I have very fond memories of playing both Turrican and Turrican II on a friend’s Atari ST, way back in the early 90s. A few things that really stuck in my mind were just how much onscreen pyrotechnics and general carnage there was, along with the absolutely kick ass soundtrack.

I’m pleased to report that the visual effects, mayhem and of course, that soundtrack, still hold up today when it comes to pretty much any of the Turrican games. What strikes me with each entry included in this first anthology of Turrican titles is how much the devs, Factor 5, seem to want players to just feel like the ultimate futuristic badass right from the start. There’s no staggered, piecemeal doling out of power ups – generally, in a Turrican game, they just hand you the keys to the armoury and say, “here you go – now go have fun!”.

Included in Turrican Anthology Vol. I are Amiga versions of Turrican and Turrican II, the SNES title Super Turrican and it’s improved, expanded Super Turrican Director’s Cut version. There’s also the Mega Turrican Score Attack, which is a single level in which players must collect as many items as possible before exiting the stage – chasing the glory of a high score as the name implies.

Both Turrican and Turrican II are absolutely stunning games, with the aforementioned focus on just powering players up to ridiculous levels before letting them loose on huge, non-linear stages stuffed with inventive, varied bad guys and beautiful pixel art visuals. Those visuals include a neat, memorable touch whereby the colour of the sky can be used to determine your vertical position in any given level.

It’s all really compelling and addictive stuff, and though many elements are lifted from elsewhere – such as the ability to morph into a ball a la Samus from Metroid – the fact that it plagiarises so many of the best features from other run and gun games just makes it feel like an exhilarating ‘best of’.

All of that applies to the first two games, still arguably the strongest titles in the Turrican series. Super Turrican is a great game – with some beautiful visual effects thanks to the console’s transparency modes and other SNES-specific graphical tricks – but certainly feels a bit more linear than the previous two titles and is also very short indeed.

Though the Director’s Cut does add in some much needed content, it feels a little unpolished – and that’s because it’s actually a previously unreleased build of the SNES game, prior to the cuts that were forced upon Factor 5 by a publisher looking to reduce costs via the game’s cartridge size.

Each game has save states, rewind and there’s even new map features, which are absolutely invaluable – particularly when it comes to the sometimes sprawling levels in both Turrican and Turrican II.

Despite the slightly weaker Super Turrican and its Director’s Cut, there’s still value to be had in playing both games. Mega Turrican Score Attack is a surprisingly addictive diversion too. The real main attractions – which are, in my opinion, unmissable – are Turrican and Turrican II, however. With the numerous quality of life improvements – in addition to the save states, rewind and maps, other features are also included, such as new control options (to take advantage of more modern controllers) – all of the included titles are pretty much as good, if not better than they’ve ever been.

Scans of manuals, digital jukeboxes and other features round out the excellent collection, making this nigh on impossible to pass up for Turrican fans and even a fascinating historical collection for more general retro gamers. It’s a truly excellent anthology – one which I can highly recommend.

Turrican Anthology Vol I is out now on PS4/5 and Switch. Many thanks to PR Hound for providing me with a code for review purposes.

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