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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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[Spiritual Successor] Thornado - N64, Gamecube (unreleased)

After they'd taken over the series entirely for 16-bit consoles, Factor 5 had all good intentions to continue the series that had made them famous on the new Nintendo 64. As it happened, however, there were some complications involving the Turrican name - the rights to Turrican in Europe were owned by Softgold, who had since bought Rainbow Arts, while the core of Factor 5 had moved to the US and held the name rights there, and apparently the two parties couldn't come to an agreement - and thus Thornado was born, or at least in theory, as it doesn't seem to have come beyond the concept stage.

Target renders and sketches show a shift to three-dimensional environments and urban environments; jumping on and over cars seems to have been a major element. Typical Turrican elements like the 360-degrees-beam and the futuristic combat suit for the protagonist seemed to have been intact, though.

The title Thornado later shortly resurfaced when the Gamecube was announced, but there was even less information given than about the N64 version the first time around. During a chat session in May 2002, Factor 5 leader Julian Eggebrecht stated that a lot of work, mostly graphics, had been done on the game, but that the project had been put on hold, although the developer was still looking forward to continue it one day. That was about the last that was heard concerning Thornado.

Thornado Target Rendering

Thornado Target Rendering

Thornado Concept Sketch


Turrican 3D - Windows (unreleased)

Manfred Trenz had last made his name heard for developing Rendering Ranger (originally named Targa), which he wanted to make a pure horizontal scrolling shoot-em-up, but because Rainbow Arts didn't believe in the concept, he ended up putting in Turrican-like run-'n-gun stages as well. Turns out Rainbow Arts didn't believe in that either and never released the Western versions, making Rendering Ranger the odd rare Japan-only title made in Germany that it is.

Afterwards it had become quiet around the programmer, until Turrican 3D was announced in 1999. THQ had just bought Softgold, achieving them the Turrican Rights. Under contract by THQ, Trenz teamed up with AllVision, apparently a venture specializing in architecture, to create the most impressive 3D environments possible. The game was to be a 3rd person shooter, but interviews of the time assure that Manfred Trenz hadn't forgotten what Turrican was all about: Big weapons, big worlds and total control. He also cited Super Mario 64 as his role model concerning the control and camera work.

But alas, the project was canned as well, and it appears not on good terms: Trenz accused his former partners of greed and lack of the necessary idealism, and has afterwards refused to publicly talk about further details.

Turrican 3D (preview)

Turrican 3D (preview)

Turrican 3D (preview)



Turrican - Mobile (2004 / 2005)

In 2000, THQ renewed the name rights to Turrican for ten more years, but all they did with the IP in that time was to put Mnemonic Studios on the development of two small mobile games. The releases are often referred to as Turrican 2004 and Turrican 2005, respectively, but the actual title screen just reads Turrican in both cases.

The games use rehashed sprites from various earlier games (mostly Turrican II) and generally follow the same concepts, only with horrid mobile controls, imbalanced enemies and smaller stages. They are also the only Turrican games that provide an auto map, although it is as hard to read as it is unnecessary. The major mechanical difference between the two versions are the jetpack sequences, which are separate levels in the 2004 release, but integrated into the platformer stages in the latter, which makes for many awkward moments when crossing their invisible borders in mid-air.

Turrican 2005


[Fan Game] Turrican 3 - Commodore 64 (unreleased)

There were not one, but two fan attempts to give the C64 a third Turrican game. Protovision's Stefan Gutsch and Chester Kollschen, later known for the Super CPU shooter Metal Dust, showed a running demo of their interpretation in 1998. That was apparently too early, as Factor 5 still had ambitions for the series and demanded from Protovision to cease and desist. Now the game was distinct enough to just rebrand it and make it stand on its own, but at the same time the floppy disk Protovision used to demo the game was stolen and spread around the web, which defeated their motivation to go on with the game.

