Defender of the Realm
Join Date: 12-19-99
Location: Maine, USA
Developer: Factor 5
Publisher: Data East
System: Sega Genesis
Release date: 1994
Review written: 10/18/2007
Mega Turrican is an amazingly good run-and-gun shooting game from Factor 5. Fresh off of porting the two original Commodore 64 versions of the first two Turrican games to the Amiga (and in the process adding the great Chris Huelsbeck soundtracks that helped make the games so famous), Factor 5 began development on third Turrican game, this time for the first time wholly their own creation. The result was the amazing Mega Turrican, released first on Genesis and then later ported to Amiga as Turrican 3. It was the last of three 'Turrican' games on the Genesis, 'Universal Soldier' being an altered version of Turrican 2, and it is perhaps the best.
Sound and music: Perhaps the greatest achievements in Mega Turrican are in the fields of graphics and sound. Factor 5, always great programmers in those categories, do typically amazing work in Mega Turrican. The game's introduction music is some of the best ever seen on the Genesis and the soundtrack just gets better from there -- the level 1 theme is perhaps even better than the intro music! This soundtrack is easily one of the best on the Genesis and is perhaps the best, period. Factor 5's Chris Huelsbeck is one of the best musicians in the industry, and, like most of Factor 5's games, this game benefits from it. 10/10.
Graphics: As with the audio, Factor 5 does an amazing job with Mega Turrican's graphics. The game is colorful when it should be, within the constraints of the Genesis' limited color pallet, and impresses with very detailed backgrounds, well designed enemies, some great parallax scrolling and very cool fire, weapon, and explosion effects. As far as Genesis cart games go, it doesn't get much better than this... simply beautiful work. There are very few Genesis games that can truly say they look as good as this one, and it's a total package -- every element of the graphics is done incredibly well. 10/10
Gameplay: In a perhaps welcome change from Turrican 1, or games like Gunstar Heroes or Contra: Hard Corps for that matter, Mega Turrican isn't overly difficult. In Turrican you have a health bar, so you are not worried about being hit by one single bullet. Harder difficulty levels increase the amount of damage you take per hit and reduce the number of continues you get. The game has four worlds which can be broken up into 12 to 15 levels, depending on how you count them, but many of the levels within each world are connected, separated just by a miniboss fight or a drop down a hole. Quite unlike the first two Turrican games, Mega Turrican is largely linear. Even though sometimes platform jumping or shooting is required to get there, and there are many hidden secrets to find, the main path is clear. This, and not the original huge, nonlinear stages of Turrican 1 and 2, is the formula that Factor 5 would stick with with its final two Turrican games, Super Turrican and Super Turrican 2 on the SNES. While in a way it's nice because it greatly reduces the frusteration and the amount of time it takes to complete levels, and makes it sure that you won't miss anything interesting (secret areas aside), it is kind of dissapointing because exploring the massive levels was one of the best parts of the first two Turrican games. As it is though, Mega Turrican is a very well constructed shooting game with great levels... so great, in fact, that the end seems to come far too soon. Reaching the end, my thought was 'So soon? But the game's just getting started...', and perhaps that's a good thing because it shows how well done the game truly is -- the action never lets up and never gets boring, and searching for the many secrets in an attempt to get all of the extra lives and crystals in each stage is great fun -- at the end of each world your totals are displayed, including how many crystals and lives you missed. This feature, new to the series here but replicated in the Super Turrican games, definitely adds replay value, for it makes you want to go back and find everything. Still, I have to mark it down for losing the interesting nonlinear stage designs of the first two games. 8/10
Controls/Game Design (Single Player): The game controls very well. If you die it's your fault, not the controls. The game is best with a six button pad -- the top three buttons activate your megabomb (this is mapped to pressing fire while ducking with a 3-button controller. How this game works on a one (or two?)-button Amiga joystick is beyond me...), while A, B, and C jump, shoot, and use the grappling whip, another new addition to the series. The series' three main weapons, a spreadshot, a bouncing shot, and a straight laser, are here and looking better than ever thanks to the great graphics. The bombs here are full-screen explosions, not power lines like in the previous games. The (Samus-like) ball form, entered with B while ducking, returns, though this time you have a meter which drains as you stay in ball form [in the first game, you could go into ball form three times per level, but each time could stay in it as long as you wanted; in game two ball form use was unlimited; the Super Turrican games used meters similar to this one's). The grappling hook, the new addition and replacing the freeze ray, is somewhat underused. It feels like an addition that they didn't quite know what to do with and most of the time you won't touch that button except for getting over specific pits or for finding some secrets. It also takes a little time to get used to; Bionic Commando this is not. When the rappling hook returned, in Super Turrican 2, it was done much better. They improved with practice I guess. 8/10.
Multiplayer: N/A. One player only.
Conclusion: Despite a few flaws, Mega Turrican is one of the best games of its kind on the Genesis. While it is easier than Vectorman 1 or 2 or Contra Hard Corps or Gunstar Heroes on Normal difficulty, for those who want a challenge Hard mode, with no continues, fewer hits before you die, and a higher difficulty level is waiting. The game is not easy, however; you do have limited lives and continues, so you will have to restart the game multiple times as you learn the parts farther in, as with almost any game of the period. You probably won't care, though, with a game as good as this one. In fact, you'll probably want to start right up again from the beginning so that you can experience the game again. It's that good.
Sound and music: 10/10
Overall (not an average): 92%. One of the Genesis' best.
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Currently Playing: Guild Wars (with expansions) (PC), Donkey Kong Country series (SNES), Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 1 and 2 (GBA), sometimes Warcraft III or Starcraft (PC) Mega Turrican and Universal Soldier (Genesis), various other stuff