ININ have a bizarre business model when it comes to collections. Two years ago, they announced a jam-packed physical edition for Turrican, comprised of Turrican Anthology Vol. 1 & Vol 2. Not only did it come with loads of physical goodies, but the games themselves included various variants too. The only real omission was Universal Soldier, a reskin of Turrican 2 designed to tie in with the film of the same name.
A digital collection was later announced, titled Turrican Flashback, that saw a release at the start of 2021. It lacked the variants, which is fine, but it also lacked one of the main entries – Super Turrican 2. A baffling omission, and one that mirrors the recent Wonder Boy Collection which was also devoid of certain key entries.
Here we are, a year and a half later and we now have both Anthologies released digitally on the eshop… but as two separate releases. The two together create one complete experience, but you’ll need both for the true Turrican experience. Considering the individual price for one is higher than the base price of Turrican Flashback, it has a lot to do to prove its worth.
Many thanks to the publisher for the review code.
ROCK ME LIKE A TURRICAN
The first part of the anthology, Turrican Anthology Vol. 1, includes Turrican, Turrican II: The Final Fight, Super Turrican, Super Turrican Director’s Cut, and Mega Turrican Score Attack. Each game has access to a brand new map function that can be accessed with a click of the right thumbstick; as well as rewind, save functionality, a multitude of control settings, and many more visual and audio options. There’s also an achievement system here too that give you certain targets to achieve, which are nice but also something that’s easy to forget about. It’s a nice array of options, but the map is definitely the key addition as it proves invaluable for every single game in the series.
As normal for collections, I’ll cover each game individually and provide a mini review giving my thoughts as to how fun each one is.
I was excited to dive into the original Turrican, having only ever played Mega Turrican before. Set on the colony of Alterra, all humanity has been destroyed. The colonists created an AI known as MORGUL to make the planet habitual, but treacherous weather affected the systems resulting in it rebelling and wiping everyone out. Humanity created a genetic mutant, the titular Mr Turrican, to reclaim the planet using the power of guns.
The story isn’t really much of a focus during the actual game, so all of that really amounts to is just ‘space guy shoots robots’. That’s fine considering the shooting is actually a lot of fun. It plays a little bit like Contra, except with far more open environments that are packed with secrets. The earlier levels are relatively straightforward, but their designs become far more complex and you’ll run into lots of dead ends. Thankfully the map system works a treat here as you can use it to get a view of your surroundings and hazard a guess at where to head to next.
In addition to your standard gun (which can be upgraded to a stronger laser or spreadshot), you also have access to some stronger limited use weapons that deal heavy damage. Powerups can be found to restore ammo and grant you extra lives – something you will definitely need considering the game’s difficulty.
Overall, I had a good time with Turrican. It looks pretty decent for an early platformer, and the music is absolutely excellent. Some of the later levels get a little obnoxious, and the game’s lack of i-frames or hit feedback can make dying pretty easy, but it’s a solid start to the franchise.
TURRICAN II: THE FINAL FIGHT
The sequel has quite a reputation, so I was looking forward to giving it a shot. From the offset, the game goes all in with larger labyrinthine maps that give off some serious Metroid vibes. Much like the later stages in the original, I found myself worrying about the time limit more than anything.
The action is still somewhat the same, but with some slight tweaks. Your bombs and mines are now gone, but your laser shot has far more utility thanks to some additional powerups. The most notable of which is the bounce shot, which send your bullets flying everywhere. It’s really satisfying and can make some sections of the game and bosses a breeze. The action feels far more satisfying and streamlined than before, which compliments the improved level design and boss battles too. The later stages in particular are a huge improvement to the frustrating levels found towards the end of the original and end the game on a high note.
One thing that really caught me by surprise was the addition of a side scrolling shmup section during the middle third of the game. It’s far from being a minor inclusion and is…. fine. The game suffers from the same lack of i-frames, and it is extremely noticeable here. The problem is that the walls lack any kind of collision, meaning that you pass straight through them whilst taking an extraordinary amount of damage. Having wall collision that causes damage but stops you from passing through it would have been far better, especially during the second shmup stage, which moves around erratically in a way that reminded me of ‘The Machine’ from Ecco the Dolphin.
I wasn’t sure about the game at first, but the later stages made the game more enjoyable than the original title. The music here is also even better, and the remastered soundtrack is absolutely banging.
SUPER TURRICAN / SUPER TURRICAN: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT
I had initially planned to cover these as two entries, but honestly there wouldn’t be much extra I could say. The Director’s Cut is largely the same as the original, but with some extra cut content added. The catch? It also seems to be a prototype version, as the game has various missing effects and graphical issues. I’m not sure why they didn’t spend the extra time polishing it up using the assets from the original release, but it results in a game that may be more complete but unfortunately less polished.
But how is the game itself? Well, it’s pretty good. It plays similarly to Turrican II, albeit with more straightforward levels. Powerups now are colour coded, but you still have the same arsenal as before; the only exception is that your beam attack is now able to freeze enemies for a short time, requiring you to go in close to get the kill.
The major change for me is that Turrican now actually has some slight knockback and invincibility frames on getting hit, which makes the gameplay much more enjoyable. It’s a shame then that the level design seems to fluctuate from genius levels, like a bone train where you platform and avoid passing ghouls – to obnoxious stages where it seems to be near impossible to hit stuff without getting hit.
On a positive note, the soundtrack is still on top form and the bosses are the best they’ve ever been. Whilst none are them are tough to fight, I found that they were all immensely entertaining – it’s such a shame then that the last boss is missing it’s damage animation in the Director’s Cut, making me confused as to how I had to fight it … until it just blew up.
MEGA TURRICAN: SCORE ATTACK
The final game in the package, is also somewhat of an anomaly. Rather than including the proper Mega Turrican (the only game I’m familiar with), instead they throw in a score attack variant. Despite sounding like it’ll basically be the same as the main game, that is actually very far from the truth. Score Attack is a very different game.
Taking the gameplay mechanics of Mega Turrican and the theming of the first level, Score Attack sees you using your platforming skills to reach the top of a pretty large level. Functionally the mechanics are similar to Super Turrican, but with some important differences. There are still a few weapon variants at your disposal, but each one acts a little differently. The spreadshot is the one that has seen the least amount of change, but it seems to hit a little harder than before; the blue laser shot is now a pretty large blast that still deals hefty damage; and the rebound shot now fires vertical and horizontal shots albeit a little less bouncy. These small changes make each one feel pretty useful in their own way and feel like a true refinement of the previous iteration.
The biggest change, however, is the replacement of your 360º laser beam attack. Instead of your laser, instead you have an extendable grappling hook that gives you some much needed mobility. It’s a real game changer once you get used to it, and allows for some more complex platforming compared to previous entries.
Score Attack requires mastery of the grapple hook to navigate as some of the platforming can be pretty tricky and precise. It’s fun, but more designed for people who are already familiar with Mega Turrican. Considering the main game is not included in this collection, I can imagine a lot of new players having a rough time with this one.
Turrican Anthology Vol. 1 contains some fantastic titles with a load of great quality of life improvements to boot. It’s a shame that they decided to split the pack, as this definitely feels like it’s missing something important. Nevertheless, Turrican fans will no doubt love re-experiencing these classics on modern hardware.