Turrican Anthology Vol. I & II

A game compilation by Factor 5 for Switch, PS4, and PS5, originally released in 2022.
The original Turrican was created primarily by German developer Manfred Trenz and released by Rainbow Arts on the Commodore 64 in 1990, and then ported to numerous other systems. Notably, some ports of the game were handled by The Code Monkeys and others were handled by Factor 5, the studio that would go on to develop future entries in the franchise.
A graphically-enhanced Amiga port from Factor 5 arrived in 1991 with the addition of a soundtrack by Chris Huelsbeck (the original C64 release had sound effects but no music). The game was a great technology showcase for the 8-bit Commodore 64 and the 16-bit Amiga, providing visuals, animations, music, and fast-paced combat beyond what most action-platforming titles were delivering on those systems at the time.
The success of the original game allowed for a sequel in the following year, entitled Turrican II: The Final Fight, released on the Commodore 64 by Manfred Trenz by way of Rainbow Arts, and also ported to other systems. (The Factor 5 port of the Amiga version was actually the first to market). Home console versions of this game were adapted by The Code Monkeys and rebranded as Universal Soldier, an action film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lungdren, with sprites swapped out to represent characters, locations, and military themes from the film, and the shmup stages were cut and replaced with on-foot shooting stages.


In 1992, Manfred Trenz developed an NES game entitled Super Turrican, which was based on levels from the first two Turrican games, with Trenz also creating the score. The game is technically unrelated to the SNES game of the same name, although both feature similar stages. The new release added the ability for the player to run, but removed checkpoints, thus requiring a full level restart upon death (additionally punishing due to the large size of the levels), although the player was no longer killed by running out of time. The weapon system and infinite use of the morph ball-style wheel were modeled after the second game.


Mega Turrican was Factor 5’s first release, developed for the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) and released in 1994, with the port to Amiga alternately named Turrican 3 or Turrican III: Payment Day . (Again, the Amiga version was the first to market – releasing in 1993 – despite the Genesis version being the primary platform.)


Factor 5 developed Super Turrican for the Super Nintendo, which released in 1993. The proximity to the release of Mega Turrican may have given players the impression that these were two versions of the same game with “Super” or “Mega” tacked onto the front to represent their respective platforms, but in actuality, Super Turrican primarily consists of remixed levels from the first two Turrican games, along with volcano- and ice-themed areas. A proper sequel – and ultimately the final game in the classic series – was developed by Factor 5 for the SNES, simply entitled Super Turrican 2, which was released in 1995 and featured more linear level designs. Development was started on additional series entries, but were subsequently cancelled.


Factor 5 reacquired the rights to the Turrican franchise in 2017 and returned to take the reins once again with Turrican Flashback, Turrican Anthology Vol. I, and Turrican Anthology Vol. II. The Turrican Flashback collection includes Turrican, Turrican II, Super Turrican, and Mega Turrican, while Turrican Anthology Vol. I & II include the entire series (minus the NES entry), plus several bonuses and added features. Notably, Mega Turrican and Turrican 3 are included as separate releases, and new Director’s Cut and Score Attack versions have been released for Super Turrican and Mega Turrican.

Turrican Anthology Vol. I includes:
  • Turrican (Amiga)
  • Turrican II (Amiga)
  • Super Turrican (SNES)
  • Super Turrican Director's Cut (SNES)
  • Mega Turrican Score Attack (Genesis)
Turrican Anthology Vol. II includes:
  • Turrican 3 (Amiga)
  • Mega Turrican (Genesis)
  • Mega Turrican Director's Cut (Genesis)
  • Super Turrican 2 (SNES)
  • Super Turrican Score Attack (SNES)
This pair of anthologies includes Amiga, console, and modern control options for all games (which are fully remappable), allowing the player to use controller inputs for functions that were previously executed with keyboard commands or button cycling, as well as a dedicated JUMP button rather than pressing UP on the controller, and the ability to aim the laser freely. An optional rewind feature allows the player to reverse time to replay any given section, making it easier for modern gamers to complete challenges that players of the era had to overcome through memorization or trial and error.
Bonus content includes the ability to select between the emulated soundtrack, the anthology version of the soundtrack, or a remastered soundtrack from the original composer, Chris Huelsbeck, as well as a jukebox mode to listen to your favorites. Players can now pause and scroll across the entire game map and toggle layers on and off to display secrets, pickups, enemies, etc. It’s even possible to play a zoomed out version of the game where the surrounding map is visible outside the gameplay window, allowing players to view a much larger portion of the environment.
Players are able to view manual scans for each game, as well as unlock concept art, some of which was previously unreleased. The game includes options for save states, cheat codes (including some new unlockable cheats), and the ability to add scanlines and curvature to mimic CRT monitors, while also allowing players to opt for a pixel perfect display, and some new opacity options. Players may also adjust the games' colors and aspect ratio, and select between wallpapers and dynamic HUD options. It’s worth noting that several of these features – including the navigable map, map overlay, advanced controls, manual scans, gallery, alternate soundtrack, and jukebox options – are not available in the Turrican Flashback collection.

