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Super Turrican (SNES) artwork

Super Turrican (SNES) review

"Best hits collection"

Super Turrican (SNES) image

We all know of the Great Gaming Crash of the 1980s, a period of time when video games seemed to be but a waning fad. In the Western Hemisphere, production of quality titles grinded to a halt. Over in Europe, however, the rise of PC gaming meant that many aspiring programmers had a chance to make it big by making games for such systems as the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum. The result a bevy of games that may not be impressive by modern standards yet nutured a generation of talented programmers and sustained gaming in the European market as Nintendo and Sega proved wary of risking much effort in localizing games to the continent. One game series beloved by Amiga and 8-bit computer owners alke was Turrican, a run-and-gun series with explorative elements.

Before its acquisition by Electronic Arts, a publisher named Rainbow Arts was considered by many to be a label implying quality control, or at least what passed for it on the strange market of 8-bit computer gaming. Turrican was one series owned by a branch of the company, and it proved successful enough to migrate from computers to consoles. After a few ports of the original Turrican, a more enterprising title, Super Turrican, was released on the Super Nintendo in 1993. This game was a reinterpretation of levels from the first two games, but it was no mere port. Polished design and amazing graphical prowess made Super Turrican an essential action title and a step up from its predecessors in every way.

Super Turrican (SNES) imageSuper Turrican (SNES) image

In an era in which starting up a PC game without the consultation of a manual resulted in a brief exercise in trepidation and frustration, the original Turrican games were welcome and intuitive but not without fault. The most dire problem was surely the lack of invincibility frames; in, say, Mega Man or Metroid one can take multiple hits before death, each blow followed by a flickering state in which the player takes no damage and has a chance to reorient himself. In Turrican, no such system exists, meaning that two full seconds in contact with literally any threat equals death. This infuriating system was only one step up from a one-hit kill and makes playing Turrican without the aid of savestates very difficult. Super Turrican rectifies this with a more traditional segmented health bar coupled with invincibility frames. This alone makes Turrican's SNES debut the ideal point of entry for many players, but the developers didn't isolate their polish to just the most necessary matters.

The original two Turrican games pushed their PC hardware to its limits, but Super Turrican utterly blew them out of the water. Detailed pixel work, rotating sprites, fantastic backgrounds -- when it came to technically impressive SNES games, Super Turrican is surpassed by few games of its genre. It's difficult to choose which is more impressive: the fact that consoles were so far ahead of fairly contemporary PC games of the time, or the fact that most of the people who made Super Turrican had little prior experience with the hardware they had to work with.

As far as the Turrican series' sound design is concern, let it be known that composer Chris Huelsbeck is a master of music. The music was arguably the best part of the Amiga Turrican games (and certainly the part that aged best), and Super Turrican's soundtrack is as excellent as one should expect from the composer of songs like this. Exciting, tense, and hard to forget, the music of Super Turrican was cool back then and is at least as cool now.

Super Turrican (SNES) imageSuper Turrican (SNES) image

Of course, the gameplay is Super Turrican's strongest point. Mechanics are instantly identifyable and inuitive; you fire in one direction but have a wide arsenal at your disposal. Powerups allow your gun to switch between multiple firing modes, those being a spread gun, more focused laser fire, and bouncing projectile streams. You'll need to jump and shoot like Mega Man much of the time, but you have a petrifying ray that can be aimed manually to stun enemies. Other deadly tools are rare screen-clearing bombs to use in tough situations and a slowly recharging power wheel state that's like an invincible Morph Ball on steroids. Moreso than other games of the genre, Super Turrican boasts level design that makes using each weapon a unique challenge, and there is rarely a situation made artificially challenging by having the wrong weapon.

Speaking of level design, Super Turrican takes place across many cool locations from the prior two Amiga games while using some new layouts often housing memorable setpieces, such as the windy icebergs and the Giger Train (see for yourself!). Levels hide plenty of secret collectibles while providing a count at the end to show you if you got them all. Though there is no great reward for finding everything, it's satifying and helpful to uncover a secret cache of gems and powerups. In short, action + exploration = fun.

And "fun" is a word well-suited for Super Turrican. Its challenge is perfectly moderated, its levels are varied, and its music still rules. Super Turrican is the best hits of many ideas from its predecessors, and these hits still rock.


Follow_Freeman's avatar
Community review by Follow_Freeman (February 10, 2018)

When he isn't in a life-or-death situation, Dr. Freeman enjoys playing a variety of video games. From olden shooters to platformers & action titles: Freeman may be a bit stuck with the games of the past, but he doesn't mind. Some things don't age much.

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