Before Factor 5 delivered some of the best Star Wars games to ever grace a console, they had made a name for themselves with a series known as Turrican. Part side-scroller, part bullet-hell, the series had the simple premise of the titular mutant hero thwarting evil from various planets. But behind the easy-to-follow narrative was one of the toughest games of old, with the kind of difficulty that’d even make the likes of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Battletoads shake in their boots.
Now over 30 years since its first game graced a Commodore 64, ININ Games has delivered a four-pack of these classics in the form of Turrican Flashback. Consisting of Turrican, Turrican 2, Mega Turrican, and Super Turrican, these four titles will just give newcomers an understanding of the series’s importance. For fans of the original, it’s a welcoming return to one of the greatest run-and-gun franchises around.
The hero Turrican has a lot in common with the Doom Slayer in DOOM, as they seem to care less about back stories and reasons. There’s evil afoot, and they want to crush it under their steel-toed boots. Each game is similar in premise and layout, as you roam around each level and world shooting up aliens, robots, and other fiendish concoctions. Your main weapon is your blaster, but as you play through each game, you’ll discover new power-ups and even brand-new maneuvers that don’t appear in past games.
One of the things that makes Turrican tough is its nonstop onslaught of enemies. As soon as you press the Start button, the hero is walloped by foes on the ground, on the walls, and in the sky. Almost every moment is spent shooting everything in front of and above them. Mess up even slightly, and it’ll cost you a huge chunk of health! (In one instance, I watched as a ground enemy made my full health sink down to nearly nothing simply by walking through me.)
Another thing about the Turrican games is its way of leading its players in blindly to their fullest potential. You think all you have is your guns and jumping mechanics, but then a slip of the fingers reveals other powers like grappling hooks (Mega Turrican) and freeze rays (Super Turrican). Suddenly, a game that seems impossible to conquer becomes one that’s...only nearly impossible to conquer.
To be blunt, the Turrican series features some of the hardest games to ever be developed! You may find yourself stuck on the first level for quite some time because of just how rough of a road this series has paved. Health will shrink fast, enemies will come out of the blue, and even the slightest slip of a jump can result in instant death. In fact, it’s only when a boss battle or even a mid-boss battle occurs when there’s some sigh of relief from getting pummeled, even if these villains also pack some serious heat!
Fortunately, ININ Games has gone the Nintendo Switch Online route with Turrican Flashback. Players can save their progress at any point, which comes in handy whenever new threats appear out of nowhere. There’s also a handy little menu that’ll give players the cheats for all four titles, giving players more ammo, health, and — the sweetest of all — infinite lives! (No need to scourge the internet for these helpful codes, that’s for certain!)
- Four excellent Turrican installments
- Loads of great power-ups
- Save functions come in handy
- Still tough-as-nails to beat
Although it may not come up as much in conversation as Metroid or Contra, Turrican still deserves some sort of recognition in the run-and-gun discussion. Turrican Flashback makes that case with the four difficult-yet-fun games it has packing. Although Factor 5 and original publisher Rainbow Arts may have gone the way of the dodo, perhaps ININ Games themselves could one day pick up where they left off and give fans a proper Turrican follow-up somewhere down the time.
Promotional consideration provided by Derek Reeve of PR Hound. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.