Saturday, 5 April 2014

Super Turrican: A brief history

Turrican is a 2D series of run and gun games, originally developed by Manfred Trenz for the Commodore 64 computer. The first game in the series was released by Rainbow Arts in 1990.

The basic plot can be boiled down to "Space Marine survives attack and must destroy alien bad guy".

The game mechanic takes liberally from games like Contra and Metroid, even adding the ability to jump on top of some enemies like Mario. This is in no small part due to Trenz's love of arcade and console games, especially NES console games, which received little penetration in Europe in the 1980s and were all but impossible to develop for independently. Trenz's previous game credits included Katakis/Deuteros (a side scrolling shooter strongly influenced by R-Type and the quality of which was so good that it lead Activision, the rights holder for the official R-Type home computer ports, to hire Rainbow Arts and him to develop the C64 version of that game, after threatening to sue over the similarities between the two titles) and The Great Giana Sisters (an unabashed and very much unlicensed copy of Super Mario Bros. for the C64 that lead to threatened legal action and a recall of the game). Turrican combines many console like elements, such as the 8 way scrolling, morphing into a ball and secret areas of Metroid, with brand new ideas, like the laser whip to create a very action packed and fun game. Turrican 2 would later also add side scrolling space shooter levels to break up the games run and gun action.

While Trenz was responsible for the C64 and NES ports of Turrican, the 16 bit computer and console ports were assigned to the programming group Factor 5. The team that would later develop such games as Rogue Squadron and Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventure as well as the sound compression routines that allowed most N64 games to support speech. Factor 5 would take the reigns of the Turrican franchise, developing Turrican 3 on their own (replacing the laser whip with a bionic commando like grappling gun), as well as the SNES games Super Turrican and Super Turrican 2.

Super Turrican, released in 1993, (the game we are here for) is a mixture of game elements and level designs from Turrican 1 and 2, but executed with the artstyle of the almost simultaneously released Turrican 3 (and making it even more confusing, the cover art was taken from Turrican 2... ). the game received positive, if not extraordinary reviews at the time, having been limited by budget restrictions to a 4 Mbit cart and lacking additional game features which would have been more approrpiate for a game of its time.

The series would also see ports to the Turbografx 16, Genesis, Gameboy (reskinned to be a Universal Soldier tie in), Spectrum and Amstrad. Emulated versions of the games have also appeared on the Wii and mobile phones.

While talk of a Turrican return has floated for years and a 3D demo was shown in the mid 90s, there hasn't been any movement, and Trenz no longer owns the rights to the game.

Here is a link to a phenomenal summary of the series' evolution and entries:

No comments:

Post a Comment