The Turrican series is renowned for its high technical achievement when it was current. It was also noted for its fun, non-linear gameplay. Upon seeing the game for sale for $8 on the Wii Virtual Console as well as the positive reception, I took it upon myself to purchase it and I have no regrets. Although the first game in the series was ported to the Genesis around 1991, Super Turrican is one of the first games in the series that was developed exclusively for a home console. In 1995, it was followed by a sequel, Super Turrican II. Since this is the 1st and only Turrican game that I’ve played, I can’t compare it to other games in the series.
The gameplay for Super Turrican is great. It has the feel of a run n’ gun game with non-linear level design thrown in. By non-linear level design, I mean that the levels are HUGE and have multiple hidden paths and secrets for you to uncover. The levels even have multiple parts to them. Unfortunately, there’s a time limit which curbs your exploration.
Your character has some pretty nifty weapons to use. For starters, your basic gun can be upgraded in three ways: It can either fire spread shots, laser shots (they have a high rate of fire, but don’t have as much vertical range as the spread shot), and bounce shots (these shots will bounce off walls, making it handy for small spaces). If that’s not enough, your gun can also fire a freeze beam by holding the X button. The freeze beam doesn’t kill enemies, but can immobilize them for a few seconds, making it handy for when a lot of enemies are on-screen. You can fire a “smart line” by pressing A, which fires 2 shockwaves from both sides of yourself, killing all enemies that touch it. However, the smart line’s height depends on what stuff is above or below you. Furthermore, it can’t pass through walls. Last, but not least, you can morph into an energy wheel by pressing down and B. You can drop mines in the ground and bombs from the air as well as go in small passages while you are in this form. You are also invincible against many enemy attacks. If the energy bar runs out (it’s below the health bar), you revert to your normal form (you can also manually revert by pressing B).
All the weapons in the game feel balanced and each of them can really work well in certain situations. The difficulty of this game is pretty high and certain parts of the game could possibly make some people tear their hair out in frustration. For example, in the beginning of the 1st stage, you have to make your way past some platforms and pits while high winds push you back and lightning threatens to strike you when you least expect it. It takes great reflexes and patience to get through the tough parts of the game without dying too much, so be sure to look for hidden lives. The biggest problem that I have with this game is the lack of a password feature. This game is pretty hard and if you use up all of your continues, you’ll have to start all over again. The levels can be pretty long as well.
In terms of graphics, the game isn’t too bad. Most enemies in this game are pretty small, but the bosses are HUGE. There’s a neat usage of Mode-7 early on in the game in which one of the 1st stage mini-bosses (a giant, robotic fist) fills most of the screen when you first encounter it. Once destroyed, it shrinks away into nothingness while exploding. The backgrounds aren’t too special, but a few are pretty detailed. There’s SOME lag in this game, but it’s not too bad to the point where it severely hampers the enjoyment of the game. Overall, I think the graphics could have been done a bit better, but they’re not too bad.
The music in this game just rocks. It’s composed by Chris Hülsbeck, who also composed the music for The Great Giana Sisters, the C64 and Amiga versions of R-Type, and even the Star Wars Rogue Squadron games. Some people say that the music in this game isn’t as good compared to Mega Turrican’s music or even the music of the Turrican games on the Amiga, but to be honest, I’ll have to disagree. The music ranges from being upbeat and catchy to grim and foreboding. The sound effects are also pretty good. I really like the noise one of the small enemies make when you jump on them. There’s also a few voice clips here and there which don’t sound too bad either.
In conclusion, Super Turrican is an awesome run n’ gun game with non-linear level design and has some really kickass electronic music to boot. Unfortunately, the game is somewhat pricy and regularly goes over $20 online. However, you can get the game from the Wii Virtual Console for 800 Wii Points ($8).
4 out of 5 stars
Link to the entire soundtrack – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM-A6XN6COQ
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