Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

[Review] Turrican Flashback

By Elly Oak Jan27,2021
Developed By: Factor 5 (Original games), Ratalaika Games (ports)
Published By: ININ Games
Categories: Retro, Shooter, Compilation
Release Date: 01.29.21

When people think of the Amiga and it’s standout games, Factor 5’s work on the Turrican series. And for good reason. For Amiga games, the Turrican games are practically shoulder to shoulder with it’s shooter contemporaries on the SNES and Genesis with spritework and animation. That said, the Amiga wasn’t exactly a big hit in the United States or Japan. Luckily there were a handful of original console games made that would be brought to those regions. Turrican Flashback is the latest in retro compilations brought out with ININ in the publishing seat. The bundle developed by Ratalaika Games holds Turrican and Turrican 2 from the Amiga as well as Mega Turrican from the Genesis/Mega Drive and Super Turrican from the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom. A nice taste of the Amiga games and some of the console games. Lets discuss each of the four games.

Before that though. Let’s explain a few things that these games all have in common. Lots of enemies. Lots of powerups. Shields, Spread Shots, Piercing Lasers, Bouncing Shots, a nice two way line shot that is incredibly powerful and is more practical as a screen clearer, and my favorite, rolling into a wheel destroying everything in your path and dropping bombs. You feel overpowered and it’s great. However, the concept of invincibility frames doesn’t seem to exist. While the levels are linear, they are very vast, something different to majority of games at the time. Outside of specific weapons, mainly a laser you need to be stationary to use, you won’t be able to aim. You can duck, you can jump, but you can’t aim. For the most part, the games never feel like they’re designed to need aiming thankfully and with weapons that can spread out or have option like properties, it’s taken care of. You’ll get lost at times, there’s reason to get lost though, as the levels are full of collectable gems, the previously mentioned powrups, and one ups.

It should be said though, the Turrican games are very Eurojank. Eurojank Contra is probably a good way to describe the series, ironic because Factor 5 would end up working on the Contra series. 16 Bit games always had their country of origin embedded into their DNA, which can be to a game’s detriment. Turrican feels like a European game entirely, especially in it’s music. And while opinions on how European games played back then are subjective, on thing that isn’t is how good the music in these games are.

Starting with Turrican, we have the first in the series and it shows. The levels are huge, the backgrounds are bare. Spirtes for everything else is great however. Everything feels so smooth, which with the game’s gigantic levels it’s impressive, especially on the Amiga. That said, the first Amiga seems more of a proof of concept, as…

Turrican 2 does what the first game does, better, and is much more impressive. It looks better and still is just as smooth. Despite levels being grander, I got lost less and felt more often like I was making progress. You now can find hidden blocks to grant your powerups, shoot into the air and you’ll occasionally see a platform, which holds them. Don’t shoot them too much or they’ll be gone for good and you won’t be able to get to certain places.

Mega Turrican, or how it’s named on the Amiga port (that was ironically released before Mega due to publishing issues, Turrican 3, is the first of the original console games. It’s more Turrican, which is good, though levels are more linear this time around. It now has a new ability with a grappling hook, which the levels are, to my dismay at times, designed around. It’s a little awkward to use, but I got used to it a few levels in. The game has one nasty little flaw that none of the other games in this collection have, the fact that shooting at bosses doesn’t make their sprite flash. You can’t tell if you’re hitting it properly outside of a quiet sound effect. Bosses take a lot of heat in these games, so it’s often a bit of a worry if you’re actually doing anything to it. For the Genesis/Mega Drive, the spritework and faux-Mode 7 at work is impressive. There’s cutscenes…of questionable “western anime” quality, but cutscenes were always a treat back then of anything more than text.

Last up, we have Super Turrican. Super is more of a best of in terms of levels from the first three games. A real good starting point for people new to the Turrican series in my opinion. Now you have a freeze beam to get enemies in place, making the adventure much easier. If you’re gonna play one game in the series, make it this one if only for getting a little taste of each of the games. And if you like the other games, it’s nice to just play the different levels quickly.

Lets discuss the collection as a whole now. The main menu is very, very no thrills. Not a dealbreaker, but it’s a tad disappointing when compared to efforts by M2 and Gotch. That said, once selecting a game, you get a nice little set of options. There’s a page for every game’s cheats. Controls are completely mappable, which is baffles me that some collections neglect to give the option to. Display option wise is where it gets a bit fun. The typical aspect ratio options like fullscreen, 4:3, 1:1 all of which have scaling options, and then sprite perfect, which has no scaling. A handful of wallpapers that can be turned off or dimmed. A highly customizable shader, which I will probably never use as I’m not one for shaders, but adore the amount of things you can fiddle with for it. A color option, which is a fascinating as it is confusing to me. Wanna play in Black and White, sure. Green and purples or Blue and Yellow. Go for it. On top of all of that, the emulation allows for a rewind feature in addition to save states. Two issues plague this set as a whole. The first has to do with games kind of having quite a bit of a load initially, which if there was anything besides a black screen, it wouldn’t be an issue. The second issue is that I’ve had a decent handful of crashes while playing. The first of which was immediately after save stating so I could change games, and another one that was especially egregious was just having the game crash when paused. Save state often. As someone who plays maybe too many retro compilations, I don’t mind the lack of bonuses in the form of a music players, art galleries, etc… It’s greatly appreciated when included, but it’s not expected.

Despite these issues, if you’re a new Turrican fan, you owe to yourself to buy this collection. Or if you’re a mega fan of the series, Strictly Limited Games has two sets of collections with more games such as Super Turrican 2, the Amiga Turrican 3, directors cuts, and challenge editions under the Turrican Anthology line. Flashback is definitely going to be the more accessible and cheaper option, very much like how ININ previously had Space Invaders Forever and SLG had Invincible Collection. For those interested in those more premium sets, I’ll leave a link where to buy them, but do keep in mind it’s 35 Euro per volume, and there’s two.


Buy Now: $29.99



*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes

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