In 2003, however, Protovision stitched together all they had left of the project, and put it as bonus material on their release of Hockey Mania. Despite a similar graphics design and the typical huge, maze-like stages, what's there plays quite a bit differently from classic Turrican games. Instead of the 360 degrees turnaround Lightning, holding the fire button pressed summons a kind of sattelite similar to the one in R-Type, but it is controlled directly by the player and constantly fires in all directions. Its use is strictly limited though, as it eats away from an energy bar, which can only be refilled with powerups. The Gyroscope also wasn't included (yet?), but the vertical Power Lines are.

The preview features some huge bosses, and also a feature the original C64 Turricans only managed to do for certain stages: Background music during gameplay. Unfortunately, the compositions are not that great. The level design seems either unfinished or uninspired, too, with many empty boring spaces and annoying dead ends. Due to the unfinished nature of the code, it's also not the most stable-running games ever. Nonetheless, it's an impressive piece of programming and shows lots of potential, and it is very unfortunate that Protovision never finished it.

Turrican 3 (Protovision)

Turrican 3 (Protovision)



[Fan Game] T2002 - Windows, Game Boy Advance (2003)

T2002 by Pekaro is essentially a recreation of Turrican's game engine for Windows. Notably, THQ gave its explicit permission to the project, and Chris Huelsbeck even allowed Pekaro to use his music for the freeware game, Manfred Trenz and Factor 5 had been contacted as well. Most graphics in T2002 are ripped straight from Turrican 2 (the Amiga and DOS versions), and even the first area is the same, although later stages divert more from the original. The mechanics also take elements from the first Turrican, though, namely the grenades. Like in the console ports by the Code Monkey, however, the pacing is not quite there, making the game much more difficult. Especially the bosses appear virtually indestructible.

T2002 (GBA)

Pekaro also ported their game to the Game Boy Advance, and the ROM is freely available from their homepage alongside the Windows version. But the best feature of T2002, the level editor, is only available for the Windows version. It has become the source of many custom-made Turrican maps, and in its farthest extend also spawned the dark and gritty total conversion T4 Funeral, which sports completely new levels, new graphics and a new story that picks up after Turrican 3. The physics here are much more natural compared to the base game, but already the first boss is just plain broken, with a hit zone the size of just about one pixel.

T2002 (Windows)

T4 Funeral


[Fan Game] Turrican III: Return of Darkness - Commodore 64 (2004)

Cover

Smash Designs' Return of Darkness is the other C64 Turrican 3, the one that actually made it to completion. Whereas Protovision's attempt came with a share of new ideas, this one keeps close to the well-proven Turrican formula; maybe a bit too close. Most of the time, it just feels like a rehash of Turrican II, especially the first three stages are full of deja vu, even some of the bosses and the shoot-em-up stages have been taken over. At the end of the latter, however, there is a cool new Darius-inspired boss, which engages the space ship in a frenetic hunt back-and-forth through the entire stage, and nice comedic cutscenes when Turrican boards and lands the ship. That said, the overall level design is nowhere near the quality of the original games, and there are frequent tedious and repetitive stretches, like four or so subsequent walls that have to be blasted through arduously blasted through, without even any enemies to hinder the player. The final stage is basically just the Amiga version of the tower, with the elevator platforms and all, only more annoying, with lots of dead ends that can't be seen nor guessed before taking them. The weapon systems and other mechanics are exactly the same as in Turrican II, too. The one stage that does bring something new on the table is also the worst: A strictly sidescrolling run-'n-gun level, which feels like it goes on forever and just repeats the same old boring enemy patterns and laughable platforming sequences over and over again. The Energy Wheel is deactivated for this stage, but it would have been useless, anyway.

While the game design is lacking half the time, the technical execution is almost as good as the original games. All the trademark effects are there, and like Protovision's Turrican 3, Return of Darkness features (mediocre) music throughout the stages. Unfortunately, though, it sacrifices the sound effects for it - a big mistake, as the lack of audio feedback makes the player feel disconnected from the action. There are also a number of weird glitches, most noticably with the Lightning beam, which is much longer when fired diagonally.

