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Page 1:
Intro
Turrican

Page 2:
Turrican II
Universal Soldier
Super Turrican (NES)

Page 3:
Mega Turrican / Turrican III
Super Turrican (SNES)
Super Turrican 2

Page 4:
Unreleased
Mobile
Fan Games

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Mega Turrican / Turrican III: Payment Day / Turrican 3 - Genesis, Amiga (1993)

Amiga Cover

Mega Drive Cover

Mega Turrican has a troubled history - something that should eventually become a reoccuring theme for Turrican sequels. Factor 5 originally started developing a Turrican 3 for the Amiga right after the second game, but as the computer started to lose commercial relevance, the project was canned. Soon later, the developer decided it could only survive by moving to home consoles, and revived the sequel on the Sega Genesis. But others weren't ready to watch the Amiga die just yet. The dev team Kaiko concluded a contract with Rainbow Arts for an independently-developed Amiga Turrican 3, without the knowledge of Factor 5. When they found out, they weren't at all happy with the events, and eventually the contract was changed for to port Mega Turrican to the Amiga instead. But shortly after Kaiko broke apart, and only programmer Peter Thierolf remained to complete the port, now with more direct involvement by Factor 5. Due to the extra hurdles that have to be taken to get console games published, however, the Amiga version was once again the first to hit the market, with the long finished Genesis original following not before 1994.

For the first time, Turrican diverted greatly from the formula of previous episodes. The biggest innovation in Mega Turrican is the Plasma Rope, which adds a Bionic Commando style swinging mechanic to the mix. The rope is used to reach higher platforms, as Turrican now jumps noticeably shorter than before. In exchange for the rope, Turrican loses his Lightning Whip; the Power Lines, another series icon, are replaced by more standard-looking smart bombs. The three main weapons got a graphical overhaul, but work just as they did before (a spread gun, a powerful laser, a bouncer weapon). Perhaps thinking that the unlimited Energy Wheel in the last game made things too easy (it can't be denied), Factor 5 introduced a time-bar for its use: once depleted, only losing a life could refill it. This system was later adopted in both SNES games. Finally, a more common energy bar was adopted, made out of separate blocks, and after a hit Turrican has a little invincibility time, like in most other console action games.

The most unwelcome change, however, comes with a new concept for the levels. Mega Turrican departs from huge maze-like structures in favor of much more console-typical, straightforward stages, where the player mostly walks from left to right. It may be just a change in level design, but it makes an huge difference for Turrican players, almost like passing from Metroid to Contra. The emphasis is a lot more on shooting action instead of exploration, and even the platforming itself feels different much different because of all the rope-climbing. That's not to say it's a bad game, quite the opposite. Factor 5 (programming it on their custom Mega Drive hardware, the Pegasus Mega Drive) really squeezed everything out of the Genesis hardware, and created a game that closes the trilogy in a very appropriate way, with a most epic battle against The Machine itself. The game is plenty of memorable moments, like a convoy of space ships that serve as platforms, or the very clever alien train. There's even time for nostalgia: the junkyard world is literally covered with parts of previous bosses. And one of them refuses to stay dead... Mega Turrican also pays homages to many classic action movies - the ED-209 from Robocop 2 appears as a boss, as does the head of the Alien (similar to the one in Contra) and a big Terminator head.

Huelsbeck was among the few musicians that managed to really master the iffy Genesis sound architecture, and Mega Turrican produces some of the best sounds ever heard on the system, next to Yuzo Koshiro's Streets of Rage 2. Yet the Amiga version still sounds much better, but the graphical capabilities of the machine had reached their limit: Many backgrounds are grossly simplified, and visual effects like morphing of background layers are missing completely. Peter Thierolfs new team Neon (who programmed Mr. Nutz: Hoppin' Mad for the Amiga as late as 1994) has later been talked about as possible developers for an Amiga Turrican 4, and it would have been interesting to see their vision for the series, but it remained but a rumor.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Factor 5

Publisher:

Designer:

  • Thomas Engel
  • Frank Matzke
  • Julian Eggebrecht

Genre:

Themes:


Mega Turrican (Genesis)

Mega Turrican (Genesis)

Mega Turrican (Genesis)

Mega Turrican (Genesis)


Additional Screenshots


Comparison Screenshots


Super Turrican - SNES (1993)

Japanese Cover

European Cover

Developed by Factor 5 at the same time as Mega Turrican, Super Turrican for the SNES lacks the polish of the Genesis game, but yet it is an interesting one. It features a rearranged Turrican 3 soundtrack optimized for the SNES' powerful sound chip: just how many games do you think could proudly show the Dolby Surround logo at the time? Typically for the system, it sounds much more soft than on the Genesis, but also loses a bit of its force in the process. The gameplay is once again closer to the first two games: Gone is the Plasma Rope, replaced with a freeze beam, which is much closer in spirit to the original lightning whip, although it doesn't kill enemies; the always welcome Power Lines return, and even the invisible bonus boxes make a comeback, instead of the ugly chests of Mega Turrican, that couldn't even be used as stepping stones to find secrets. Whereas previous Turrican games always stood at the forefront of visual perfection for their respective platforms (not counting outsourced ports), Super Turrican is much more humble. Use of the SNES' special sprite transformations is occasionally effective - for example when the ever popular iron fist boss enters the screen at a fraction of its usual size, only to zoom in just before disappointment ensues - but for the most part subtle, and also quite rare.

