Rock you like a Turrican – Turrican review5 minute read

Turrican is a game that set standards well above that which was expected. Will it enter The Vintage Vault?

Each Vintage Vault review looks at the games of our past and decides whether they stand the test of time. If they do they become Vaulted and gain eternal protection from The Great Eye – Loganius. If they fail they get thrown in The Pixel Pit and receive eternal damnation. Let the trials begin.

If Psycho-Nics Oscar and Metroid had a child together, Turrican would have been their baby. Now most people will know the name Turrican but let us first show some appreciation to Manfred Trenz – the developer of this game. Yes, he developed Crazy Frog Racer in 2006, but prior to that (and since) he has some massive games to his name. Turrican is obviously one of them but also The Great Giana Sisters, Micro Machines V3, and Ankh amongst others. Of course the Turrican series of games is more well known, but here is a silent round of applause for Manfred himself.

Onto the game!

In a galaxy far, far away

The game is set in the lost colony Alterra, which is an entirely man-made world (in a galaxy far, far away…). The colony contains five habitats that were created by MORGUL a Multiple Organism Unit Link which bio-engineers terrains and environments. Due to a massive malfunction (caused by an earthquake of sorts) MORGUL rebelled and began to kill.

Some colonists managed to escape, which meant only few could tell the tale of this Artificial Intelligence with a vindictive and murderous streak. Generations pass while people try to return to the planet before a mutant warrior by the name of Turrican is created. Turrican‘s only purpose is to reclaim the planet, which has been taken over by MORGUL’s brutal alien life forms. Turrican must face all five environments, battle his way through various enemies and finally lay waste to the three faces of MORGUL. Someone should seriously consider a movie about this (don’t tell Uwe Boll).

Bio-engineered brilliance

The game itself is an old-style arcade shoot-em up, crossing paths of Metroid and Psycho-Nics Oscar as previously mentioned. Within the combat of your Rage Against the Machine you will come across several weapons. Firstly the standard blaster, which can be upgraded therein. you can also gain mines, grenades, bolts of lightning as well as unleashing the power bar – a screen-clearing mechanism with ultimate intensity.

Turrican differs from other games of its time as it did not contain linear levels. As the player you are able to explore each level, almost like an open-world (level) so that you can try to pursue all the hidden secrets.

With this exploration, coupled with the weapon-set you are able to gain bonuses that range from weapon improvements or ammo up to extra lives (of course – a standard) and other power ups.

Technical genius

The game itself is relatively straightforward at first glance, but playing through you will soon find that it has 360 degree scrolling levels as well as up and down scrolling mechanisms. It highlights a high degree of technical achievement for the time and the game was praised on this aspect.

The game was programmed on the Commodore 64 and was highly praised for the graphical achievement as it was ahead of what was deemed possible on this platform. The game also consists of 13 levels over a whopping 1300 screens. I did Google that as counting them would have been ridiculous!

Considering the game was released on an 8-bit program the visuals are stunning. Getting to end level bosses really highlight the development skills that have been put into the game with bosses that are literally massive and being rendered on very limited hardware.

Musically the game does not fail either. The soundtrack was composed by Chris Hüelsbeck who has composed music for games between 1991 and 2017 when he released 25 Years – Turrican II The Orchestral Album by Chris Huelsbeck. The music is phenomenal and very hard to forget. It adds another mega-hit soundtrack to a large array of games from the Commodore and Amiga years.

A rightful place

What Turrican brought to the world upon it’s release in 1990 was similar to what modern developers have done in more recent times. Naughty Dog for example seemed to push the development capabilities of the PlayStation 3 with The Last of Us and they gave us something that literally topped that console generation. Turrican was the same on the Commodore, pushing the limits of the platform and making sure that nothing could match its ultimate brilliance. That is why this game gets the following score as well as a place within The Vintage Vault.


Overall 8/10

Rating: 8 out of 10.