So here we are again with the Turrican Anthology. We’ve already looked at the excellent -if a little empty – Vol I so now it’s time to look at the games contained within the second volume.
As before, I’ll give a brief rundown of what the package has to offer as a whole and then evaluate the individual titles contained within.
Many thanks to the publisher for the review code.
THE RETURN OF MR TURRICAN
The second part of the anthology, Turrican Anthology Vol. II, includes Turrican 3, Mega Turrican, Mega Turrican: Director’s Cut, Super Turrican 2, and Super 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 invaluable map is the best addition that enhances every game by a massive degree.
TURRICAN 3 / MEGA TURRICAN / MEGA TURRICAN DIRECTOR’S CUT
The reason I’m lumping all three of these together is because the regular and Director’s Cut of Mega Turrican are near identical to one another, and Turrican 3 is essentially the Amiga port of the Mega Drive game. As such, I’ll go over Mega Turrican and then talk about how Turrican 3 compares.
Mega Turrican is the only title I was familiar with prior to going into the anthology duology. It ranked as one of my favourite games on the Mega Drive, even though I was never able to beat it. Going back to the game now was like a huge burst of nostalgia and reminded me why I fell in love with the game in the first place.
For those who didn’t read the previous review, Mr Turrican is armed with a gun that can only be shot horizontally. This would normally be a problem for a run ‘n’ gun title, but he also has access to different weapon variants. He has a powerful green blaster, a red spreadshot, and a blue rebound gun that fires both horizontally and vertically, with shots bouncing across the surfaces they hit. Aside from his gun, he also has access to a limited use bomb and a mine-laying morph ball. With this arsenal at his disposal, the robotic and alien threats that await him don’t stand a chance. Well, they stand a bit of a chance because the game is pretty tough.
Combat is streamlined quite well in this game, and our hero controls better than ever. Shot types are colour coded, making it easier to tell what you are picking up, and enemy designs are far better than before as they take older designs and just make them better in both design and with their attack patterns. Combat feels a lot fairer than before, whilst also being quite hectic too.
Levels have seen a huge transformation too, shifting away from the complex mazes of the earlier titles and becoming relatively linear. There are still lots of secrets, and the stages are hardly small, but there’s little chance of you getting lost or running out of time. To make up for the linearity, level design has been vastly improved to include far more interesting platforming challenges. There are themed obstacles for the types of levels, as well as many platforms for you to use your grappling hook on. That’s right, Mega Turrican adds a momentum-based grapple to the game! It’s as fun as it sounds but it does take some getting used to.
The game is arguably the best in the series, and I’d say also contains the most enjoyable boss fights too. The Alien levels are still a drag as they’ve always been, but it’s a small hiccup in an otherwise fantastic game.
The Amiga version, Turrican 3, is largely the same but the visuals and audio have that Amiga feeling to them. No doubt those nostalgia for the console will prefer that version, but I found the Mega Drive version far more pleasant. My main gripe with the Amiga version is that the scrolling doesn’t seem particularly smooth, and it makes the game quite off-putting to play through. It’s still a decent version though, and it’s nice to have for the Amiga fans out there.
SUPER TURRICAN 2
Going into Super Turrican 2, I expected it to be very similar to the first Super Turrican but a bit more of it. Boy, was I wrong!
Gameplay wise, Super Turrican 2 bears more of a resemblance to Mega Turrican than its predecessor thanks to the nclusion of the ‘cyber arm’ – a tool that functions similarly to the grapple, but allows you to cling to and climb up walls too. Levels are also far more linear than even Mega Turrican and the cyber arm functions as a way to make these levels a bit more interesting.
Platforming is only part of what you’ll be doing, however, as this game likes to throw pretty much everything at you. Taking notes from Earthworm Jim 2, this game has so many levels that aren’t platforming at all and instead focus on something else entirely. Even the first level shifts into a section that has you controlling a buggy across the sand dunes while shooting down enemy robots. Add to that underwater sections, shmup sections, 3D biking sections (!), and more and you have one very ambitious title. Not every gimmick lands perfectly, but a surprising number do. It’s extremely impressive.
Add to that some excellent boss encounters that are good enough to rival Mega Turrican and you have one of the best games in the series. At least, almost…
Unfortunately, the game is also marred by various bugs that only seem to exist in the anthology version and not in the original release. There are audio bugs, including one level where the music just… stops, and a major glitch involving the Cyber Arm. For some unknown reason, occasionally it just locks up and won’t allow you to do anything. If you’re hit or use the wheel, you can free yourself but you lack the ability to jump or use your cyber arm again. Considering the cyber arm is absolutely essential for many parts of the game, it renders it almost unplayable. The rewind function allows you to revert to before it happens, allowing you to try and avoid getting stuck again, but I found that this same thing happened repeatedly and caused endless frustration.
I really enjoyed my time with Super Turrican 2, mainly due to how experimental it is, but I will likely never replay it ever again unless the development team patch this problem. It’s hard to enjoy such creativity when you’re constantly plagued by such a major glitch.
SUPER TURRICAN: SCORE ATTACK
The final game in Vol. II is the Score Attack variant of Super Turrican. Much like the one for Mega Turrican, this utilises the same mechanics found in the first, but in a huge level designed solely for this ‘game’. It’s only one level, and takes less than ten minutes to beat, but it’s still a lot of fun for what it is.
Unlike the previous anthology title, this score attack mode is fine to stand on its own without the base game alongside it. Compared to the other two games in this package, Super Turrican is far simpler to get to grips with. We have the freeze beam instead of the grapple hook, and that’s something that is never really necessary to use at all in this title. As such, you’ll be doing some relatively straightforward platforming while blasting everything that gets in your way.
This cut-back gameplay style is as fun as ever, but the lack of grapple makes the platforming far less rewarding. Considering the focus on combat, having a boss or two thrown in to spice things up would have probably been a good idea. As it is, it’s a fun diversion but there’s little to it.
With the second anthology collection, you’re looking at three versions of Mega Turrican, a broken version of Super Turrican 2, and a quick diversion based on Super Turrican. As much as I adore Mega Turrican, that alone isn’t enough to provide enough value to this already slim package. If they can patch Super Turrican 2 to make it playable, you’ll be looking at the two best games in the series together – which makes the price a tad more palatable for Turrican fans.