Today’s game is one that I’ve been deliberately holding out on for quite a while, as it’s often seen as an overlooked gem in the retro gaming community. That’s right, gather up your laser rifles and get ready to fry some evil-doers, cause today we’re going to take a look at Factor 5/Rainbow Arts’ Turrican.
Originally developed for the Commodore 64 by Manfred Trenz and later released for several other consoles afterwards, the game’s story revolves around the exploits of the titular robotic mutant warrior as he does battle against the diabolical MORGUL, and free the planet of Alterra from his non-existent clutches. But is this truly a diamond in the rough, or nothing more than a pile of scrap metal? Let’s find out, shall we?
THE LOOKS – Okay, normally I tend not to focus too much on a game’s title screen, but…GOOD LORD, that has got to be the most epic title screen to a retro game ever. Like, I could literally stare at it for hours. Other than that, the rest of the game’s graphics are…decent, I suppose. While they’re not as detailed or stunning as the title screen, they still have some amount of polish and do a pretty good job of giving us the imagery that we’re in a world that’s unlike ours. In terms of character sprites and animations, they actually look and move really good. Even if you take in the possibility that most of the game’s already limited budget was spent on the title screen alone, the graphics are still above-average for a side-scrolling action game.
THE SOUND – With an awesome title screen and decent graphics to back it up already, it’s important that this game exceeds in the sound department as well. Thankfully, it manages to do just that. Similar to what you would normally hear in a 1980’s action film or tv show, the game’s soundtrack is composed of synthesizer sounds and melodies. However, it never really gets to the point where it’s annoying or boring. The synthesizers, along with the graphics, also help to give the game a more “otherworldly” feel to it. But then again, like I said in my Superfrog review “One thing that a lot of computer games have in common is good music”.
Here I am, just minding my own business and-OH MY GOD A GIANT FISH.
THE GAMEPLAY – Something that this game has often been described as is a mixture between the 2D Metroid games and a rather obscure arcade shooter called Psycho-Nics-Oscar. And going back and looking at those two games and this back and forth, I can definetely agree. Getting the level design out of the way first, it’s actually really impressive. It has a a clear and linear path to follow, but it manages to be really wide and open, with plenty of enemies to fire at, as well as tons of ammo as well as other weapons to discover and find despite the time limit as you platform throughout the stages. The controls are also pretty good, even though they’re not quite as defined as other games that were coming out at the time. However, there is one major issue I have with this game, and it’s the fact that you can die a bit too quickly. Sure, you do have a lot of weapons at your disposal, but when the enemies tend to be as sproadic and unpredictable as they are, there really isn’t any need for a health meter by the end of the day.
THE BOTTOM LINE – Turrican has its strengths, but it ultimately isn’t refined as its’ follow-ups or its’ competition. While I would recommend this to computer gamers, I’m not quite sure if platform fans will go nuts for it.