Turrican II: The Final Fight is the outstanding sequel to the excellent Turrican – a classic run-and-gun platform shooter created by German coder Manfred Trenz. It was originally published by Rainbow Arts for the Commodore 64 in 1991.
For this second Turrican game Trenz shared the game design credit with Andreas Escher, and since they split coding and graphic design responsibilities that seems fair.
The game plays similarly to the previous Turrican, with the aim being: to traverse a scrolling landscape, to reach the exit on each level. Again: rather than just pegging your way through it, the game encourages you to explore and find secrets, usually with lots of extra lives hidden away to find and collect.
The Turrican can pick up power-ups that change his weapons (between three different shot types: bounce, laser and multiple) and also has a more powerful ‘constant’ rotating beam weapon that is activated by holding down fire. Actually, this time the rotating secondary weapon is less of a beam and more like a stream of bullets. It works the same as before, though.
This time there are more tricks and traps to catch you out, like collapsing platforms, and plants that grow vertically to prevent you jumping past without blasting them. The levels also seem bigger and more complex than previously, with lots of hidden areas to discover, within the strict time limit of course.
In a nod to Nintendo‘s Metroid, the Turrican can also enter ‘wheel mode’ (by pushing down and pressing the space bar), which turns him into a ball that can roll around, squeeze through small gaps, destroy smaller enemies, and drop bombs on the ground. Very much like the morph ball in the Metroid games. The wheel mode also has an ‘ultra fire’ mode that can be used once per life. You activate it by pressing fire and the space bar at the same time.
Graphically, Turrican II is similar to the first game, but with much more variety. The scrolling landscapes are beautifully-drawn, using limited colours, and are relatively simple-looking but detailed and atmospheric. Enemies are distinctive and well-animated and are mostly small, swarmy and annoying. The larger enemy sprites – the bosses and mid-bosses – are particularly good in this game, though.
One interesting new addition to Turrican II are side-scrolling shoot ’em up sections, which start at level 3-1. The Turrican gets into a spaceship at the end of 2-2 and must blast his way through three horizontally-scrolling levels to reach the next run-and-gun segment. The scrolling backgrounds are a little ‘busy’ in these levels (compared to previous levels), which makes discerning your ship a little difficult. That said: these shooter sections are a welcome diversion from the running and gunning. Be warned, though: they are extremely tough these levels, with some very small gaps to squeeze your ship through, some horribly difficult zig-zags at speed, and boss battles at the end of each stage. Having a scrolling shooter section is a nice touch, though, shoehorned into an already great game.
In fact: there are lots of nice touches throughout Turrican II, like the bridges sagging when you walk on them; wind effects with blowing leaves that propel you in certain directions; enemies getting squashed (and still walking) when you jump on them; underwater levels; and various insane boss battles. The large boss at the end of stage 2-2 is both a marvellous technical achievement and quite a challenge. He can even grab you and pull you off-screen, which is a bit of a shock when it happens the first time.
Turrican II features sound effects during the game, and music only outside of it – except during the shoot ’em up sections, which do have background music. The music was composed by Marcus Siebold.
Overall: Turrican II: The Final Fight is a serious upgrade over the first Turrican and is arguably one of the best games ever made for the C64. It’s definitely worth playing if you like run-and-gun games, although you may need emulator quicksaves and/or cheats to reach the later levels, because it’s a pretty long and difficult game.