“ Turrican 2 is a shoot-em-up published by Rainbow Arts for one player. „
Bren Mc Guires spaceship is boarded by a an evil alien force commanded by The Machine. Taken by surprise his crew are mercilessly slaughtered. Left for dead Mc Guire drags his tortured body into his Turrican-Fighting-Suit and pilots his ship to The Machines home planet. In a vengeful fury Mc Guire vows to wreak vengeance.
Turrican is a ground-breaking game from Manfred Tranz. An inspirational games programmer in the late 80s and early 90s he is the man behind classics such as R-Type and Micro Machines. However, I believe its sequel Turrican 2 to be his greatest achievement in terms of scope and its influence on future games. Released simultaneously on the Commodore Amiga Turrican 2 is a two-dimensional shooter. As with all action games of this type the plot is superfluous to the game play yet does provide a sense of purpose throughout the game. Turrican 2 is one of the first action games to give you a genuine reason for playing. Certainly a bit deeper than the standard alien invasion of earth plot prevalent in other shooters in the genre.
Many things make Turrican 2 a great game but the most important one is the central character. Mc Guires metallic fighting suit is one impressive piece of kit the like of which had never been seen before. This suit allows Mc Guire to jump to heights unseen in any platform-shooter , jump on smaller enemies and even roll into a spiked ball and destroy enemies and obstacles in his path. With the addition of a jet pack on some levels this suit can do it all and would be copied in the future in the Metroid series. The range and power of weaponry truly is immense. Starting with a basic gun you can upgrade by finding various tokens littered on the landscape or by shooting drones to weapons including bouncing lasers, spread shots and power beams. Even at his most basic powers Mc Guire is able to unleash Power Lines which destroy everything in their path!
Such a fantastic suit makes Mc Guire a seemingly invincible character and with a huge array of weapons and power ups you would think Turrican 2 would be a walkthrough game. However, this is perhaps the most difficult game you will ever play. The learning curve is non-existent as you are thrown straight into the action and are assaulted by wave after wave of alien creatures from small walking robots to pesky flies and alien jets. There is no mercy for anyone with anything less than lightning quick reflexes. There are five sprawling worlds to negotiate with fiendish level design packed full of secret areas, traps and obstacles to bar your path and numerous dead ends to frustrate along the way. With Tranzs trademark screen-filling end of level bosses with awesome firepower yet with the old faithful weak spot to find this is a game you get good at fast!
Although this game is fundamentally a shooter it is the platform elements that make it head and shoulders above the rest . Rarely before or since has a game mixed the skill and precision required in a platform game with the adrenaline-packed weapon firing of an all action shooter so well. As you take a leap of faith across up or down the alien landscape you simultaneously have to select which weapon to use to destroy the relentless hordes. It is this mixture of huge level design and non-stop thrills that make Turrican 2 such a joy to play. In an inventive attempt to provide variety in game play you must also take to your ship in certain levels and blast through waves of aliens R-Type style. A refreshing aside to the jump and shoot sections of the game and it is this variety in game play that makes Turrican 2 even better than the original.
Controls for McGuire are straightforward and responsive and they need to be! Weapons are changed and fired using the three largest keys on the keyboard so they can be hastily bashed when need be and Mc Guire can jump, walk or roll using either arrow keys or joystick. Graphically Turrican 2 is obviously dated nowadays with little use of colour in our central character and very little imagination in the design of enemies other than the fantastical end of level bosses. However, even now though they are passable with Mc Guire in particular looking clean and crisp and the weapons still look impressive. The soundtrack throughout is still well-suited with a thumping bass line and rock overtones pumping the adrenaline through my trigger happy veins. Not surprisingly though the sound effects are very poor. Limited to the odd bang or explosion. Collision detection could also be said to be poor as you lose energy via enemies passing through you rather than colliding (although many modern games have yet to rectify this).
This is hardcore heaven, rather than one for the casual gamer. It is a non-stop thrill ride of a game which you will either find ridiculously addictive as you try and get that little bit further on a level or horrendously frustrating as you die for the hundredth time at the same section. Either way this game is a true classic in its genre and is still playable today. Fortunately, this a game still available in various guises either on mobile (not a patch on the original) or in numerous fan-made versions (T4 funeral being the most faithful conversion). I would suggest trying to get hold of the original if possible though as it is still the best.
Various clones available at:
Most likely to find the original on eBay or at a retro online store such as:
If you like the sound of this but want to try something more modern you will love:
Metroid Prime Hunters on the Nintendo DS
Turrican and Turrican 2 were two of the finest games to grace the Amiga platform. They came at a time when every other game was either a film licence or a platform game(yes Ocean software) and despite at least fulfilling one of those criteria, still managed to blow everyone away. Where they stood proud above the competition was in the gameplay and graphics department. Huge care and attention had been paid to the Turrican licence to make it the very best that it could possibly be and that fact shone through in the gameplay. The first thing you notice is the graphics. For the time the visuals in this game were stunning and probably its initial main draw to most of the game buying public. The backgrounds were beautiful and the main turrican character large and well animated. The attention to detail was superb considering the platform which the producers had to work on. Enemy sprites too were well drawn and animated and came in enough variety to keep you interested - and the end of level bosses were huge and looked equally good. As a child at the time, it was the visual images which drew me to this game above all else...well remember how important that was back then? Most of the time you found the game sucked(Shadow of the Beast springs to mind...then Deathbringer) but you never learnt your lesson. Well, this time you got both gameplay and graphic, because the game was equally excellent. Yes, ok admittedly its another platformer and the Amiga platform is awash with the damn things, but at the same time its a platformer with more than a few original ideas. The levels for a start are huge and well designed. There are plenty of secret areas and power-ups dotted about the place in hard to reach areas. The enemies are numerous and attack in a variety of different ways so that it never becomes stale or boring and the difficulty level is pitched just right so that you don't get slaughtered all the time and its equally difficult to just wander through the
levels blasting away merrily without a fear of being taken out. You get a variety of different power ups which either aid you offensively or defensively - different weapons etc. and bosses which are genuinely tough to beat. It is a cut above most other platform games and with a pumping soundtrack its hard to fault it... Well ok, there are a few faults. As with most Amiga games, the action does slow down a little when there are too many sprites etc. on screen at once and the scrolling is a little iffy. Another MINOR niggle for anyone who has the original Turrican game is that the sequel is basically the original over again with a graphical spring clean and some different level maps. These are minor gripes though in the grand scheme of things. It would have been nice if they could have hugely expanded on the already excellent Turrican in the sequel, but you have to look at the limitations - and they did make improvements. It is overall an excellent game, and it still looks good and plays good today. If you haven't got an Amiga then there is a PC version available as well so there is no excuse to miss out...well it might be a toughie to track down, but its a great piece of retro fun! Highly recommended.