Review – Turrican Flashback

One of the best and most underrated developers of all time was the once-great Germany-based Factor 5. They were mostly known for their fantastic streak of hardware-defying titles released for the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube, such as Indiana Jones & The Infernal Machine, Star Wars: Battle for Naboo, and of course, the near-perfect Star Wars: Rogue Squadron trilogy. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t create their own IPs, as they were also known for their Turrican series. We are now able to relive their successful streak of 90’s titles with the brand new Turrican Flashback collection from ININ Games and Ratalaika.

He’s no Mega Man, but he sure has a much cooler name.

This Turrican Flashback collection was endorsed by Factor 5 themselves, after returning back from the dead in 2017. It contains four gems from the 90’s: Turrican and Turrican II, both for the Commodore Amiga, 1993’s Super Turrican for the SNES, as well as 1994’s Mega Turrican released for the Mega Drive/Genesis. All four games share some similar features, as they all are fast-paced action platformers with a huge emphasis on shooting everything in sight, as well as a very characteristic “Sonic-esque” level design. They are usually huge, with more than one pathway to the end goal, full of secrets to unveil, breakable walls, and one of its most noticeable features: you don’t always have to go straight in order to reach the end of the stage. It sounds beyond archaic, but such design philosophy was bold back in the Mario-dictated 90’s.

All four games have received the quality treatment you’d expect from a remaster collection published by ININ, the same company behind the Space Invaders and Darius collections. The developers at Ratalaika, the ones behind the port programming and overall emulation, have also added tons of extra features, such as your typical CRT filters, but most importantly, preloaded cheats. If you want to simply blast through all levels without worrying about lives or health, you can do so right from the get-go. You don’t earn trophies as a result, but hey, it’s the Switch we’re talking about.

Turrican Flashback

Some backgrounds are a bit too cluttered, resulting in an occasional visual mess.

I haven’t noticed a single graphical glitch or input lag in any of the four games, or at least something that would be a consequence of emulation and not something that was already an issue back in the day. Even though all four games feature responsive controls, Mega Turrican is focused around using a clunky grappling hook to reach distant platforms, in a move inspired by Bionic Commando. It doesn’t work as well as it should, resulting in what’s easily the least interesting game in the collection. Super Turrican is the best game in the collection by far, featuring the best visuals, controls and overall level design.

The best thing about all four games is their soundtracks. Factor 5 has always been known for their forward-leaning soundtracks and compression techniques. All four soundtracks were composed by Chris Huelsbeck, who would then compose what I consider his true magnum opus, the Rogue Squadron soundtrack, with the help of Factor 5’s insane audio compression techniques. You can see the seeds of their capabilities in these Turrican games, as the tunes included in here aren’t only catchy, but full of high quality instrumentation. There are even some brief but audible voice clips!

This fist-shaped boss utilizes those sexy scaling and rotation effects we all loved back in the 16-bit days.

In short, some of the games included in here might suffer from some graphical and gameplay issues brought over from the 90’s, but this collection really impressed me nonetheless. Turrican Flashback is one of the more robust retro collections released in recent memory, as not only did the games manage to (mostly) stand the test of time, but the developers also made sure to add quality of life and side features to improve each title’s replayability. You don’t even need to know what the hell Turrican is in order to enjoy this collection. Are you a fan of pew pew and platforming? Go for it.

Graphics: 7.0

Your standard remaster treatment on a handful of 16-bit games. They still look quite good, but some titles suffer from having excessively detailed backgrounds, resulting in an occasional visual mess.

Gameplay: 7.5

For the most part, all of the games included in the collection feature simple but entertaining action platforming controls. The exception to the rule is Mega Turrican‘s clunky grappling hook.

Sound: 8.5

Factor 5 has always been known for their high quality sound design and soundtracks. It’s no different in Turrican Flashback.

Fun Factor: 8.5

These Turrican games might have aged a bit in some aspects, namely the controls, but they are still incredibly fun. Not to mention the fact that this collection comes with preloaded cheats if you so desire to break the rules and feel even more overpowered than you already are!

Final Verdict: 8.0

Turrican Flashback is available now on PS4 and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Turrican Flashback was provided by the publisher.