Turrican Flashback Review (PS4)
Developed: Factor 5 + Ratalaika Games
Published: ININ Games
Genre: Action, Arcade
Release Date: Jan 29th, 2021
*Key provided for this review by publisher
Turrican Flashback is a compilation of 4 action arcade platformers developed by Factor 5, Ratalaika Games and published by ININ Games. Originally seeing their releases on platforms like Amiga and Megadrive, Turrican Flashback aims to give the current generation a taste of that good ol contra style game play and show them just exactly what it felt like to play these games during that era. But does it achieve its goal in doing so? or should it have stayed in the past, along with so many other franchises? let's find out!
Turrican Flashback is a compilation of the Amiga/Megadrive games Turrican, Turrican 2: The Final Fight, Mega Turrican, and Super Turrican. Now I've seen a few other people talk about ''Why isn't Super Turrican 2 in this collection!?'' and rant about it, but we won't do that here, as I feel their judgement of this compilation was more based off that exclusion rather than judging these games together in this pack on their own merits. So that's what we will do, we will judge what we have and come to a conclusion based off the content we have in the here and now. Its the proper way to do it.
All 4 games in the Turrican Flashback pack play relatively the same throughout all the games, barring some minor adjustments and changes. If you're familiar with Contra, then you already have a rough estimate on the type of games you're getting into. However, the difference between the Turrican games and titles such as Contra is that Turrican focuses much more on exploration and secret finding than it does just running and gunning, which in turn is both a blessing and a curse. In Contra you can move left and right and directional aim anywhere at all times, while in Turrican, you can only aim left and right unless using your beam/laser attack, which allows you to swing your gun fire in a circle or in a direction you wish it to go. But it's not as a fluid as it sounds because Turrican at times can be very fast paced and in the heat of the moment you could be dealing with enemies on a steep hill or as you're climbing up platforms and have trouble actually killing them because you have to stop and aim your directional attack, which may or may not always hit or even reach. It can get very frustrating.
Thankfully you have other means of attacking your opponents should you get in a tough situation and that's with items such as land mines, AOE(area of effect) ability that spreads throughout the entire screen, grenade launcher, rolling ability, and many other gun power ups that can help you in specific situations. You'll find these abilities carry over throughout all 4 games, along with the inclusion of a grapping hook you get in later games, but for now lets focus on your ways of attack, so that you know what to expect after playing the first title in this collection. At your disposal comes a plethora amount of attacks that help you in various situations that you may be stuck in. For instance say you come to a road block where spikes move up and down between a very narrow crawl space that you can't get through without either taking a hit or not being able to walk through, then this is where your spiked ball ability comes into play. By turning into a spiked ball, you're able to roll through small spaces or hazardous areas with ease without taking damage and dying. Spiked rolling is also very useful versus certain bosses that rush at you, who sometimes give you little to no room to move, so your only option is to duck and roll. You're basically a small version of metal sonic from Sonic The Hedgehog if you want an accurate image in your head.
Other forms of attack include an area of effect attack that sends beams of energy throughout the whole screen. This ability is useful when there's too many enemies on the screen for you to combat at once and this can turn the tide of the fight in your favor. Landmines are also a good option to use should you be running from an enemy or boss, you can strategically place a mine to either kill or damage them just enough to take the advantage in the fight back. Finally you have your main form of attack, your machine gun or laser gun upgrades. Much like Contra, yes were mentioning it again, you'll be able to shoot flying canisters that hold key powerups for your weapon. These upgrades include a faster shooting weapon, laser machine gun, a big green ray beam, a multi direction blue energy gun and a gun that spreads its gun fire(IE: Spreads from Contra). Each one of these is useful in their own way. For example my favorite upgrade is the blue energy gun as it shoots in 3 directions, forward, up and down. This allows you to take out enemies no matter where they are and helps compensate for the lack of normal directional aiming. While other upgrades such as green beam allows you to clear out more enemies in more condensed areas. Pick and choose your poison based off your situation, it will determine if you live or die.
