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August 4, 2022

Turrican Anthology Vol. 2 Review (Switch eShop)

If you wanted the original Amiga classics Turrican I & IIyou likely spent a pretty penny to obtain them in Turrican Anthology Vol. 1. But Mega Turrican, widely considered one of the series' finest, was held back in lieu of a limited single stage Score Attack mode.

Fortunately, Turrican Anthology Vol. 2 includes Mega Turrican (Mega Drive), and also Turrican 3 (Amiga). Back in 1991, shortly after the release of Turrican II, developer Factor 5 decided to switch to the Mega Drive in light of declining Amiga sales. But finding a publisher for Mega Turrican turned out to be such a lengthy process that, in the meantime, it was back-ported to the Amiga as Turrican 3.

Why is this important? Because, bar minor graphical differences and a few control shuffles, Mega Turrican and Turrican 3 are essentially the same game. That means, with Super Turrican 2 (Super Nintendo) on board, this compilation is only two unique games strong. The extras, Mega Turrican Director's Cut other Super Turrican Score Attack Modemarginally pad things out.

Mega Turrican is one of the best games in the series. The leap to Mega Drive was handled with style, offering three unique weapons, lots of Metroid-style morph ball rolling and bomb laying, and a speedy, explosive adventure full of heavy-duty enemies and climactic boss battles. Compared to Super Turrican, it feels like a true series sequel.

While its stages are purposely more linear than Turrican I & II, the levels are still fairly vast, with plenty of secrets to uncover and routes to open up via the new grappling hook, one of the series' most memorable mechanics. Your weaponry feels great to experiment with, and you typically carry a large arsenal of bomb types to unleash. Bosses are bigger, badder and regularly punctuate stages with impressive flair.

Turrican 3, the Amiga port, has a few graphical cutbacks and changes and is slightly less colourful, but it plays largely the same game as long as you switch to modern controls over the exasperating Amiga originals. Disappointingly, Mega Turrican Director's Cut is almost exactly the same game (again), and simply unlocks a stage that's hidden in the original, making it playable without requiring any special conditions. Since Turrican 3 also has this stage unlocked as standard, this 'director's cut' feels like an insincere ploy to bolster this package's content.

Super Turrican 2 is, for lack of a better word, different. Here, Turrican ditches the labyrinthine structure for a straightforward left-to-right running and gunning. And, while not on the level of Contra III, there's some novelty value to be had, with appeal for those who prefer their action in a more linear format. The Turrican visual style has evolved to SNES style with some great-looking bosses, apocalyptic landscapes, various vehicles to control, and a nice Mode 7 3D section. The grappling hook is finally present on the Super Nintendo, too, after being omitted from Super Turrican, which adds some dimensionality to proceedings and allows you to swing from platforms and reach overhead secrets.

Super Turrican Score Attack Mode follows the same rules as Mega Turrican Score Attack in Vol.1, providing an original level to dash through, collect power-ups, and aim for a higher end-of-stage rank.

Mega Turrican represents one of the series highlights, and there's a certain amount of intrigue in Super Turrican 2's adjustment of the formula. The rest is largely recycled. The package has all the same awesome, tweakable features and options featured in Vol. 1 as well as continued bonuses in the form of galleries, jukeboxes, and a remastered soundtrack option. But the price for what's on offer is somewhat lofty. As we mentioned in our review of Turrican Anthology Vol.1, there's no real need to split these titles between two releases except to wring more money out of consumers. While the titles come in and the quality of the ports are generally excellent, the lack of unique content leaves something to be desired.

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