The Turrican Can

Mega Turrican

     Remember the end days of the NES? The SNES was gaining popularity and the Genesis was scrambling to keep up. At the same time, publisher made sure to make crappy throwback editions of new games, to make sure they could still have a foothold in the oversaturated NES market. The resulting boom saw some good, like Vectorman, and well, bad, from abortive attempts at multi-platform franchises. Like Alfred Chicken. Or in this case, Turrican.

     Turrican was the product of one of Data East's many attempts to make people believe they could make games without Karnov in them. I think there was a Turrican released sometime before all this mess, but the example I'm using here is the Genesis version, Mega Turrican. Because it was the easiest to find a rom image of.

     In a nutshell, Turrican is an intergalactic space warrior who battles a Galactus ripoff named The Machine in various exciting locales stolen from other games, with skills stolen from other heroes. For instance, in the NES/SNES Super Turrican, he could roll up into a ball. And here, he has a Bionic A- grappling hook, he uses to swing to places he can just as easily jump to. His in-game appearance is rather inconsistent at times, as he somehow manages to look more like his promo art in the NES iteration than in this Genesis one where he looks like one of the Spaceballs. At this point, I call your attention to The Turrican Picture.

     Somewhere in his contract with Data East, they decided he should only have one piece of promotional artwork for all game boxes and print ads. That's why I call it The Turrican Picture, one of the most-recycled graphics I can think of. He looks like a seriously depressed Megatron. Nothing screams action quite like a man in tres futuristic Battlestar Galactica armor yawning against some random background.

     I suppose I could make the rest of this article crappily-Photoshopped pictures of Turrican with his face on bathroom cleaners, but I 1) don't feel like it, 2) got discouraged trying to make a cover for Turrican Legends with some Megaman scans, and 3) think it's best left to the experts. I've said my peace..

     One of the biggest letdowns (in a Data East game? No way!) is the fact that the ads and reviews made it appear that Turrican was at least semi-nonlinear. I mean, they showed the sprite pointing LEFT in a screenshot. In actuality, there's no exploration or anything to that end; when you see him rolled into a ball going through a narrow passage, it's because he HAD to. I suppose the Gratuitous Corridor Scenes in the SNES game(s?) should have been a tipoff, but the venerable Guardian Legend managed to combine shooting stages and exploration rather nicely. You blow up boxes and collect special weapons stolen from both Contra and R-Type's bins, and fight lots of very generic alien hellbeasts. And when all else fails, Turrican employs the ancient art of jumping on enemies' heads, causing some of them to be squashed comically and run away screeching. Then there's the aforementioned grappling hook which makes clearing gaps as simple as stopping in your tracks, aiming, swinging back and forth a while, getting shot and falling, then giving up and jumping.

     What does the future hold for Turrican, then? At best, this meandering little bit will make him a running gag on gaming forums. And a limited theatrical release.

Which would be breathing without air.

The Machine. Against whom Turrican rages.

Unknown to Speed, Turrican is actually 'Bren McGuire.' At right, a woman dubbed 'beautiful' by artists more accustomed to slithering demons.