Turrican Flashback review

Turrican has arrived on Nintendo Switch in the form of Turrican Flashback, providing that nostalgic look back to one of the most beloved running and gunning shoot em ups of the 90s. Turrican Flashback is a compilation of Turrican games which includes Turrican, Turrican II: The Final Fight, Mega Turrican and Super Turrican.

The original Turrican came out in 1990 for the Commodore 64 and was later ported to the Amiga. This is the version we see here ported onto Nintendo Switch. Turrican is a cross between Metroid and Contra, where you run and gun with an array of weapons but there’s also an element of exploration, platforming and secrets to discover. Turrican allows players to explore and find their way through levels, rather than a simple linear path which was innovative at the time.

Turrican II: The Final Fight originally came out in 1991 and featured some of the gameplay mechanics the developers wanted to get into the original a year before, but they simply ran out of time. The game was set to be released on SNES, Megadrive and Gameboy too, but it was decided later on in development to release a tie in the version of the game with the movie Universal Soldier. The game was cancelled for the SNES but released on Megadrive and Gameboy.

Mega Turrican was an original Factor 5 game initially designed for the Mega Drive/Genesis and later followed by an Amiga port under the title of Turrican 3: Payment Day. The Super Turrican games were developed for the SNES by Factor 5. They were released in 1993 and 1995, respectively. It’s a shame Super Turrican II isn’t here in this package, given that was probably a better game. However, there’s plenty of Turrican to sink your teeth into here for sure.

In terms of gameplay, they offer up similar move sets, skills and abilities. There’s the standard shooting, or you can use your beam attack to attack a large number of enemies at close range. Much like Samus in Metroid you can also roll into a little ball and get through little gaps or evade enemy attacks. One thing that surprised me was how well these games held up today. There’s been a few attempts at a recent run and gun games like this including Cuphead, Enter the Gungeon and Broforce and these Turrican games old up well.

The games are fast, you’re going to have a lot of enemies coming at you at pace and you’re going to need your wits about you and practice to get through these levels. Rather than the single hit kill that other games have employed, you’ll get a health bar here although you will find it getting depleted rather quickly if you simply run into an area gun-ho. There are calmer moments of exploration and platforming, which sometimes feel a little bit less directed than perhaps you’d want. That’s where the age of the game start to show itself, but I can overlook that small issue.

A Turrican fan will get a lot out of the compilation. Having the ability to enjoy these games on the move will be a treat for some, as these are the perfect commute and plane games. I find it hard to get stuck into a massive open-world game on a journey and sometimes I just want something I can dip in and out of on the Nintendo Switch and Turrican Flashback is just perfect for that.

In terms of the overall package, Turrican Flashback is fairly barebones. There’s for great games for sure, but otherwise, there’s not too much there to celebrate Turrican. There isn’t any additional art or music, which is a shame, especially considering the quality of soundtracks. There is a neat save state and rewind feature, which makes it a little easier than it was back in the 90s.

Turrican Flashback is a great trip down memory lane and it’s great to have these on a handheld console where they work very well indeed. The original Turrican games hold up well to modern run and gun games, and it’s nice to have the addition of Mega Turrican and Super Turrican also. This style of game isn’t as popular as it once was, but this is an entertaining reminder as to why these games were as successful as they were. If you’re a fan of the genre then I’d give this one a go.

Developer: Factor 5
Platform: Nintendo Switch / PlayStation 4
Release: Decemeber 8th 2020

Thanks to the publishers (Inin Games) and PR team for providing a copy of the game.