Remake Roundup: Turrican

This time on the Remake Roundup we take a retrospective on Turrican: one of the early action-shooty-platformers first released on the C64 way back when.

Turrican centered around the timeless art of exploring alien words while obliterating robots and giant flies. However it also introduced a few concepts that weren’t yet mainstream back then, like “more than one type of powerup” and “rolling into a ball”, which probably don’t sound like much now but were pretty dam amazing innovations at the time.

Turrican_c64

I guess since the core of Turrican was basically “run left-to-right” and “shoot everything”, I guess there wasn’t really a whole lot of room for variation. As such, the remakes this time around all stick pretty close to home. Nonetheless, a few choice remakes are out there, floating around in the debris.

The Original (1990)

Turrican_c64

Hitting shelves in 1990, Turrican has the distinction of being the most ‘modern’ game to enter the Remake Roundup so far. First developed for the Commodore 64 by Rainbow Arts, which was the version I owned, the series enjoyed a hearty serving of sequels and ports, from the Speccy to PC Engine to the Gameboy.

The game was, in many ways, a standard blast ’em up platformer by today’s standards; but it brought many firsts at the time. On the technical side, it had smooth parallax-scrolling, 16 colours and apparently a frame rate of 50fps – all things previously thought impossible on the C64. Gameplay was no slouch either, with massive open levels, tons of enemies and large oversized bosses to devastate.

The weapon system was perhaps the grand tour de force, placing a unparalleled amount of firepower into your hands: 3 types of guns on top of your standard blaster, each with three levels of power, and a flamethower/machinegun-whip like thing, that well, wasn’t that powerful but looked pretty darn cool. On top of that, you had two types of screen clearing weapons (something I had not seen in any other game of the time), and, perhaps most notably, you could also roll into an (invincible) ball, and drop bombs all over the place (an idea that made a wholehearted return in was gratuitously stolen from the Metroid series). For once in a game it actually kind of made sense to send a single person alone against an army of monsters – the Turrican battlesuit was jam-packed with more power than a fleet of nuclear aircraft carriers: you didn’t need anyone else.

Despite these gushing compliments, Turrican was, all-in-all, pretty straightforward. There is only so far you can go with “move from one side to the other and shoot things”, so there wasn’t really much room for improvement or evolution beyond this basic concept. This doesn’t mean Turrican was bad per se, but probably explains why the game pretty much sunk into obscurity by the mid-late 90s as new things took the fore.

T2002 (Windows/GBA, 2002)

T2002_1

The first “big” remake to hit the world in 2002, T2002 features updated pixel graphics, sound, and music, while still keeping in theme with its retro inspiration. The first level is pretty much a direct copy of the original, but the following new levels are completely new.

The game also comes with a level editor – so you can create your own Turrican levels, and that’s, well, pretty darn neat.

The only issue I had, was that it seemed somewhat demanding on processor power, and I was unable to get gamepad working. Aside from this, though, T2002 plays a decent tribute to the Turrican formula and is a great way to re-experience the game.

T2002 | Download

T4 Funeral (2004)

t4-funeral_1

This isn’t a videogame sequel to the flailing movie franchise, although watching someone play T4 Funeral still makes for a better viewing experience all round. Funeral is a fanmade ‘sequel’ and conclusion to the Turrican franchise, promising to bring you to a final confrontation with the series’ antagonist, The Machine (also a better name than “Genesys”).

Funeral uses the same engine as T2002, but with slightly upgraded graphics – however, somehow I find myself still preferring the T2002 art as it seems a lot crisper and sharper. Being a sequel, level designs are also all new and gameplay sees a few new powerups: you can now get a jetpack fuel, which sounds quite exciting but the player will always use it instantly and continuously til it runs out, which means it goes to waste more often than not.

More concerningly, the game seemed quite unstable when I played it – like T2002 it wouldn’t detect my gamepad, but also ran notably slower and seemed buggy. For some reason my character would mysteriously fall through the floor, either falling into the abyss and dying, or worse, getting completely stuck and requiring a total restart. I don’t know if this was somehow specific to my hardware, but the original homepage is defunct, which is not a good sign. However, if this problem doesn’t occur on your machine, you’ll probably enjoy T4 Funeral a lot more than I was able to.

T4 Funeral | Download

Hurrican (2007)

HurricanHurrican follows a similar formula to T2002 – staying pretty much true to the original game, but with updated graphics. The developers consider Hurrican a “Turrican Mega-Mix”, mixing ideas from several of the original games while adding some new content.

Unfortunately part of the “new” is 3D models pre-rendered as sprites, which somehow just never looks quite right to me. Luckily they are more to the decent side of “eye gouging” here, but I still prefer T2002‘s sharp-yet-strangely-colourful-for-a-grim-shooter chunky pixels.

What is probably most notable in Hurrican however is a first and only for the series (official and fangame-wise): two-player local coop-mode! That alone is worth the price of purchase, which, by the way, is $free.

Hurrican | Download

Dishonourable Mention: Universal Solider (MD/Genesis, 1992)

universal-soldier_turrican-ii-comparison

Source: Retro Games Revisted (https://bygonebytes.wordpress.com/)

The only thing “universal” about this game was the fact that licensed games were universally terrible in the 90s. The game was apparently intended as an actual Turrican port but the publisher, fresh from signing contracts with infernal forces, decided to order the game to be reskinned to match the characters from Universal Soldier, such as giant floating Dolph Lundgren heads, because I’m pretty sure they had that in the movie too.

Universal Soldier | Play Online

Unlike adventure games (which resurfaced albeit not so triumphantly) and shoot em ups (which still exist but almost solely as bullethell games), Turrican is a relic of a style that time forgot. It occupies a bit of an odd historical genre bubble – it was one of the best games of the most popular genres – but is now all but dead. If you want to relive the classic, T2002 clearly is the winner here, but the coop play of Hurrican sounds quite fun.

There are a few other remakes, clones and the like around, but sadly, most aren’t very good or never finished development. If you know of a remake we missed, feel free to contact us or comment below!

Further Reading

If you want to keep track of any ongoing developments relating to the Turrican series, check out fansite Turrican Forever.

For more reading on the history of the Turrican series, check out this distribuingly detailed article on Hardcore Gaming 101.

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About J.C

I grew up in the dark dingy arcades of the 1980s, blasting heads with Robocop 2, but grew up in an era that spanned the introduction of the x86 home computer, through to the 16-bit revolution, into the polygon age and beyond. I write about food, travel and of course, New Retro Games. I started newretrogames.wordpress.com and contribute to www.thecitylane.com. I am also a freelance business researcher, writer, and editor having published academic and corporate articles on innovation and intellectual property.

Posted on January 22, 2016, in Platformer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Cheers for these round-ups, they’re a treasure chest of warm memories – many of them yet to be experienced.

    But, you’re a bit off about who inspired who.

    Metroid: 1986.

    Turrican: 1990.

    Like

  2. Glad you like it, means a lot to know people are reading!

    Aha! For some reason I misremembered the ball-rolling mechanic as not appearing til later in the Metroid series. Thanks for spotting that.

    Like

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