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Nostalgia’s a heady thing! Much like cocaine, it’s readily available for low prices and…wait, maybe not. These days, nostalgia’s being peddled in a much less dangerous fashion than hardcore drugs and you’re a lot less likely to go to jail if you partake. Case in point: Turrican Flashback, a collection of several of the oldest-school run ‘n gun shooters around. It’s bound to appeal to more *ahem* vintage players, but even newbies might find something to enjoy here.
If you’re under a certain age there’s a pretty good chance you’ve never played Turrican and are thus unfamiliar with the series, which began decades ago on the Commodore 64 no less. It’s also one of the few game series that’s largely avoided the remake and remaster treatment so far. The Turrican games are side-scrolling shooters, reminiscent of Konami’s Contra, where you control the titular cyborg hero as he blasts his way through baddies and makes it to the end of each stage. This is a pretty no-frills series, one that’s known for solid fundamentals rather than goofy gimmicks.
With that in mind, you’ve got four Turrican options in Turrican Flashback: Turrican and Turrican II are Amiga games, Super Turrican is from the Super Nintendo and Mega Turrican is from the Sega Genesis. Super Turrican II, one of the better entries in the series, isn’t present and that’s kind of a bummer, but the four games you’ve got here should be plenty of rootin’-tootin’-shootin’ action to keep you going for a while.
As mentioned, these are all pretty similar games so there’s no huge reason to go deep into each. Brent, or Turrican as he’s more commonly known, can run, he can jump, he can shoot several different weapons and he dies very quickly if he’s hit by anything bad; invincibility frames are, uh, flexible in these games. Solving each stage involves a lot of running about and exploring the area, since the playfields tend to be pretty large and packed with things to find. Goodies you’ll want to pick up include weapon power-ups, transforming Turrican’s gun into one of several forms, and much-needed extra lives.
Along with shooting enemies, you’ve also got Turrican’s signature Gyroscope mode, which is sort of like Samus Aran’s Morph Ball from Metroid combined with a buzzsaw – it’s a great way of shredding baddies since it makes Turrican invincible.
Turrican II is similar, but changes up the situation somewhat with regards to Turrican’s weapon loadout and the ability to use the gyroscope infinitely – which is a little busted since the gyroscope can’t take damage. Mega Turrican is essentially Turrican III and adds in a grappling hook, allowing Turrican to swing around and more freely explore areas, while relegating the gyroscope to a limited-use special tool. It’s a more linear game than previous Turricans which, honestly, is kind of a step up; it’s very easy to get lost in Turrican I and II, and having a more focused approach is nice.
Finally, Super Turrican is essentially Turrican 2.5, with a gameplay style that’s much more similar to the earlier games and a graphical style approximating Mega Turrican. It’s not too bad, but doesn’t stand out compared to the extreme contrasts between the Amiga and Genesis Turricans. Super Turrican is well known for being unfinished, with a “director’s cut” version coming out exclusively for the Analogue Super Nt SNES clone console. You’re not getting one, trust me, so it’s kind of a shame that this version isn’t available here.
You’d expect a variety of cute graphical and gameplay features for a collection like this, and they’re present and accounted for! There are much-appreciated save states and rewinds available, allowing the squishier gamers of today the opportunity to finish the brutal Turrican I, and several graphical options and color filters to make the games look just as crunchy as you remember. No matter what you choose these are all pretty reasonable versions of these games, so unless you desperately miss the Amiga’s single-button joystick you’ll probably get that nostalgia buzz right away.
All that said, Turrican Flashback is a pretty solid collection of classic run ‘n gun shooters. The lack of the Director’s Cut of Super Turrican is something of a disappointment, to say nothing of Super Turrican II and the earlier 8-bit games, but this is a pretty inexpensive purchase so it’s not surprising it doesn’t get too fancy. If you just want the classic and more readily-available titles they’re present and accounted for. That alone is enough to make Flashback worth the purchase.