I haven’t had the privilege to enjoy any console prior to the NES or better known locally as the “Family Computer”, so admittedly Turrican is something that I’ve just heard of but have not had the pleasure of playing until recently. Growing up as a part of that generation, I have the tendency to appreciate old-school experiences, so this was something surprisingly welcome.
Turrican Flashback is basically a compilation of 4 Turrican games – Turrican, Turrican II: The Final Fight, Mega Turrican, and Super Turrican. The last title, Super Turrican, is the one I was familiar with but never played, since it released for the Super NES. Many of you who may be familiar with the series will wonder why Super Turrican 2, arguably the best game in the series as hailed by the majority, is missing. I’d ask the same thing myself, but as it stands, for $29.99, you get 4 games to satisfy your appetite for some old school shootin’.
Turrican is basically a platform shooter, where you collect powerups along the way that will change the way your weapon fires. I guess the easiest way to think about it, while comparing it to its contemporaries, is a Mega Man meets Contra. One power up turns your weapon into a cannon that bounces bullets, the next will allow you to cover a wider range, and so on. At some point you can even turn into a ball ala Metroid, so surely this game is one that can scratch a specific type of itch.
The one thing I liked about it is that it plays very fast, and it was something that I was not prepared for. I didn’t expect the responsive controls at all, so color me surprised to say that the game handles very well for its age. The levels are pretty bright ang vibrant despite its dated graphics, but you could just imagine this game bring one of the better looking games during its release 30 years ago. Obviously, Super Turrican was my favorite among the 4 being the most “modern”, but you can definitely see the progression from one game to another as the years went by even though the core gameplay is practically the same.
One of the aspects of the game that I liked the most was the soundtrack, which brought a 90’s vibe that was very much fitting of the fast-paced action. There’s just really something to these bleeps and bloops that really warms the heart, and when you consider the soundtrack made by a legend in the scene Chris Huelsbeck, it all the more adds to the satisfaction.
The compilation comes with the basic features that most of these collections come out with, but with the most critical one being the save states, which you normally wouldn’t find in releases of old. Of course, you may or may not need it, as each game takes between 2-3 hours to finish, so you can basically just open up the game and breeze through it during a session and pop back out. There’s also a cheats menu which literally tells you the cheats in the game should you choose to use them.
Turrican Flashback does have its faults, but basically minor nitpicks. For one, this collection is pretty hard to recommend at its current price of $29.99, basically $7.50 per game. That may seem like a steal, especially for fans of the series of for retrogamers, but considering the total price and the total hours of gameplay you get out of it, it seems a bit steep.
Another minor nitpick that’s somehow connected to the price is that Turrican Flashback is basically a barebones collection, and it feels like it was done just for the sake of. Some collections out there offer dev interviews or even art galleries of some sort, but this has nothing to make your money worth the spend.
Lastly, I personally found it hard to navigate through the levels because I keep getting surprised at the fact that instead of jumping on top of some pillars to get across them, I can simply walk past them. These obstacles are not clearly distinguishable, and while the experience is not game-breaking, it does provide for some head-scratching moments throughout. In some levels, it would even be hard to find your character in between all the projectiles and everything else happening on screen.
What we liked:
- Great soundtrack and gameplay
- Responsive controls
What we didn’t like:
- Steep price point for what it has
- Games are fundamentally the same with very little variance
- Could have added the other games to make the price tag well worth it
Verdict: Wait for it… (to go on sale)
Overall, Turrican Flashback is a release for fans of the series, and may be overlooked by newcomers due to its slightly expensive price tag. Sure, you get 4 games for it, but each of these games will simply take a couple of hours and change to finish, and compared to similarly priced titles that give you more value, it’s quite the tough sell.
Nevertheless, if you’ve ever wanted to play one of the titles that defined the genre back in the day, Turrican Flashback is a collection that might be worth looking into.
*Turrican Flashback was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch via a review code provided by the publisher.