The beginning of the game is a melange of the first worlds of Turrican I and II, whereas the last stage is directly taken from Mega Turrican's penultimate world, the Alien one. More borrowings from past episodes follow throughout the game; the only stages that are really new is a substage inside of a volcano and an ice world. They feel distant from Turrican's usual atmosphere, and almost seem forced, as if every console platformer needed them. The ice stage at least redeems itself with a neat gimmick that involves riding on huge snowballs, yet its still the most linear and most boring stage in the game. Mega Turrican's final factory world that ended with the confrontation against The Machine is simply missing, the game just ends after the Alien boss, despite showing The Machine in the intro and outro.

Super Turrican is really a missed opportunitie. It sounds great, and the controls are even smoother this time, but stage design and overall atmosphere are a bit lacking, and the game feels a bit too short. No wonder: Factor 5 had originally finished the game for a 6mbit cartridge, but the publisher forced them to cut it down to 4mbit to save costs. One can only imagine what has been lost when 33% of the data went into the dumpster. The result is a rushed-ending, flawed patchwork game, that nonetheless manages to recapture a bit of the older Turricans' spirit. But hey, the game is pretty cool as it is, not nearly as much of a trainwreck as the mutilated Western release of Super Double Dragon. Recommended to all plasma rope haters.

By the by, the folks at Factor 5 apparently had a taste for British humour. The intro mentions a planet named Katakis - a reference to the Manfred Trenz shooter the company ported to the Amiga years before - but this planet is classified as "Mostly Harmless." This is the same phrase used to describe the planet Earth in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Factor 5

Publisher:

  • Seika (US)
  • Hudson Soft (EU)
  • Tonkin House (Japan)

Designer:

  • Julian Eggebrecht
  • Frank Matzke
  • Holger Schmidt

Genre:

Themes:


Super Turrican (SNES)

Super Turrican (SNES)

Super Turrican (SNES)



Super Turrican 2 - SNES (1995)

European Cover

American Cover

Here we are at Turrican's Long Goodbye. Factor 5 are such a talented team, this game could be considered a proof they were the best non-japanese developers on SNES at times. It is, however, a major departure from the original spirit of series. After many rehashes of graphics and elements, this game is build again from scratch. The Turrican Suit was completely redesigned with a much darker look. When idle, Turrican starts to fire his machinegun into the air. The arsenal involves again the three usual standard weapons; the pocket homing missile from Mega Turrican is back, and the smart bomb this time looks like a nuke blast. Finally, Factor 5 apparently couldn't make up their mind whether they prefered the grappling hook or the freeze beem, so they put in both, and added a flamethrower for good measure.

Stages became even more linear, though: all the emphasis is now on special stages where Turrican rides vehicles of any kind: from a desert dunebuggy to space motorcycles, and even underwater motojets, all in a true Mode 7 heaven. But the best one is the return of Turrican's jetpack, used by Factor 5 to craft a stunning overhead shoot-em-up level that pays homage to the great Axelay, with its fantastic perspective distortion. Each of these stages plays wonderfully on their own, but sadly the result lacks of cohesion. When not riding any vehicle, chances are that the player just has to move mindlessly from left to right, shooting everything in the way. The only "big" stage in the entire one is the second, and it pales compared to any of the mazes in the early titles. As a result of this very straightforward structure, the Energy Wheel (time-limited again) has become pretty much useless, if not for self-defense purposes. No need to bother looking for hidden passages.

Even more than Mega Turrican, the game is packed with sensational events and set-pieces, from a worm-riding stage (blessed with the best music in the game), to a spaceship so huge that it demands much use of the bionic arm (now even more reminiscent of Bionic Commando), to just about every single boss battle in the game. Never before have bosses been that spectacular in a Turrican game. They are all very challenging as well.

The mood of the game is a lot darker than usual, as mediated through both the graphics and the music. The story is told with pre-rendered cutscenes that somehow manage to not look terribly outdated (even if The Machine looks ridiculous in the intro). Huelsbeck's dominant theme this time was "military march," but while the game sounds great overall, only a few tracks really stand out. The soundtrack fits with the overall tone of the work at least, but no one will want to hum this in the shower.

The one big complaint with this game is that it doesn't play like Turrican at all. The difficulty is not as well balanced, and nearly every stage requires the player to do very things (eg. ride different vehicles), making them feel like individual rollercoster rides in an amusement park, rather than one coherent game. The bionic arm is more intuitive in use than the plasma rope was, but still leagues below Bionic Commando perfection. Super Turrican remains, however, one of the most impressive-looking SNES titles ever, and is worth playing through for its technical merits alone.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Factor 5

Publisher:

  • Ocean

Designer:

  • Julian Eggebrecht
  • Nils Meier
  • Lutz Osterkorn

Genre:

Themes:


Super Turrican 2 (SNES)

Super Turrican 2 (SNES)


Additional Screenshots


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro
Turrican

Page 2:
Turrican II
Universal Soldier
Super Turrican (NES)

Page 3:
Mega Turrican / Turrican III
Super Turrican (SNES)
Super Turrican 2

Page 4:
Unreleased
Mobile
Fan Games

Back to the Index