Game Review: Turrican Flashback (Nintendo Switch / PS4)

Modern consoles have been plagued with remakes and remasters of games from past generations. Usually publishers have turned to the PSOne, PS2 and PS3 for inspiration often with mixed success. But now ININ Games have looked further back to a series of classic arcade shooters that first launched on the Commodore Amiga in 1990. Hitting both digital and physical stores simultaneously, they are bringing four classic titles in the Turrican series together for the first time to release Turrican Flashback…

What Is Turrican Flashback?

Turrican Flashback collects four titles from the Turrican series – Turrican and Turrican II from the Amiga, Super Turrican from the SNES and Mega Turrican from the Sega Megadrive. Now some may argue that all four are relatively small titles and more could be included for the price. But considering that this is less than the price of one of these when they were first released, and is comparable to other retro remake compilations then under £30 is quite a fair price.

Turrican For Beginners

But what is Turrican? Released originally for the Commodore 64 and developed by Factor 5, it’s a 360 degree side scrolling platform shoot-em-up. You take control of a futuristic solider, fighting off endless waves of aliens, bosses, and battling through huge complexes and structures. While it was ported to other 8-bit platforms including the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad, and the original Gameboy, it’s the Commodore Amiga where it truly found fame thanks to the superb graphics and stunning soundtrack from Chris Huelsbeck.

What’s New

These aren’t just straight dumps of the original game ROMs though with an emulator and front end slapped onto them. That would have been the easy option and is something that has been done so many times before when we’ve seen retro compilations. Instead, there’s been an incredible amount of care and attention taken with Turrican Flashback to give the games the respect they deserve.

As you would expect, save state options are present for all four games and a variety of screen modes are available including the all-important CRT filters. For the two Amiga games there is also the option to alter the sound balance for the Paula sound chip to suit your own listening preference.

New Controls And More

But those are just cosmetic updates. Where this new update really comes into its own are the controls. They have been completely reworked to assign buttons to each of the games functions. While this enhances the console ports no end, it makes the most difference on the Amiga versions of the game. Instead of a variety of single fire button and keyboard combinations, each different action now has it’s own dedicated button on the controller. One for fire, one for jump, one for the beam attack and so on. It makes the gameplay far more fluid and responsive.

Adding to that is an extra option to rewind gameplay to help when you make mistakes. There’s no limit to the number of times this can be used in any one gaming session making it ideal for those who are new to the franchise or for those who need an extra helping hand.

It’s Only Emulation

One thing that really surprised me with Turrican Flashback was the quality of the emulation. Granted, I was playing the Nintendo Switch version of the release for this review so I wouldn’t expect it to have any problems, but the emulation itself was flawless. Both the SNES and Megadrive ports ran smoothly with no glitches visually and the sound was perfectly as well.

What really impressed me the most was the Amiga version. While the game was written originally to run on a basic Amiga 500, it made use of Chris Huelsbeck’s TMFX custom sound routine that managed to get 7 sound channels out of the Amiga’s four channel sound chip. This is the one thing that usually causes issues with emulators, causing slight hiccups with the sound or affects the smoothness of the scrolling. However, it ran just as it would on real hardware.

But Aren’t They Free Online?

This is something that always comes up when it comes to retro compilations like Turrican Flashback. Retro gamers argue that titles are available “freely” from download sites so there is no need to pay for them in packages like this. The reality is that these downloads are illegal no matter how old the games are and this is the only legal way to run the Turrican series on any modern platform.

The success of this collection – and ones like it – can also influence the future of the Turrican franchise. Fans have been crying out for decades to see a fourth title in the series, and now that the rights have returned to Factor 5 and the interest is there to make it happen, that could become a reality if this does well enough. Put simply the fate of Turrican IV is in our hands.

Test Of Time

As with any retro game, the important question is how well they have stood the test of time. The Turrican series has held up remarkably well in every way. They’re just as addictive, have the right balance of difficulty and enough action to satisfy any arcade enthusiast. There are plenty of powerups to keep the arcade purists happy and enough variety so you won’t get bored easily.

Growing up with the Amiga versions, these two are obviously my personal favourites of the four included here but it’s fascinating to see how the series evolved over time. New gameplay mechanics (including the use of ships), enhanced visuals, speech but the core game remained intact. While I would have loved to have seen the Commodore 64 version included as well for the sake of nostalgia, I think there couldn’t have been a better introduction to the world of Turrican here.

Overall

When they were first released in the 90s, the Turrican were seen as being must-have games. However, unlike many of their peers they are just as addictive today as they were back then making this collection an essential purchase. If you loved Turrican in the 90s, you won’t want to miss the set now.

If you missed it first time around and wonder what all the fuss is about, but love retro gaming or run-and-gun shooters then give it a go – you won’t regret it. This could well be the hottest retro gaming release of 2021.

Review copy for this game courtesy of ININ Games

About Simon Plumbe 155 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe

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