Turrican takes place in the distant future in a nearby galaxy on the planet of Alterra, a harmonious world that finds its peaceful ways ended suddenly by a massive earthquake. Now, the sentient A.I. that once kept the their systems running has turned against its creators, unleashing mechanical monstrosities upon them. The Alterrans' only hope is a biomechanical warrior called Turrican, who makes use of an array of weapons and a Metroid-like morph ball, allowing it to explore every corner of the landscape and lay waste to enemies and bosses, in order to once again bring peace.
The player has a very responsive 2x variable jump, which is a trademark of the series, with the ability to fire left or right while standing, jumping, or ducking, and he has access to a wide array of weaponry. For starters, the player’s default single shot rifle can be upgraded to a 3-way shot and then a 5-way shot by collecting the appropriate powerups, or he can collect a different set of powerups to switch to a laser that offers a narrow but incredibly powerful beam. All of these weapons are set to auto-fire.
Another series trademark is a solid energy beam that emerges from the tip of the player’s weapon and can be rotated 360 degrees by pressing LEFT or RIGHT (control options in the anthology allow for free aim with the analogue stick). The beam causes continuous damage to anything it touches, allowing the player to wear down tough enemies or bosses, and it also gives him an option for targeting enemies above or below him since he can only fire his projectile weapons horizontally. By default, the beam has a medium range, but collecting powerups allows the player to extend its reach all the way across the screen. The beam can only be used while the player is standing still on solid ground.
The player also has access to several secondary weapons (three each to start) that can be stockpiled by collecting powerups that pop out of hidden blocks when the player shoots them, hits them with his energy beam, or bumps them with his head. Powerups occasionally appear in containers that move in sine wave patterns like those in Contra... except that these hurt you if you touch them. That said, death comes fast in this game, so building a huge stockpile of secondary weapons is often not possible or terribly useful, since the player regains his starting allotment each time he respawns.

