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%% Usenet Review:  Turrican 3                           By Mark B. Sachs %%
%%                                           (sachs@crayola.cse.psu.edu) %%
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PRODUCT NAME

        Turrican 3


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        It's a platform shoot-em-up game.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Name:           Factor 5/Rainbow Arts


LIST PRICE

        $49.99 (US).  Local dealer price $35.95.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

                According to the manual, Turrican III will take advantage of
                extra RAM to reduce loading times, and will take advantage
                of a faster CPU to manipulate on-screen objects more
                efficiently. Indeed, loading times were very quick and BOB
                movement very smooth on my A3000. Also, there were no hassles
                because I happened to be running in NTSC mode.

        SOFTWARE

                None mentioned.


COPY PROTECTION

        Disk protection.  Not hard drive installable.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

        Amiga 3000, NTSC, 2M Chip RAM, 4M Fast RAM.


REVIEW

        It's been a while since the original Turrican and Turrican II
blasted their way into the Amiga game scene.  The first Turrican featured
mind-bendingly impressive (and colorful) graphics, bloody enormous levels,
kicky music and enough firepower to make even the National Rifle Association
happy.  Not long after that came Turrican II, with graphics that blew
Turrican I out of the water, wonderful 7-voice music, and enough firepower
to make even the NRA feel slightly ill.  Both are classics, indeed,
archetypes of the platform shooter genre.

        What could top that?  Not willing to leave well enough alone, Factor
5 has returned with the third part of the trilogy, imaginatively named
Turrican III.  The scenario is familiar.  Long ago humanity's arch-nemesis,
The Machine, was apparently destroyed; the galaxy enjoyed a period of
existence that was happy, peaceful, and on the whole tax free.  But of course
this couldn't last -- the Machine returned and went back to its old tricks
of blowing up planets and enslaving innocents.  Who's going to drop down to
the Machine's planet and blast his way through uncounted numbers of evil
minions to put an end to this unpleasantness, and not incidentally rescue
the cute manga babe whose cry for help alerted everyone to the menace?  Looks
like a job for Bren McGuire, who, with a heavily armed Turrican powersuit,
purple hair, and chin the size of Texas, is definitely qualified to take it
on.  All this is explained in the game's intro -- very stylishly done, with
scrolling backgrounds, text, and ominous music that matches the narrative
very well.

        Turrican III, like its two predecessors, is a platform shoot-em-up
with bosses, powerups, hidden areas, the whole deal.  As you may have
guessed, the concept is not exactly intellectual; no strategy or planning
involved, just straight death and destruction.  But that's OK.  It's worked
before and worked well.

        Anyway, after seeing the intro, I was very impressed, and eager to
see the game itself.  All that was left to do was to select Control Method
(the game supports two-button joysticks and Sega MegaDrive joypads -- a
definite plus), pick a difficulty level (from "Easy" to "Maniac") and off we
go!

        This, unfortunately, is where I stopped being quite so impressed.

        Turrican III isn't BAD, really.  But, sadly, it does not live up to
its predecessors.  Admittedly Turrican II -- with its colorful copper
backdrops, multilevel parallax scrolling, massive armaments, and so forth --
is a hard act to follow, but the third installment isn't even at the level
of Turrican I, much less II.

        First disappointment: the flamethrower, the most useful weapon from
TI and II (you can play it in any direction around you to take care of
baddies above or below the level of your gun) is gone!  It's been replaced by
a Bionic Commando-style rope with which you can, er, swing up to high
places. The rope is kind of neat, but I'd rather have the flamethrower to be
honest.

        Second disappointment: the graphics feel, well, SMALL.  Small and
junky.  Console-like.  Which shouldn't be a surprise, as this is really a
conversion of "Super Turrican" for the Super NES console.  But the stylish
touches that made the previous two installments so perfect are entirely
absent.  The palettes are drab, rather than colorful (there is obvious
dithering everywhere), the parallax scrolling looks unrealistic, and worst
of all your weaponry is NOT impressive.  As for the in-game music, it's OK,
but it doesn't provide the wonderful atmosphere we saw in the previous two.

        Third disappointment:  there's a fine line between "playable" and
"too damn easy."  TI and II were playable.  TIII is too damn easy.  It took
merely an hour to complete the game on Normal difficulty level; very few
places were actually difficult to get through.  The majority of the levels
are highly linear and compressed, almost pushing you straight to the exit.
Even the (few) non-linear levels are crowded with "EXIT" arrows everywhere,
making finding your way through no challenge at all.

        "Mark," I can hear you saying, "there must be SOME good points."
Well, OK, there are a few.  The intro's pretty nice, as I said.  The game
speed cannot be faulted -- no slowdowns anywhere.  There are a fair number
of bosses, which I personally happen to like.  A few of the levels ARE quite
stylish, such as a giant factory towards the end, swimming and underwater
sections, and an H. R. Giger-esque freight train (I kid you not) that was a
nervewracking experience to get across.  But even these levels were far too
short and featured few nifty or unusual touches.  Um... did I mention that
the intro was quite nice?

        That's about all I can say.  Turrican fans will be disappointed, I
guarantee; the latest installment in the venerable trilogy doesn't follow
the time-honored formula, smells too much of the console conversion that it
is, and, well, as much as I wanted to before actually playing it, I can't
recommend that you buy Turrican III.


CONCLUSIONS

        I wanted to like this game.  I really did.  But I didn't.  Buy "Hired
Guns" instead.