The early 1990s was an extremely fun time for video games. Newer hardware allowed developers to try newer, bolder ideas. The games that pushed the boundaries in the late 1980s finally had hardware to meet those crazy ideas. Take Turrican, for example, which can best be described by most as Metroid meets a run and gun-style game. It combines the heavy, bullet-flying action of a typical run and gun but mixed with a large world for you to explore in whatever way you want. It was bold and truly special, yet sadly, Turrican has been largely forgotten over the years. Thankfully, the resurrection of Factor 5 (the developers of the Turrican games) and ININ Games’ desire to see the series return means the Turrican series can finally be enjoyed by new and old audiences in 2021. Turrican Flashback is a great way to enjoy the Turrican series today, although what you’re getting is a completely barebones collection.
Turrican Flashback is a collection of the Turrican series, minus the Game Boy game, the oddly named NES Super Turrican (not to be confused with Super Turrican on SNES), Super Turrican 2 (the sequel to the SNES Super Turrican) and the Director’s Cuts (more on that later in the review). In Turrican Flashback you get to enjoy the original Turrican, Turrican II: The Final Fight, Mega Turrican, and Super Turrican.
One thing that stands out immediately is how well these games look and play. The emulator is absolutely spot on, from the crisp display to the smooth action gameplay on-screen. It really feels like how I remember these games playing back in the day. Whether you’ve played a Turrican game before or not, you’ll appreciate how well the colors pop and how the game feels playing it. Turrican Flashback is special because whether you’re a longtime fan of the series or a newcomer, each game is easy to pick up. At no point do you feel like the game throws you in headfirst without any direction. Within a few moments, you feel like you’ve got the gameplay down. Since the Turrican games aren’t a typical linear affair, being able to quickly learn how to control your character is a big deal.
In my opinion the best game in this collection is Mega Turrican, which originally released on the Sega Genesis. Mega Turrican is probably the most accessible game in the bunch, with a linear approach to level design and more typical platform-shooter action. To be fair, Mega Turrican makes the biggest changes from the series’ normal gameplay. It boasts a gameplay style more comfortable to modern players, increasing the action on-screen and dialing back the open exploration found in previous Turrican games. The next best game is Super Turrican, which sees the franchise perfectly mix the open exploration of the first two Turrican games with the action-focused Sega Genesis sequel. This hybrid style works very well at giving you the best of both worlds, although the ice beam power-up isn’t that great compared to Mega Turrican‘s grappling hook.
Turrican Flashback does a great job at adding “modern retro features” to the collection. The addition of save states and a rewind feature for each game is a very welcome addition. Even the original cheat codes for each game work in this collection, offering you things like infinite health and ammo, which help in your adventure considerably. There is even an option to modify your screen display. This allows you to display the game in true pixel perfect form, or if you want to relive the TV displays of the 90s, you can add a CRT effect to your screen.
That said, Turrican Flashback is the latest example of how to completely put in no effort in a “celebration collection.” For $30 you get four games. That’s it, nothing else. Absolutely nothing else is added into this collection, which is trying really hard to get you in a “celebrate this series” sort of mood. There are no special features, behind the scenes look at development, promotional documents or anything special that more recent retro game collections have added. There isn’t even a music player in the collection, which is actually angering because the soundtracks to the Turrican games are AMAZING. You are paying $30 for a nice emulator with four games, and that is it. Even worse, you’re not even getting the whole collection. If you buy the physical edition of the game on Strictly Limited’s website, you get all the games included in this collection PLUS the five other missing titles. It genuinely feels like you’re being sold half a collection, with the half you received being as barebones as possible.
This is what makes it hard to recommend this collection to people. Is it a well emulated collection of really good games? Yes. Is it completely barebones and gives the feeling of a complete lack of effort? Absolutely. At $30 it feels a bit too expensive for what you get, especially when you compare it to other collections available. Don’t get me wrong, if you loved these games growing up or love the idea of a Metroid game mixed with run and gun action, then there is fun to be had here. I’d probably recommend you wait for a price drop before this collection becomes worth your money. Or maybe just wait until the full collection (with the five missing games) gets released for everyone.
Developer: Factor 5
Publisher: ININ Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4
Release Date: 29th January 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Turrican Flashback was provided by the publisher.