Genre: Run-‘N-Gun Developer: Factor 5 Publisher: Data East Players: 1 Released: 1995
Run-‘n-gun shooters are one of my favorite types of games. The overwhelming odds, awesome weaponry, humongous explosions; I love it all. Nothing is better for getting rid of a day’s stress or for those times when you just feel like killing thousands of nameless minions. While the genre seems to have taken a slight dip in popularity nowadays, there was a time when it was among gaming’s elite thanks to franchises such as the popular Contra and Ikari Warriors games. For many years though, Genesis owners had only Midnight Resistance to satisfy their cravings. In time, as companies got to know the hardware better, a slew of shooters arrived, giving the system some of its best games.
Mega Turrican ranks among the best in its class on the Genesis. That’s saying something, as it shares the same stage as classics such as Contra Hard Corps and the eternal Gunstar Heroes. Combining a well balanced mixture of fierce RnG action, exploration, and decent platforming elements, MT is a shooter fan’s delight.
The original Turrican was released for the Amiga, and was successful enough to warrant two more games for that platform. Eventually games in the series were released for over ten systems, including the NES, SNES, Game Boy, C64, and the PC-Engine. Factor 5, of Rogue Squadron fame, handled both games for the SNES, as well as the Genesis version.
At first glance, both the SNES and Genesis games seem identical. This is not the case. Some common elements and stages are shared but either title can stand on its own as a separate game in the series. I’ve always wanted to try Super Turrican 2 but never had luck finding a copy. After spending a night with the Genesis rev, my interest in getting one has risen sharply.
Playing as Bren McGuire, leader of the United Planets Freedom Force, you must stop the evil Machine from trying to take over the galaxy again (it was defeated once by Bren). A word to the wise when playing shooters: do not expect a deep storyline. Whether you play the last remaining ship of a dying planet, or a super hero armed with more weapons than North Korea, the emphasis in these games is definitely not placed on the plot. An enemy has appeared and you need to kill it. That’s all you need to know.
Armed with the powerful Turrican assault suit, Bren heads out to defeat the Machine once and for all through fifteen levels of intense action. The suit itself is pretty nifty, and can use a myriad of weapon upgrades that can be found in containers scattered in each stage. Multi-shots, huge lasers, and a rebound shot that bounces off walls are some of the icons that rise out once you release them. Hearts, 1ups, and a limited shield are also to be had. Placed all over each stage are diamonds that you can collect to add to your score. They really don’t do much more than that so you may not have a problem controlling your greedy tendencies.
The assault suit also comes equipped with a plasma rope that lets Bren reach high ledges and hidden areas. It can be aimed by holding A and moving the D pad. There are stages where you can only progress via the rope so you’ll need to get a handle on using it quickly. Additionally, holding the D pad down and pressing C activates the energy wheel; a ball-like attack where Bren can lay mines and roll into small openings. The wheel is only available for a limited time in each level, and the amount of time left is indicated by a bar underneath Bren’s energy. Pressing A while kneeling will unleash the smart bomb, which is Bren’s last line of defense and can only be used three times per stage.
Mega Turrican can’t match the sheer amount of color and detail found in the SNES games but it still looks great. The Genesis does a good job with the levels that are found in Super Turrican, such as the alien lair and city skyline. At least some parallax (the elevator stage comes to mind) or warping effect is used in each area, and some even have scaling. The variation and style of each stage is good and keeps the game from becoming visually repetitive. Bren is trying to save an entire world here, and he pretty much covers every type of surface a planetary body has to offer in the process.
The Machine spares no expense in trying to eliminate you and throws everything but the kitchen sink your way (I may have even seen that in level three). All sorts of creatures and creations have it in for Bren, ranging from crazed machines to even Alien rip-offs; face-huggers and all! The utter coolness of the alien stage will make you forgive the apparent property theft, and you’ll be so busy hunting for that 1up you saw but couldn’t reach that you won’t have time to consider calling 20th Century Fox.
Aside from your normal baddies, each stage is home to at least three or four mini bosses, many of which have multiple forms and are multi-jointed. Ahh, nothing says “I love you” like a multi-jointed boss! They’re not particularly hard, but are usually placed where you think you’d be safe. There’s no rest for the heavily armed here.
The music in Mega Turrican is quite good for what it is. Well composed and clear, it fits the game and captures the dark ambiance of each level. That doesn’t mean it’s the best music for this type of game though. Catchy melodies and rhythms are nice but I prefer hard riffs and deep bass in an action game to help keep me going. The soundtrack was one of the things I liked most about Midnight Resistance and MT ‘s tunes just seem to pale a bit next to that game.
The sounds of war are also somewhat mediocre, as nothing really stands out. I was most disappointed by the explosions. I couldn’t help but think “man, if only they sounded as good as they look.” The weapons are no audio picnic either. It was very underwhelming to see Bren fire this huge laser that made almost no sound. Big guns should make noise, darn it! To top it off, voice is almost non-existent, used only when you obtain a power up and for a garbled “emergency” message before each boss.
I’ve always enjoyed the Turrican games, even the first (which my friends said was too hard). Mega Turrican ups the ante and delivers fast paced action that will surely please any shooter fan. Games like this are a dying breed today, which is a shame, as blowing things up with big guns never gets old. If you have a Genesis (I refuse to believe anyone out there doesn’t!) get yourself a copy and have some mindless, senseless fun for a while.
SCORE: 8 out of 10