Turrican Flashback – Review
Follow Genre: Run-and-gun, platformer
Developer: Ratalaika Games, Factor 5
Publisher: ININ Games
Platform: Switch, PS4
Tested on: Switch

Turrican Flashback – Review

Site Score
Good: Four classic run-and-gun games that stood the test of time
Bad: Audio quality could have been improved
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 6.0/10 (2 votes cast)

The Turrican games might not be as famous these days as they were when they made their debut, and we imagine many younger gamers may have never even heard of them. After all, the original Turrican was released over 30 years ago, on the Commodore 64. If you’ve never experienced these games, then you have a chance to catch up now, as Turrican makes its triumphant return in Turrican Flashback, a retro collection that collects four of the classic run-and-gun games.


Turrican harkens back to the days when a game’s plot was explained in the manual instead of during the gameplay. As such, the game’s narrative plays very little relevance in the overall Turrican experience. If you’re curious, however, the plot summaries are available for you to read in each of the game’s menus. The idea behind the first game is that mankind created the Turrican, a genetically engineered mutant warrior, to reclaim their home planet Alterra after it was taken over by a Multiple Organism Unit Link, or MORGUL for short. The sequels feature similar plots, with the titular Turrican taking on an extraterrestrial menace, although in these cases, instead of a bioengineered mutant, it is a human that steps into the suit of the Turrican. 


All four games feature gorgeous sprite work that managed to stand the test of time. The bright colors and detailed designs of the Turrican and the many enemies that populate the four games held up really nicely and it’s impressive to see the visual evolution from Turrican’s simple backgrounds all the way to Mega Turrican’s sprawling environments. The collection also accommodates a variety of visual options. You can choose between a 16:9 full screen display or play the games in their original 4:3 aspect ratio. Additionally, the ubiquitous CRT filter is present, and you are able to tweak this filter so you can accurately emulate the look of an analog screen no matter what your display is. 


Let there be no mistakes about it: the Turrican titles feature amazing music. The soundtracks for these games have rightfully earned their own reputation, with the music from Turrican II even making an appearance at the Second Symphonic Game Music Concert in 2004. It’s a shame that Turrican Flashback didn’t include a music player feature, as the high-intensity gameplay often makes it difficult to really appreciate the tracks that play in the background. Additionally, the sound quality could have been improved slightly, as the music often sounds a bit too compressed, though this could be a matter of the source material being so old. 


Comprising Turrican, Turrican II, Super Turrican and Mega Turrican, this collection offers four run-and-gun games that all adhere to the same core design principles. What sets the Turrican games apart from their counterparts of the same era is the emphasis on non-linear level designs, although we should note that Mega Turrican is a more linear experience compared to the other three titles presented here. The sprawling worlds that you shoot your way through are filled to the brim with hidden areas, and you’re not just moving horizontally but vertically as well as you head for the end of a level. The level layouts are often reminiscent of a Metroidvania, but unlike in those games, you don’t need to unlock upgrades or abilities to explore the entirety of the stage. 

The titular Turrican himself has a varied arsenal at his disposal throughout all four games. Apart from the basic shooting attack, which has infinite ammo and can be spammed, there are several special attacks that you can unleash upon your foes. These are limited in usage though and you’ll have to collect power-ups in order to use them. Unlike most run-and-gun titles, Turrican’s health is indicated by a health bar rather than a number of hit points. As not every enemy attack deals equal damage, keeping an eye on your health bar can make the difference between survival or meeting your doom. Turrican’s arsenal changes throughout the games, making for slight changes in gameplay based on the weapons available. In Super Turrican, for example, you are able to freeze your enemies, whereas, in Mega Turrican, the freeze beam is replaced with a grappling hook that allows you to swing across obstacles in Spider-man style. 

Stage exploration is a key feature here, with rewards such as weapon power-ups and health containers waiting for you in some of the harder to reach areas of each stage. The downside of this non-linear approach is that it’s often easy to get lost when you’re exploring a stage for the first time. It should be noted that Turrican can open up new areas by destroying scenery around him and that he can also take on a buzzsaw-like form to squeeze into tighter spaces, not unlike Samus’ ball form in the Metroid games. Another core feature in run-and-gun titles are the boss fights and Turrican Flashback certainly delivers here. You’ll run into plenty of big bad guys during your time with the games, and unless you’re a Turrican veteran, they are quite challenging to take down. Like with many classic titles of the early 90s, beating a boss relies on memorizing their attack pattern and responding accordingly, and there is a good chance you’ll need to try several times before you’re able to figure out where a particular boss’ weak spots lie.

Overall, the games hold up quite well given their age, and retro enthusiasts should find plenty to love here. While we cannot compare this anniversary port to the original outings, as we don’t have access to the hardware, the controls of the port feel tight and responsive and the games are satisfying to play as a result. Like most modern ports of retro games, Turrican Flashback also includes a rewind feature as well as save states, making the games easier to swallow for newcomers. As such, if you’re eager to give the Turrican titles a go, then this collection is probably the superior choice over tracking down original hardware and copies of the games. We do have to point out that Turrican Flashback isn’t a complete package, and you’re still going to have to find a way to play Super Turrican 2 if you’re a completionist. That being said, you’re still getting your money’s worth, but we would’ve preferred it if ININ Games had squeezed in that title. 


Turrican Flashback is a worthy 30th anniversary celebration of the classic run-and-gun series, allowing newcomers to experience these titles for the first time and allowing veterans to relive their adventures with a few modern tweaks. The visuals are still gorgeous, the music never lost its luster and the gameplay holds up incredibly well to this day. The €29.99 price point may seem a bit high for a retro collection but when you realize that this only amounts to roughly €7.50 for each of the games, we’d say Turrican Flashback is a steal, and a must-have if you’re a retro enthusiast. 

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Rating: 6.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Turrican Flashback - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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