Secondary weapons include mines, lines, and bombs. Mines can be dropped in place and explode after a few seconds, killing ground-based onscreen enemies. Lines extend outward from the player’s position wiping out onscreen enemies on the ground or in the air. Grenades are incredibly powerful weapons that explode when coming in contact with solid objects or bosses (they penetrate regular enemies), causing massive damage. Having a few bombs on hand can quickly turn the tides of a boss fight in your favor.
The player also has the incredibly useful – albeit somewhat unwieldy – ability to take the form of a wheel, another series trademark. With the press of a button, the player character transforms into a spinning bladed wheel that is not unlike the morph ball in the Metroid series. While in this form, the player can still fire his primary and secondary weapons, and he is able to fit through narrow passages leading to secret rooms filled with gems or powerups. Additionally, he becomes completely invincible, allowing him to saw through enemies with ease. But there is a drawback: the player cannot stop moving while in this form, but rather can only change directions to the left or right. Also, hitting a solid object causes the wheel to reverse direction, and the fast movement speed makes it easy to accidentally roll off a ledge and into a bottomless pit. The player can exit this form by pressing the JUMP button, but he is limited to using it only three times per life.
The game’s large bounding box requires that the player get very close to the edge of the screen before it scrolls, meaning that he is likely to be surprised by fast-moving enemies as they are scrolled into view with little time to react, and the player is often left to make blind jumps to reach offscreen platforms or drop down into pits without knowing what is below. As a result, the game is very much one of trial and error (issues mediated by the rewind function in the anthology) meant to be completed by expert players who have committed level layouts to memory and who know the locations of hidden powerups and 1UPs.
The game is comprised of 13 levels across five themed areas, and these levels are absolutely loaded with hidden rooms, invisible blocks containing powerups, secret 1UPs, temporary invincibility pickups, and gems. Invisible blocks dispense a boatload of powerups before they disappear – most quickly dispensed by using your energy beam – but they can alternately be used as platforms to reach even greater secrets. Most levels are massive in scale and are completely open for exploration, with only the level timer limiting the player. That said, running out of time only causes the player to lose a single life and respawn at a nearby safe space, which is also the case when getting killed by an enemy or a level hazard, so the player is generally free to disregard the timer so long as he has enough lives in stock. Players who fully explore the environment will find themselves rewarded with 1UPs and occasionally with shortcuts that allow them to bypass large swaths of dangerous enemies and obstacles.
The player’s starting allotment of three lives offers little respite in the hands of novice players, not only for the overall difficulty of the game and the insta-death traps, but also in the way that health is handled. In most games with health meters, the player is stunned when taking damage and then experiences a period of temporary invincibility to allow him a chance to recover. In Turrican, on the other hand, the player loses health continuously as long as he is touching an enemy or a hazard. If the player doesn’t move away from danger quickly, it’s possible to be killed by even the tamest of foes, and getting overwhelmed by enemies is a recipe for a quick death.
Bosses are relatively simple in their design, mostly consisting of large mechanical constructions that slam downward to cause contact damage while occasionally firing projectiles. Given their size, it can be difficult to get away from them before your health bar is drained, so battles are mostly about steering clear of their movements while taking any chance you have to deliver some damage. Getting killed allows you to respawn and continue the battle where you left off, so getting killed by a boss isn’t necessarily as punishing as it is in other games. Strangely, not all levels have bosses, and not all bosses appear at the end of the level, as some may appear in the middle of the level or even at the start. There’s even an optional boss encounter to be found.
While level designs are generally open, some are more vertically oriented and some are more horizontal in design. Platforming is made more challenging by the fact that the player can’t jump up through the bottoms of platforms but must rather jump around them, which requires very precise movement and can lead to the player falling down as he makes repeated attempts to move upward. There are even a couple of jetpack sequences where the player scrolls automatically upward or downward while facing enemies, which is made more difficult by the fact that the player can only shoot to the left or right, and the player faces instant death if he is scrolled off the screen (with a nearby respawn, as in normal levels).
World 4 is particularly notable, as it eschews the mechanical themes and instead offers some kind of monstrous lair built out of bones, spinal columns, and veins. Here, platforms often appear at angles, making it difficult to find your way forward, and the area is filled with slithering worms, dripping goo, and floating skulls, with a grotesque boss creature at the end. This area has no music but rather features ambient sounds of blowing wind, offering a more ominous atmosphere compared to the upbeat music accompanying the running and gunning in the rest of the game.
The overall design of the levels is meant to represent a single cohesive world where the player lands on the surface of a planet, dives into the caverns below, traverses an enemy base, and moves into a dark underground lair before completing his final ascent through a gigantic tower to reach the final boss. The player only sees the tower during the game's short ending cutscene, but an illlustrated map of the world appeared on the back of the box for several of the European releases of the game.

