Reviews Archive
         
  Turrican
 
 
 
  Graphics
         
    C64 Amstrad Spectrum
         
   
   
         
   
   
         
   
   
         
   
   
         
  Detail
 

C64 - The graphics here are very high quality for the C64, the texturing is detailed and very well done (especially some of the floor textures), and there's a lot of great shading.

Turrican is also filled with some of the most impressive, huge, screen-filling bosses, all of which move around the screen smoothly and at a fast pace, with no sprite flicker to speak of.

Amstrad - Pretty good overall and very respectable. It looks to me as though there's definitely some shared code between the Spectrum and Amstrad versions here, however, as opposed to the usual quick and dirty port the Amstrad version has been heavily optimised for the system with a ton of colour added over the top of the original Spectrum graphics, and a lot of the previously angular background elements have been curved and smoothed out.

There's a lot of good shading (in some sections its even slightly better than the C64 version), and everything is quite clear, the sprites also tend to look a little more detailed here, and during the jet pack stages you can clearly see the jet pack itself, unlike in the C64 version (see screenshot 2)

The bosses however are much smaller and less impressive than they were in the C64 version, and the graphics look a little more blocky in comparison because the resolution here is lower, on top of those issues this version also has a much bigger status bar which cuts into the gameplay area and makes the screens look slightly more empty than before.

Spectrum - The programmers have done a good job re-designing this version within the limitations of the system, they've decided to drop the scrolling and sprite movement down to 8x8 pixel increments to accommodate the Spectrum's colour clash limitations, allowing for more detailed and colourful sprites with a minimum of clash, and they've done a good job at including all of the little background effects, such as the waterfalls, and flame jets.

Whilst this is the highest resolution of the three versions this really doesn't stand out too much as this version's graphics are very sectioned off, making it actually look a little more blocky than the other two versions, it also looks very dithered, and gritty overall, like the Amstrad version this also suffers from the smaller viewing area, and less impressive bosses.

 
  Winner Is: C64
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  Colour
 

C64 - Colour in Turrican is never short of very respectable, and is impressive for the system, but is a little inconsistent in quality. Some levels have really excellent colour use (the ground on the first few levels is particularly noteworthy for it's quality), whilst a few of the later levels can look a bit washed-out and bland.

The shading is always very impressive, with very smooth and well blended textures for the metallic and organic themed stages, as already mentioned the ground texturing is also very good.

Amstrad - This is some very nice work, and must stand as some of the best use of colour seen in any Amstrad game from the time It's a pity so few programmers took the time to make games specifically for the CPC instead of just porting the Spectrum version, as just looking at Turrican is a testament to what the machine was capable of.

The colour use is much more over-the top here than in the understated C64 version. During the first levels it feels like it might be just a little too much, but as the game goes on the quality rises higher and higher, with some sections in later levels being a little more distinctive, and memorable than their C64 counterparts.

This version tends to have higher amounts of colour detail than the C64 version (see the plants in screenshot 1, and screenshot 3), but not always, as some of the metallic sections have fewer grey shades than in the C64 original.

Spectrum - Colours are quite garish, but for the most part they do the job fairly well, colour counts are lower than those of the C64 and Amstrad games, and overall this definitely looks the weakest.

On the upside though there seems to be next to no colour clash! the programmers have done a good job of making the graphics work well within the Spectrum's limitations, and overall the game comes out as being an admirably clear, and colourful Spectrum title.

 
  Winner Is: Amstrad
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  Animation
 

C64 - Very well animated. The sprites have loads of frames, and are very smooth, there's some background effects thrown in here and there too, such as waterfalls and flame jets

Amstrad - The animation here doesn't look too bad, and does its job, but in regards to the sprites in particular its very crude in comparison the the C64 version.

I do think the waterfall animation on the other hand actually looks a little better here though, the original C64 version's waterfalls looked more like white noise than anything else.

Spectrum - The weakest of the three but still respectable, the animation is passable, not bad but nothing special.

 
  Winner Is: C64
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  Scrolling
 

C64 - Very fast and smooth for a game with multi-directional scrolling, its extremely impressive, and there's even lots of very good parallax scrolling for many of the levels!

Amstrad - Scrolling is a good speed, and is pretty smooth too, though not as fast or smooth as the C64 version, still very impressive though, and most of the parallax is retained! (level 2's parallax is gone, but everything else seems there), the parallax effect isn't quite as good as it is in the C64 version, but its still very nice.

