Turrican Anthology: Vol II (PS4)- Review

Title: Turrican Anthology: Vol II
System: PS4
Price: $39.99
Release Date: May 2022 (Physical)


Story

Having just covered Volume I, Volume II is the other part of the collection: same general feeling, but with three versions of Turrican 3, the score attack mode to Super Turrican, and the mythical Super Turrican 2. Definitely the odder games in the franchise, but still with their own merits!

Presentation

If you’ve seen my thoughts on the first Anthology, good, since this is literally the same in terms of features, galleries, maps and all. My only notes here are that Turrican 3 has quite a variety of sound options due to the different versions included here, (you can make Mega Turrican use the Amiga sounds, as one example) and hearing remixes of Super Turrican 2 was very delightful considering the obscurity of it. Super Turrican 2 in particular is noteworthy as it uses some pretty funky prerendered visuals for the in-game cutscenes, and looks drastically different from the rest of the series, feeling like a reboot of the franchise in a sense.

Gameplay

Same verse as last time: the games included, how they play here, how the new map factors in, and detailed thoughts on the stuff that wasn’t in Flashback. Let’s go!


Turrican III: Payment Day (Amiga)- A very strange game that came about in a very strange situation. Originally, Mega Turrican was meant to be the main sequel to Turrican II, only done on consoles versus the computer. However, development and publishing shenanigans took so long that Super Turrican ended up being made around the same time and coming out before Mega, along with this game, a backport of Mega to the Amiga, mainly to squeeze some last funds out of Amiga fans. So, how does it play?

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Well, considering the QOL nature of the controls here, it plays just as great as the console variants if you want it to be, but using Amiga-era controls, it is a real clunker. A lot of stuff is intact, but a lot of things are cut or toned down, and using the grapple arm with a one-button setup is miserable. Still, the music remixes here are incredible, and offers a nice alternate take on the excellent score from Chris. The HUD looks absolutely hideous however, and is easily the one game where you will want to turn it off ASAP if you have any familiarity with the clean look of the Genesis original.

At the end of the day, Turrican 3 is a weird pick for this compilation, seemingly being nothing more than a useless variant of a great game, but as a historical piece, it is a very important step, for this was the final Turrican game for computers, marking the end of the era on a high note.

Mega Turrican (Genesis)- Hey, it’s the original Turrican 3! Introducing a grapple mechanics that’s a lot of fun to use, you get great stage layouts, excellent powerups, lots of fun alternate paths to pump up on extra lives, and even a secret level you can stumble upon! Not much to add here that I didn’t add covering Turrican 3 or the Flashback version, so how does the DC version stack? Well…

Mega Turrican Director’s Cut (Genesis)- So oddly enough, this was announced out of nowhere when the compilation came out, confusing a lot of people since Mega Turrican wasn’t rushed like Super. It actually has a proper final fight from the getgo, and was a well polished romp on release. So what does the DC version add to possibly make this better? Well, comparing my progress through both Mega and Mega DC, not too much, but it does tweak enough that you could call this the definitive experience regardless.

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For starters, some aspects from prototype versions of the game have been put back in. Nothing too crazy, but the biggest is that Mario and Sonic are frozen in capsules in Stage 1 here, when they weren’t in the final game. It’s a funny easter egg, yeah, but one I don’t blame them for cutting to be on the safe side back in the day. The next seems to be that the secret stage is now part of the normal lineup of stages, making the full adventure just a tad longer.

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…And that was all I could immediately notice. Mega Turrican was already an excellent game as is, so this just adds some polish on the top and calls it a day, and while some may find the lack of drastic changes a disappointment, I at least appreciate that this DC version didn’t just re-edit a prototype and call it a day like Super’s Director Cut did. If anything, that just shows how excellent this game was on the first attempt!

Super Turrican Score Attack (SNES)- Another score-chasing remix of a Turrican Game, this time based off Super Turrican! Yet again, the same concept as Mega Turrican’s remix applies, with your goal being to collect items throughout an expansive, unique stage as fast as possible in order to obtain the highest rank at the end.

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Unlike Mega’s Score Attack stage however, I find this one to be significantly weaker. For starters, this stage has some damn annoying hazards to throw at you: strong winds, lightning storms, spongey enemies, and a long stretch of bottomless pits that do not have the mercy of the ones in the Mega stage. This makes the Super stage significantly tougher than the other one, and not for the right reasons, I felt. All in all, Super Turrican Score Attack just feels sloppy and not as fun or as addicting as the Mega version, leaving this to be the weakest of the second set by far. The map is at least somewhat useful here!

Super Turrican 2 (SNES)- Hooo boy, here’s the selling point for these compilations alone for anyone that bought flashback. Only on Volume 2 comes Super Turrican 2, the late sequel to the original Super Turrican that ups the ante in every possible way, but at the cost of expansive levels in favor of linear, polished romps. You have a new, pleasing visual style with some cool pre-rendered effects for cutscenes, along with some hyper ambitious genre shifts at points. You also have both the freeze laser and the grapple hook to mess with, along with smart bombs and several powerup weapons! The game likes to shake things up a lot and offer some fun surprises, from mode 7 stages, to autoscrolling segments, to full-stage bossfights, though it can lead to the actual running and gunning portion feeling like an afterthought.

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Sadly for me, while I enjoyed the variety and the feel of the game, something about it just felt off. Maybe it was due to me really loving Mega Turrican, but the linear focus makes a lot of levels feel basic, with the genre shifts coming off as attempts to distract from this factor rather than giving the stages some extra polish. The game is technically impressive, but it also doesn’t feel too engaging. Still a solid action game nevertheless, but as the main motivating factor for a set of buyers?

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Honestly, I can see why they pushed this one to a bonus slot on this compilation, as it just doesn’t hold up to the first four at all. Heck, I even would consider the first Super Turrican more varied and fun despite the incompleteness of it all, and that’s a troubling thing for me. At the very least, I can see why there’s no alternate variants of this game, though it’s nice to see ST2 in a more affordable format. It should also be noted that out of all games in the sets, this is where the map feels the most useless, mainly due to the linear nature.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the second volume of the Turrican Anthologies didn’t hit as well for me as the first, which is surprising as I fully expected the opposite due to it containing an exclusive game! Yet, said game isn’t nearly as fun as the others, and as much as I love it, having three versions of Mega Turrican here is a bit overkill, even if I get why they included them. The Super Turrican Score Attack being a bit weaker also stings, and I ultimately feel that a combined SKU would have been better at the end of the day.

Still, these are well emulated and while the Map feature isn’t as handy as it was last time, it still is a very appreciated addition nevertheless. Recommended for Turrican fanatics or those wanting a cheap Super Turrican 2, but not for much else!

I give Turrican Anthology Vol II a 7 out of 10.

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