Turrican II: The Final Fight takes place in a more distant galaxy known as Aldebaran 42. A peaceful federation of planets has united for the common good, maintaining order and setting out on missions to explore new planets and discover new life forms. The United Planets Freedom Forces launches a starship called the Avalon-1 to carry out this mission, but the explorers soon encounter an adversary known as The Machine, who attacks the ship. All of the crew are killed, save Bren McGuire, who dons the Turrican armor to defeat this terrible enemy. While the original game featured no story beyond what appeared in the instruction manual and a short ending sequence, this game has an introductory cinematic that establishes its story, as well as the hero and primary villain.
The game offers identical jumping and movement controls to the original, with some changes to the weapons. The 3-way and 5-way shot upgrades are still in place, but the laser has been changed to an arc-shaped projectile that can be powered up to be as large as the player character. A new weapon appears in the form of a bounce shot that splits into smaller projectiles when it hits a solid object, and those smaller projectiles bounce quickly around the area, making the weapon most effective in tight enclosed spaces. The screen-clearing line weapon is still available, but the mines and grenades have been removed. In their place is an incredibly powerful super attack that can be performed once per life – and the player can stockpile up to five such attacks – morphing the character into his invincible wheel form, which then flies all over the screen blasting in multiple directions.
The energy beam is still in place, but now the player character animates to show him aiming in different directions as he swings the beam around him, despite the fact that he is incapable of aiming any of his other weapons. A significant change in the second game is that the wheel form may be used infinitely, and rather than firing regular weapons, the player now drops mines, further cementing the similarities to the Metroid series’ morph ball. Since the player is invincible in this form, and it can be used as often as he likes, it’s an even better tool for scouting the environment and dealing with some powerful enemies, which significantly reduces the challenge in some areas. There are also some places where the player is required to use the wheel to make progress, whereas its use was optional in the original game.
The game is divided into 11 levels across five themed worlds, and these levels are as large and sprawling as they were in the original game, if not more so. The opening area is very similar to that of the original game, with the player starting on the rocky surface of a planet before exploring its caves, but the environments are somewhat more complex. For instance, the opening area features wind that pushes you backwards near a cave entrance, forcing you to find another route to the level’s midboss. There are now beehives that spawn infinite flying enemies until they are destroyed, enemies that you can jump on to stun them, falling block traps over bottomless pits, flowing water and conveyor belts that push you along, and a sequence where you have to ascend a shaft by timing your jumps with gusts of air. There are even some underwater sections where the player may move freely in any direction, although he is limited to shooting left and right, and he cannot use his beam weapon or wheel form.
At the game’s midpoint, in World 3, the player hops aboard a spaceship and begins a horizontal shmup sequence (with an R-Type-style drone pod that appears during the takeoff sequence, referencing the developer’s previous game, Katakis). In most non-shmup games that include shmup sequences, these tend to be pretty weak compared to other shooters, but that is not the case here. This is a full-fledged shmup that could very well stand on its own if it were longer than three levels. It also lacks a bit of oomph since your bullets pass through enemies and you can fly through solid objects with the penalty of quickly draining your health.
The shmup levels carry over the same basic weapon set as the rest of the game with a 3-way shot, laser, and bounce shot, as well as the screen-clearing line weapon and a Gradius-style shield. The bounce shot is pretty useless during the straightforward horizontal levels, but it’s absolutely necessary during the second level, which sees you moving in multiple directions through jagged corridors with enemies coming from every direction. The shmup sequence features a trio of boss battles, including two bosses that segment into pieces, and there’s a challenge in the third level where you must navigate narrow branching passages at super high speeds, requiring quick reflexes… or at least the skill to grab a 1UP or two as you go jetting past them.
World 5 stands out for its creepy theme (similar to World 4 of the previous game), this time leaning even more heavily toward H.R. Giger’s artwork, going so far as to rip off alien eggs, face huggers, and xenomorphs with extending inner mouths from Alien series. There are some unique enemies here as well, including creepy eyeball creatures that walk around on giant humanoid fingers. Instead of background music, this area features a pumping heartbeat and growling monster sounds, and this time the final tower ascent takes place within this monstrous lair, with the ending sequence revealing a massive ship partly buried in the ground… and some humorous entries in the end credits.
As before, the player begins with three lives and the wide bounding box leaves him open to be surprised by fast-moving enemies, and he must perform some blind jumps, with foreknowledge required to overcome certain obstacles, leading to plenty of trial and error (or use of the rewind feature included in the anthology). Levels are still timed, causing the player to lose a life if the timer runs down – which is almost certain to happen if the player explores every corner of the level – but the player respawns close to the point where he was killed. There are still lots of secrets to be found for those traveling off the beaten path, including powerups, 1UPs, health restoratives, temporary invincibility pickups, screen-clearing smart bombs, and gems, although this game significantly tones down the total number of gems in any given level. There are also some shortcuts and an optional boss encounter.
Bosses are more interesting this time around, offering more complex movement patterns beyond simply smashing the player to death. Players must now dodge projectiles and other obstacles, and concentrate their firepower on specific weak points in order to take bosses down. One boss features a number of destructible turrets, a weak point at its central core, and extending claws that can reach out and grab you, dropping you into a bottomless pit. Another boss is a robot that jumps around the room causing stalactites to fall from the ceiling, and you can use its gun as a platform to blast it in the face.