Spectrum - Generally this scrolls like the Amstrad version, but it doesn't move quite as quickly, making it look a bit less smooth overall. The parallax is the same here as the Amstrad too.

 
  Winner Is: C64
 
  Sound
   
  Music
 

C64 - Really, really good menu screen music (taken from the Transformers movie soundtrack), but unfortunately most of the levels are sound fx only (the only exceptions being the auto-scrolling shmup levels, which both have nice, high quality music playing throughout).

Amstrad - The Amstrad has no music, even on the jet pac levels its only sound fx.

Spectrum - No music, only sound fx.

 
  Winner Is: C64
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  Sound FX
 

C64 - Very good, the guns sound stronger and the sound fx generally fit better than any of the other versions.

Amstrad - This version has alright sound effects, they do a pretty good job.

Spectrum - Bad, weapons sound unnatural and weak.

 
  Winner Is: C64
   
Gameplay

C64 - Turrican is an action packed platform-shooter with loads of emphasis on searching through the huge levels to find secret areas and extra lives and pick-ups.

The game is smooth, and fast, and you get a lot of moves and weapons. On top of the default gun there's an energy whip (hold down the fire button), and you can also turn into an invincible gyroscope three times per life by pressing the space bar (this move may sound overpowered, but due to the level layouts, and the fact that you can't jump whilst in this form you're often forced to return to your human form to progress). On top of those default weapons you can also pick up new guns (spread shot, and laser), and upgrades for you energy whip which increase its length.

Apart from those elements there's also some level variety in the form of auto scrolling shmup-style levels, during which the player gets a personal jet pack and flys vertically through the stages, and the game is full of impressive boss fights and exciting set-pieces which were quite notable at the time.

All in all Turrican can be both a fun action game, and a nice game to sit down with and explore properly.

Amstrad - This version runs at a pretty good speed, but its nowhere near as fast and smooth as the C64 version, and there are a few minor issues with collision detection (most notable with retracting spikes, and the hovering snake-like enemy), and slowdown (mainly limited to the jet pac section thankfully).

Other than that this version is slightly less responsive, one or two of the lessor enemy types are missing, and the boss fights are notably worse (not only have they lost some of their original tension due to their smaller size, but some of them are actually missing their specific weak points, allowing you to defeat them simply by turning into a gyroscope for the duration of the battle without any possible risk to yourself).

On the upside though many of these problems really don't have too much of a bad effect on the gameplay, the game still plays very well, and the level designs seem to be complete for the most part. There are also a few welcome differences, such as the fact that the items stay around when they go offscreen (in the original C64 game if you saw an extra life and then scrolled it out of the screen even for half a second it wouldn't be there anymore when you returned), and the energy whip remembers the angle where you last left it, meaning that you can get it ready before needing it.

Spectrum - This is pretty much the same as the Amstrad game as the two seem to share a lot of code, so everything written there applies here too. The only real difference is that this version plays a little slower, but even with the slower pacing the game actually still plays quite well here due to the deliberate, explorative nature of the levels.

Winner Is: C64
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Presentation

C64 - Nice load screens, great menu music, digitised speech, some between level transitions (such as the elevator which takes you underground). All in all the game is well presented.

Amstrad - Missing the elevator, and the digitised speech.

Spectrum - Same as the Amstrad version.

Winner Is: C64
 
 
  Conclusion
 

Turrican was made and designed for the Commodore and it really shows, without hardware scrolling the other machines only just manage to keep the game running at a respectable pace, they lose much of the adrenaline fuelled gameplay of the original, and a lot of the level bosses look small and weak in comparison. Not to say the other versions are without merit though, in fact this is the opposite of the truth, both the Amstrad and Spectrum versions are still very good games, and the Amstrad version also often has the best graphics of the three (not always though).

I don't know what's more impressive, the fact that the C64 programmers made a game so fast and slick, or the fact that the Amstrad and Spectrum programmers got the game running as well as they did, parallax and all, without hardware scrolling, not to mention that the spectrum programmers also had to deal with working around colour clash on top of getting the game running at an adequate speed.

All versions of Turrican are fantastic technical achievements for their respective machines.

  Overall Winner Is : C64
 
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