levels like the Amiga entries. You also have a grappling hook in this game to help you jump to higher platforms using an awkward swing mechanic.
Super Turrican is the Super Nintendo Game and was also designed specifically with the console in mind. This feels like the nicest looking entry. And I realize saying that will make Amiga fans very mad. It’s a more linear experience and for a weird reason, your ray gun has now been swapped for an ice beam which just doesn’t pack the punch of the previous entries.
If there is one thing I can confidently say is that none of the games in the collection feels weak or worth ignoring. It was easy for me to get lost in any entry of this fine series. My only critique is this collection doesn’t feature all the Turrican games in the series, but that seems to be the norm these days with retro collections.
The Turrican Flashback collection adds plenty of features to each of the games. You can tweak various display settings and filters and if you want to get the old CRT scanlines you can have that. Whether you prefer to experience it on your TV or in handheld mode you have that choice. There are also multiple save states per game and a handy rewind feature which seems to be becoming the gold standard in retro game ports today. Die too quickly? You can tap the shoulder button and watch the action quickly rewind so you can correct your mistake. Yes, the retro game purists will scoff at this feature but it is great to allow folk looking for a less stressful experience to enjoy. In the main menu, each game has a small blurb which allows you to learn a little about the history of each title. It’s a shame there aren’t more making of videos or a menu to let you just enjoy the soundtracks.
Flashback to the Retro Days
Turrican Flashback is a great way to enjoy four fantastic retro games. The extra features and various display options and rewind are most welcome and each game runs great on the Nintendo Switch. Some titles are sadly absent in this collection but what is present is solid.
Whether you’re new or old to the Turrican series, this is a great place to jump in, rather than hunting down the original copies of the games and hardware.
Because where Turri-can…you can!
Final Verdict: I liked it a lot
One trouble with the Turrican Flashback collection is it may cause some confusion to gamers who also heard about the Turrican Anthology collections 1 & 2 announced last year. The later collection features 8 Turrican games in total and appears to be limited to just physical release only. Whereas the Turrican Flashback collection reviewed here is releasing both physical and digital. It’s weird how we seem to be returning to physical media to obtain exclusive games. So much for the digital future. It’s sad to see some Turrican games restricted to gamers via an exclusive and expensive physical version rather than making it available for everyone. But I guess that’s how things are for now. This is not a critique at Turrican Flashback, but more a critique of the gaming industry confusing its audience and gating of folk happy to spend money on digital purchases.