Mega Turrican follows the events of the previous game. Bren McGuire has singlehandedly defeated The Machine using the Turrican armor and returns home as a hero. With this great enemy eliminated, humanity once again returns to its peaceful ways… but years later The Machine somehow rises up once again, setting its sights on the planets under the protection of the United Planets Freedom Forces. Bren McGuire responds to this crisis, taking up the mantle of savior as he dons the Turrican armor to face mankind’s greatest enemy once more, this time with a grappling hook added to his loadout in place of the energy beam.
This is the first game in the series to be developed without Manfred Trenz, and it is structurally quite different than the first two. For one, it is far more linear. There are still secret passages to be found containing 1UPs and gems, but these tend to be small alcoves or short side paths that quickly reconnect to the main route through the level, as compared to sprawling alternate paths and shortcuts. Secondly, there are three difficulty settings, allowing the player to tone down (or increase) the challenge should he so desire. Thirdly, the player now has a segmented energy bar and has a moment of invincibility before taking additional damage, which is quite unlike the quickly-draining meters of games past.
Finally, the addition of the grappling hook substantially slows the pace in areas where its use is required. Rather than allowing the player to press a button to instantly fire and connect to surfaces, the game instead requires a button press to initiate the action - with the ability to rotate 360 degrees - and letting off the button fires the grapple line. Building up momentum to swing back and forth, and reeling in and out are very slow to execute, and the player must swing around platforms to mount them instead of swinging up through platforms as in Bionic Commando. Additionally, the grappling hook can only be fired while standing still on solid ground. As a result, only dedicated secret hunters will find themselves using it except when it is absolutely required. Furthermore, it’s difficult to use the grapple line when anything else is happening onscreen, as taking damage disconnects the line and causes the player to fall.
Beyond this, the basics of movement are similar to the first two games, with a slightly floatier jump, and a smaller bounding box that allows the player to see more of what’s ahead as he scrolls the screen forward. This makes for a more balanced experience as the player is less likely to be surprised by enemies or traps (and he has temporary invincibility to help him recover), and he is less often required to make blind jumps. Consequently, there aren’t as many 1UPs to be found this time around, as they are less necessary to complete the game. Gone is the screen-clearing line weapon in favor of a more standard screen-clearing smart bomb, and the wheel form is once again limited, this time by a meter that drains as long as it is being used.
The player can drop mines in the wheel form, though the mines look more like actual mines than the flashing Metroid-like orbs from the previous game, and in a nice touch, the player can drop bombs while the wheel is in the air. But there’s less need to use the wheel in this game, as most challenges can be overcome by way of traditional running and shooting. Also, the wheel form can be initiated with a button press or by pressing DOWN and JUMP, which makes it likely that the player will accidentally engage it when transitioning from a duck to a jump, potentially causing him to fall down and lose progress.
Powerups are now color-coded red, green, or blue icons, and they all appear in chests that are clearly displayed instead of the invisible blocks offered in previous games. The 3-way shot is still in place and is upgradable to 6-way, whereas the arc/laser shot is now a green plasma blast, and it can be upgraded to the size of the player character. The bounce shot has been changed to fire projectiles forward, upward, and downward, with upward and downward shots bouncing along the floor and ceiling. A new weapon comes in the form of missiles that are fired whenever the player shoots (which is almost all the time since weapons are set to auto-fire by default). These missiles – up to three onscreen at once – hone in on enemies, making them a suitable replacement for the missing energy beam, as the player can now attack enemies above and below his position while remaining on the move.
The game is divided into 15 levels across five themed areas, plus one additional hidden level accessible from the first level (this hidden area appears as a standard level in the Director's Cut). There’s a nice opening cinematic featuring some animations as the hero of the story is introduced. The level format is more traditional this time around, featuring mid-level minibosses and tougher bosses appearing at the ends of levels. In general, boss designs are more interesting, if not much more complex than the previous outing, but the game does a poor job at communicating to the player that he is causing damage.
There's a metallic sound when bullets make contact, but bosses don't flash, react, or change color when hit. In particular, a bipedal boss in World 3 walks back and forth as you shoot it in what appears to be its weak point, when in actuality, you have to run behind it and climb on top to find its actual weak point. Granted, this is a cool way to take down a boss, but the need to do so is not communicated to the player… and even the player’s heat-seeking missiles don’t land on the boss’ weak point.
The first world features a number of organic enemies, with specimen tubes that the player can break open, and a mixture of organic and robotic foes throughout the level. The layout wraps back in on itself quite a bit, and there are elevators to move quickly between platforms. The level features a giant worm midboss and a mass of flesh, eyes, and mouths as the final boss of the area. There's a lot more going on visually than in previous games, with more background details and flying particles, creating an overall busier-feeling experience.
Visual complexity increases in the second area, which features tilting platforms, falling water, and sections where the player alternates repeatedly between platforming and swimming while dodging projectiles, shooting enemies, and avoiding electric eels that zap the water around them. This eventually gives way to a fully underwater area where the player is able to swim freely, ending in a cool fight against a giant octopus.
The third area kicks off by having the player jump between platforms hanging from flying ships before descending to a ruined world where he faces lots of robots amidst the piles of junk, including a return appearance by the giant fist from the first game. Following the tradition of previous games, the fourth area has a Giger/Alien theme featuring biomechanical designs and slanted platforms, with eggs, face huggers, and actual xenomorphs as enemies, with what appears to be the queen from Aliens as the area boss. There’s also a traditional rooftop train sequence in this area, except that the trains are made up of bones and flesh.
The final area has something of a factory theme with conveyor belts and nuts spinning up and down along bolts… and hurting you if you get pinched against the floor or ceiling. While there is some cumbersome grappling required in the Giger-themed area, there’s lots more grappling required here, often while the player is attempting to shoot enemies and avoid projectiles, making for a slow and somewhat frustrating final run to the final fight against The Machine.