Turrican III: Return of Darkness

Turrican III: Return of Darkness

Turrican III: Return of Darkness



[Fan Game] Hurrican - Windows (2007)

Wallpaper

Poke53280's Hurrican might be the most ambitious of the inofficial Turrican games, with nine worlds full of original prerendered graphics that somehow manage to not look terrible and sterile; they're full of details and nice touches like sparks and smoke coming out of the Hurrican suit when damaged, subterranean plants with eyes that follow the player's every move, or a seemingly tiny mechanic lizard with a jetpack flying back and forth through the background, only too appear later as a not-so-tiny boss. But first and foremost, basing the sprites on prerendered models allowed for beautifully fluid animations, just the way you'd imagine the Turrican series would have further developed if it had made it into the second half of the 1990s.

Despite the completely original art assets, there is no mistaking that this is a pure fan game: If the similar name didn't set you off, there's a reunion with all the classic Turrican enemies and weapons. The game even opens with a fake C64-style cracktro, and the first world contains a hidden shrine to Manfred Trenz, where you have to kneel down in front of his portrait to get a bunch of powerups. The music also tries to sound vaguely Huelsbeckian, but certainly can stand on its own. A few awkward transitions attest of a slight deficiciency of either experience or polish, but there are some genuine sparks of genius in there.

Once again the weapon set from Turrican II serves as a basis, but this time the system has been thoroughly modernized: It's now possible to chose between the three standard weapons at any time, picking up their symbols just accumulates to their upgrades. Combat also feels more flexibla, as other than his older brother, Hurrican can also shoot diagonally and straight upwards. The grenades from the first Turrican are back, alongside a new one-time use smart bomb that obliterates the entire screen. For the Gyroscope the developers took hints from the console games, limiting its use with an energy bar, but it slowly recharges after using the wheel.

The stages likewise reprise the best characteristics of the original without simply aping them. Some of the mazes [gespickt] with tons of secrets and extra lives don't just live up to Turrican standards, but can easily compete with the best of Trenz' designs (some others are a bit dull, though. Many elements are inspired by other games in the genre, but that's something Turrican would do - and frequently did - either. Hurrican's ice stage for one thing is much more in tune with the rest of the game than the one Factor 5 put in Super Turrican. Poke53280 even managed to make a huge tribute to Castlevania fit in.

With 9 worlds Hurrican is very long for a run-'n-gun, but thankfully the game can be saved after each stage is completed. This doesn't make the game any easier, thoug, as the remaining amount of extra lives is carried over. And Hurrican gets pretty hard, especially towards the end of the game. There are four difficulty levels, and the Hurrican suit can take a lot of abuse on the easiest one, but do expect to restart the whole game a couple times after running out of lives. If the game proves to hard to beat on your own, Hurrican also introduces a two-player simultaneous mode, a feature never seen in the official parts of the series.

Hurrican (Windows)

Hurrican (Windows)

Hurrican (Windows)



The Future...?

It's been well over fifteen years since the last official Turrican release, and more than ten years since the failed Turrican 3D. In 2007, Factor 5's Julian Eggebrecht mentioned to Gamasutra that concepts for a proper 3D Turrican sequel existed, but Factor 5 didn't get around to actually making it before the company had to close doors in 2009. The licensing status at that time is not publicly known, but THQ still held the rights to the franchise at that time, at least for Europe. After Factor 5 closed shop in 2009, Julian Eggebrecht had reformed with a handful of former staff members to found TouchFactor. The declared mission of the new company, however, is to create social games - not the kind of premise that inspires hope for a Turrican revival

Manfred Trenz founded his new company Denaris Entertainment Software in 2004. Lacking the rights to Turrican, Denaris had a Katakis II on the backburner for many years (Trenz already tried to revive his classic shooter before, with the also unreleased Katakis 3D for Game Boy Advance), but the realities of the market forced him to focus on churning out ports and contracted shovelware for the Nintendo DS instead. As of February 2011, Manfred Trenz has finally gotten back his creation - THQ had ceased to renew their rights to the IP, and Trenz didn't waste the opportunity to register the Turrican trademark in his own name. So a new Turrican by the master himself is at least legally possible now, and with the recent proliferation of crowd funding... Who knows, maybe there could be a new chance for the classic series on the rise. Only time will tell...

Turrican (Amiga)



Related Articles


<<< 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