Turrican Flashback is finally here, bundling four classic Turrican versions into one for PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
— gamingretroUK (@gamingretroUK) January 30, 2021
I could literally write all day about Turrican. Discovering its astounding graphics in Zzap!64 back in 1990, I resolved to buy it as soon as possible. It’s hard to underline this 30 plus years later, but the game single-handedly revitalised the C64, with superb graphics, new colour palettes, amazing soundtrack, and perfect arcade playability.
Even with a £1 weekly pocket money rate, it took over two months to save up for. I ended up buying the £7.99 cassette version of the game from WHSmith on a unique trip to my father’s home town. Twelve months later, I was replaying it for the umpteenth time on the Amiga.
You can imagine the literal flashback of playing the new release of Turrican. Bundling the Amiga versions of Turrican and Turrican II, along with console titles Mega Turrican (released on Amiga as Turrican 3) and Super Turrican, Turrican Flashback is out on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, with a PSP version expected.
Turrican Isn’t the Same on Emulators
Over the years I’ve tried everything to revisit Turrican on current devices. The C64 Mini, a Raspberry Pi Zero running in the Retroflag GPi Case, Amiga emulators, dodgy Android ports that were quickly removed… None of them matched the majesty of the original games.
Basically, the game just isn’t the same on emulators. Even with a keyboard plugged in and controls mapped, there is a missing immediacy. Turrican certainly isn’t alone in not quite feeling right on emulators, but it suffers more than others.
So, what does Turrican Flashback really bring to the table?
Turrican Flashback: Making Retro Gaming Playable
Primarily, these 30 year old games are now as playable as they were on the original systems. I’ve tested the Nintendo Switch version and was, despite my already high expectations, blown away by how playable the original Turrican was. A few hours later I moved onto Turrican II, with the same semblance of nostalgic perfection.
Despite an almost completely different input system (I used a couple of joystick and gamepad types back in the day) I found guiding Turrican through his various challenges as effortless as dragging a Competition Pro shaft into position – and certainly easier than getting the timing right to hit SPACE and for power lines.
My copy missed a printed insert, so I had to work out the new controls through trial and error. Fortunately, this didn’t prove too difficult, thanks mainly to the save states and gameplay rewind feature.
Launching Turrican Flashback drops you into a menu with a choice of the four games. Once the selection is made, the game can be launched, settings tweaked, or a previous save state loaded. Each game has six slots for saving progress, and these can be created at any point of the game.
Controlling Turrican Flashback
With easy jump control, smart switch to gyro mode, power bars within easy reach, and gameplay as smooth as the original, Turrican Flashback really takes the 30 year old quartet of games to a whole new level. I’ve never enjoyed such an intense session with the original two games, not even on the Amiga way back when. Throw in Mega Turrican/Turrican 3 (which I rejected back in the day due to a lack of lightning beam) and Mega Super and you’ve got a collection of games unparalleled in the modern age for their innate old-school playability.
Additional settings in the game – such as pixel perfect mode, dynamic wide screen, the ability to choose from several background images – are window dressing. The real success here, as with Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, is translating a barnstorming, memorable retro gaming title into a game that remains as compulsive and addictive as it did.
Turrican Flashback is everything you wanted it to be – and more besides.
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.