Turrican 3 is… well, it’s Mega Turrican for the Amiga. The Genesis version was the lead platform for development, so this is a port, despite the fact that the Amiga version had an earlier release date. The visuals for the backgrounds are far less detailed than the Genesis original, many graphical flourishes are removed, and the HUD shrinks the field of view slightly, but the Amiga version offers the strong soundtrack that the series was known for on that platform.
Players of the Amiga version also had to contend with the limited controller options on that system, so some concessions were made (like pressing UP to jump). However, the anthology offers the option to play this version of the game with console controls, so that isn’t a factor here. With the inclusion of both Mega Turrican and its Amiga variant, it’s odd that the anthology doesn’t include NES version of Super Turrican for the sake of completion.

Mega Turrican Director's Cut offers a slightly expanded version of the original Mega Turrican experience, with the biggest difference being that a former hidden level in the first area is now included in the content of the main game. It's a very minor addition. Oh, and you get to see Mario and Sonic who are apparently frozen in carbonite.

Mega Turrican Score Attack consists of a single large level unique to this version of the game where you attempt to collect as many items as possible and make it to the end of the level quickly. Points are awarded for your score within the level, remaining time, remaining lives, and number of gems collected. The level requires expert use of your platforming, shooting, and grappling abilities.

Super Turrican takes place on the planet of Katakis (Katakis is also the name of a shmup developed by Manfred Trenz) that has fallen under attack by The Machine, which begins freezing the planet’s inhabitants and rebuilding the planet to some unknown purpose. Those who manage to escape The Machine's freeze beam send out a distress call, and the message is received by the Avalon-1 (the ship from Turrican II), piloted by the legendary hero wearing the Turrican armor. He arrives on Katakis to fight The Machine once more, this time adding a new weapon that allows him to freeze enemies in place.
The movement and weapon systems are almost identical to those in Mega Turrican except that weapon levels now have three upgrade tiers. The screen-clearing line weapon returns, as does the wheel, which operates and controls in the same way and is limited by a meter that drains for as long as the player is in this form. Gone is the grappling hook, and the energy beam returns… sort of. The beam no longer harms enemies but rather freezes them in place for a few seconds, allowing the player to follow up with a standard weapon to destroy them. This has somewhat less punch than being able to rotate a beam of death across enemies and bosses (bosses are not affected by the freeze beam), but it helps the player get past swarming enemies and avoid some cheap hits.
Like Mega Turrican, this game features a smaller bounding box, giving the player a better view of the dangers ahead, and it features Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulty modes. The game is divided into 15 levels across five themed areas, with summary screens at the end of each. As with the previous game, the player now has a health bar with individual units and a short period of invincibility to recover from damage. And, in a first for the series, the audio is presented in Dolby surround sound. Invisible blocks from the first game are back – with upgraded visuals – allowing the player to collect powerups, health restoratives, and temporary invincibility pickups from them, and they can be used as platforms as well. Some stages feature the series' trademark nonlinear exploration, allowing the player to go off the beaten path in search of gems and 1UPs.
Super Turrican is less a standalone entry in the series and more of a remix of the games that came before it, with most levels being themed after the first two games, and the final level themed as the Giger-esque alien lair. You’ll mostly be fighting the same enemies here as in previous games, and facing some of the same bosses that can be defeated with the same strategies. As a new player coming into this game for the first time, it provides a great look at the history of the Turrican series, but for someone experiencing it as part of a comprehensive anthology, it's mostly a retread.
The opening area sees you facing the same walking enemies and enemy-spewing beehives from the first two games, and even re-fighting the gauntlet boss from the original game and the robot boss from the second game. You also contend with water that pushes you along, wind currents that slow your forward movement, and even a wind-based vertical shaft challenge that is nearly identical to the one in Turrican II, except that it is now in a snow-themed area.
The snow area is one of two new themed areas, the other of which is a volcano area where you ride moving platforms along rivers of lava as you pass through melty lava tubes and dodge falling stalactites. In the snow area, you contend with giant snowballs, slick surfaces, and instant death if you fall into the water. These new themed areas are more linear than the others.
Each of the games in the Turrican series has featured a Giger-esque alien lair, and that is the case here as well, with the visuals lifted almost directly from Mega Turrican, except that the background no longer warps but rather occasionally pulses. There are also some rolling ball enemies that shoot projectiles, and these can be hard to deal with in confined spaces with lots of angled platforms, and their slow-moving projectiles can block your path forward. This world also features the bone train sequence and a final fight against the same alien queen that appeared in Mega Turrican… and then the game just ends.
In all of the other Turrican games, the alien lair always preceded the ascent to reach the final boss. In Mega Turrican, the player faced off against The Machine as the final boss, and The Machine is also the villain of this game, at least according to the intro. When you finish the game, an image is displayed of The Machine fading out with a note stating that it had been beaten... but there is no final ascent, and The Machine never actually appears in the game. The game just abruptly ends with the alien queen and no explanation of how The Machine was supposedly defeated.