As stated earlier in my review, the game does tend to focus more on the exploration aspect of game play over just the shooting and pew pew fighting. But this is where it becomes both a blessing and somewhat a curse. It's a blessing because it allows you to complete a level in a variety of different ways, while also possibly getting a power up you might not have gotten if you never explored in the first place. But the reason exploration becomes a curse is because there's no mapping system to indicate just where exactly you are. This can cause you to go up and down all over the level trying to figure out just where you need to go and in the end it can either leave you bored and wanting to just get it over with, or cause you to just shut off the game out of frustration and annoyance and come back to it at a later time. For me personally it was in the middle, I found it both cool to be able to explore, but also a little bit annoying when I'd get lost and tread the same sections of the level over and over for nearly a half hour. Thankfully not all levels feel like this. So take solace at least in that
Everything I mentioned above carries over between all 4 games, with a few exceptions like I said, such as slight graphical improvements, better environments and level design, as well as the inclusion of voice acted power ups indicating when you get a power up rather than just relying on a small ''ding'' of noise to let you know you've picked something up. Later games also give you a new accessory at your disposal, such as the grapple hook which allows you to grab on to platforms and swing your way to safety or to your objectives, which it does come in handy at times, but it isn't a huge game play changer overall. But besides those things I mentioned, what you play in the first Turrican game, you pretty much get in the other three titles as well, not a huge amount of variety, but that's not always a bad thing because sometimes too much variety, CAN be a hindrance. So yes, sometimes less is more.
All 4 games hover around the ''medium'' difficulty level, not too hard but not overly easy either, just the right amount of difficulty, well.. except for the boss fights. Boss fights can range from stupidly easy to annoying hard due to how cheap some of the boss mechanics feel. Some boss fights you'll destroy with relative ease, while others will have attacks that no matter what you do, you're going to take damage and no amount of whining or crying will change that. It can get incredible frustrating, especially if you do not have a good weapon to use against a specific boss that you need. But there is a way around this annoyance, the rewind feature. With the rewind function in all 4 games, you're allowed to rewind time at any point, mid fight or standing stationary, it doesn't matter. Get hit or die and don't want to lose that weapon upgrade? just rewind to the point where you were going to get attacked and dodge it completely. This is a very handy tool to have when trying to complete the games or get past a tough section you've been stuck on, but at the same time, it takes a lot of fun out the game that is already a medium tier challenging game, even easier now with rewind because there is no threat of dying. It also makes the inclusion of the cheat code system in this collection completely pointless too because why would you need all these extra cheat codes and power ups when you can just rewind and never die in the first place? Its self defeating.
At the end of the day Turrican Flashback compilation of games does achieve its goal in bringing back some classic Amiga and Megadrive games for the current generation of gamers to enjoy and relive some of gaming's history. It's got a banging soundtrack, great variety of weapons and abilities, good level design and some fast paced shooting action, however, where it falls short in its endeavor here is lack of extra content such as collectibles for OST extras, gallery for concept art, extra modes and conflicting issues between Rewind mode and Cheat Code mode where the rewind function makes the cheat mode completely unnecessary and useless. There's a lot here to get into and love about the Turrican games, but if you've played one, then sadly you've played the other 3 to a certain extent too as they do not differ from each other enough for them stand out as much as the first title in the series did.
Even with the shortcomings and annoyances I had with all 4 titles, I did manage to have a lot of fun and enjoyed playing through these titles to see what I actually missed back in the Amiga and Megadrive days. But at the $30 price tag they're asking for, even with as much as fun as I had with them, I can not justify buying the title at the full $30 due to how much of ''the same'' each title is and coupled in with the lack of extra content, lack of important modes to give you extra incentive to play after beating them. Do not get me wrong, you should definitely buy this title, just not at $30. The sweet spot here is definitely $15 then you should definitely dive in, you will not be disappointed then. Till that time comes, I say Wait.
Turrican Flashback is now available on PS4,PS5 and NSW
Where to buy?
Nintendo Eshop: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/turrican-flashback-switch/