Super Turrican Director's Cut is something of an anomaly. Back when Super Turrican was in development, some of the game’s content had to be cut in order to fit on a 4 megabit cartridge, which resulted in several changes, including an entire level being cut from the final product. Decades later, Factor 5 was able to release the full version of the game on Analogue’s Super Nt console, which was an exclusive release at the time, since Nintendo would not allow the cut content to be released on the Wii Virtual Console (VC games were required to match their original commercial versions).
The director’s cut includes some changes to enemy placement, an expanded level, and the level that was removed entirely. Unfortunately, this reintegrated content isn’t an endgame level that fills in the gaps of the original’s abrupt ending. As a result, the game offers a very similar experience to the SNES original.

Like the other score attack in this anthology, Super Turrican Score Attack is a bonus level of sorts, consisting of a large custom level where you attempt to collect everything and get to the exit as quickly as possible for maximum points. Players get points for gems, lives, and any time remaining on the clock at the end of the level.

As Super Turrican 2 begins, The Machine is fleeing through the galaxy, presumably due to his continued assault by the man in the Turrican armor. While hurtling through space, he stumbles across a solar system orbiting a black hole and immediately unleashes his wrath upon its inhabitants. A few survivors manage to send a distress signal, which is once again received by the Avalon-1, and three ships are sent to answer the call. The three ships dive into a black hole, but only one makes it to the other side, and it is badly damaged. The ship crash lands on a desert planet, but the pilot is protected by his Turrican armor – a newly designed red and blue armor with huge shoulder plates – and he immediately dashes into the fray.
The game is a linear experience for the most part, with only a few areas off the beaten path, and only one level that requires exploration to move forward. The rest of the game sees the player moving primarily from left to right – or into the screen during the many Mode 7 sequences – and the on foot action is frequently broken up with vehicle-based levels. In fact, the game is structured more like a Contra experience, with numerous fast-paced reaction-based challenges, several setpiece boss encounters, and fewer branching paths and secrets. Now, “like Contra” is hardly an insult, but this is certainly the least “like Turrican” entry in the series.
Weapons are simplified with just different weapon types rather than multiple power levels. There’s a spread gun with a wide spread, a focused laser, a very powerful flamethrower with a slightly shorter range, and a weapon that fires bouncing projectiles. The bouncing projectiles are quite useful in tight quarters where they crawl along surfaces, but the weapon is comparatively weak when fighting in open spaces. There are also homing missiles that act as a supplement to your equipped weapon (as in Mega Turrican), firing very weak homing shots that help you get in a few extra hits and tackle enemies that are out of reach of your other projectiles.
As in Super Turrican, your laser freezes enemies, allowing you to get in extra hits, or use the enemies as platforms, and a smart bomb kills all regular enemies on the screen. The wheel makes you invincible while in use, and you can drop mines and bombs in this form, but it has a limited energy meter that is restored between levels. Due to the more linear and horizontally-oriented levels, the wheel isn’t quite as useful as it was in previous series entries.
A grappling hook lets you latch onto the ceiling, extend, and swing, and you can even use it to work your way up vertical surfaces. It works differently from Bionic Commando and similar games where you swing, disconnect, and swing again. Instead, you tap the GRAPPLE button to immediately retract your grapple arm and latch onto the next point, so repeated presses allow you to swing continuously across the ceiling. You have a lot of control over the speed of your swing, and you can quickly reel in and out, and fire while grappling, making these sequences much speedier than the grappling portions of Mega Turrican. There are even a couple of grapple-based boss encounters – including one against a huge robot spider, because video games – where you must use your agility to dodge projectiles while delivering return fire.
The player has limited lives, which may be restored by collecting 1UPs, or by collecting 30 gems. Health is also restored by collecting the occasional heart pickup, and health is restored between levels. There are lots of insta-death traps and bottomless pits, so it’s easy to go through lives quickly, but the player does still have a few seconds of temporary invincibility when taking damage. The game features Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulty settings.
When you’re not running and gunning, you’re usually driving, and you'll find yourself controlling vehicles of various sorts every two or three levels. There’s a 6-wheel buggy in the opening area that goes super fast and fires homing missiles, and you spend part of the level collecting gems and the rest fighting enemies. Your homing missiles are weak, but you can actually use the buggy to jump on enemies for an instant kill. There’s also a horizontal forced scrolling underwater sequence later in the game where you must shoot (or avoid) sea mines, and eventually face off against a giant manta.
There are several Mode 7 driving sequences, including two rocketbike levels and an underwater vehicle level. In these sequences, you drive into the screen while dodging obstacles and fighting enemies… but usually not at the same time. In the rocketbike levels, you’re dodging lasers and also trying to keep from running into the walls on either side, which drain your health quickly. There’s even a rocketbike boss fight where you dodge a drill and then repeatedly ram into the boss to defeat it. The underwater vehicle sequence plays out more like S.T.U.N. Runner, where you slide up along curved walls as you move through what appears to be a whirlpool and avoid sea mines in various configurations.
There are sidescrolling sequences in this same subaquatic vehicle, and these play out in a large level that focuses entirely on exploration. Here, you move through an underwater cave system and hunt for four openings that lead inside an enemy base. One of these openings leads to the exit, but the exit is blocked by three lasers. Only by entering the other three openings and destroying the power generators will these lasers be disabled. There are brief on-foot sections as you leave your vehicle to take down these generators, but the rest of the time you’re moving underwater and firing torpedoes at enemies.
Toward the end of the game there’s a vertical shmup sequence that is a clear homage to Axelay, with the visuals rolling over the horizon and stretching down the screen as you go. Gameplay here is a bit simple as you face the same set of enemies and obstacles again and again, and you only have your 3-way spread gun for the duration of the experience. Fortunately, you don’t take damage by running into obstacles, but you are killed instantly if you are pushed off the bottom of the screen, so you need to look out for weak spots in horizontal structures to destroy them before you run into them.
There’s a fair amount of variety in the on-foot sections as well, which helps to make up for the lack of exploration. The player must outrun hazards in a couple of levels, run against the force of huge energy beams, fight enemies while hanging from the bottom of a flying ship, and jump between a series of launching rockets. Bosses are fairly mobile and have multiple attack types, with some presented during the traditional run and gun sections, and others appearing in vehicle or Mode 7 sequences. There’s even a Mode 7 boss in the form of a rotating mouth that spins around like a tumble dryer while you flop around inside and try to attack its tongue… and it’s about as easy to navigate as you’d expect from fighting inside a tumble dryer, but it made for some great back-of-the-box screenshot fodder.

For retro gamers with a passing interest in the history of the Turrican series (is there even such a thing as a casual Turrican fan?), the Turrican Flashback collection represents a pretty good sampling for a much lower asking price. For everyone else, Turrican Anthology offers the definitive experience, with more historical offerings like manual scans, galleries, and soundtrack jukeboxes, as well as some modern niceties like updated controls and a map overlay that lets you fully explore every tiny corner of these retro worlds. The director's cuts and the inclusion of Turrican 3 are ultimately fairly minor additions, but the score attacks give expert players another avenue to test their mettle, and - despite its departure from the series’ roots - the inclusion of Super Turrican 2 offers a fully unique experience that’s exclusive to this anthology.

Turrican Anthology Vol. I & II were developed by Factor 5, a game and technology development studio founded in 1987 by former Rainbow Arts employees in Cologne, Germany. The studio opened an American branch in 1996 (closed in 2009) that partnered with LucasArts and Nintendo on technology development, which led to the studio developing the critically and commercially successful Rogue Squadron series. The highly-regarded Turrican series soundtracks were composed by Chris Huelsbeck.
Turrican and Turrican II: The Final Fight were originally developed by Manfred Trenz while working for Rainbow Arts. Manfred Trenz is a German developer whose first commercial release was The Great Giana Sisters, also released by Rainbow Arts, which was famously pulled from store shelves under the threat of legal action by Nintendo for its similarities to Super Mario Bros. Manfred Trenz also developed the R-Type-inspired Katakis on Commodore 64, which led to him working on the official Commodore 64 port of R-Type. When development of later Turrican entries moved to Factor 5, he continued developing games for Rainbow Arts, including Enforcer: Fullmetal Megablaster and Rendering Ranger: R2. He went on to found his own development studio in 2004 called Denaris Entertainment Software (Denaris is the name of the updated re-release of Katakis, which removed some of the similarities to R-Type), primarily porting games to other platforms. Rainbow Arts released games from 1986 to 1997, primarily for home computers, before being sold and incorporated into THQ in 1999.
Turrican Anthology Vol I & II were published by ININ Games, a publishing label of United Games GmbH that focuses on retro, indie, and arcade games, including Ultracore, CrossCode, The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors, Turrican Flashback, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined, and Jitsu Squad.