Following up one of the best shoot 'em ups ever to grace the Amiga sounds like a near impossible task, so the team behind the long awaited sequel to Turrican have played it safe and kept the basic gameplay traits whilst tweaking it and smoothing off a few rough edges. Turrican II picks up several years after the original game, with our hero's home once again under threat from an evil force. Initially, it is believed that Morgul, the dream demon from the first battle, has returned, but it transpires that a giant battle computer has somehow short-circuited and intends to dominate the universe by overrunning it planet by planet. To achieve its evil plan, it has built up a huge force of alien slaves, and this battle force and its massive armies of mutated creatures are currently swarming across the five planets in your system, and are threatening to eradicate the peaceful inhabitants of each. Ever predictably, and after the success of your last mission, you have been deemed the last hope for the system and its people, and armed with an assortment of both old and new weapons, you must battle your way through each of the five planets until you reach the manic computer for a final confrontation.
As soon as Turrican is ready to begin his journey, the new improvements become immediately apparent. The most striking addition is the shaded skyline which changes from level to level, but the enemy sprites are also more varied and have more intelligence than those of the first game. Our hero begins the game equipped with his trusty armored suit, a single-fire laser, and a collection of smart bombs that clear the screen whenever the spacebar is pressed. In addition, whenever the fire-button is depressed and the joystick pulled down, Turrican can leave mines that will blow up any unfortunate creature that bumps into them or, alternatively, transform into a gyroscope to eave trouble. Finally, holding down the fire-button ignites his maneuverable flamethrower which has been revamped and is twice as powerful as the electro-gun he sported in the first game.
Weapons in order, Turrican can then start to pick off the many enemy sprites that litter the route. Once again, the game follows the traditional format of an eight-way scrolling level which is punctuated with all manner of traps and platforms, and if our hero comes into contact with the enemy of their flak, his suit's protective power is reduced until he finally explodes in a shower of sparks. This can be averted, though, by the collection of the many power-ups that appear whenever the eye-shaped aliens are killed or if he stumbles across a bonus-giving hidden block. Collecting the power-ups is the only way you will ever get to confront the manic micro, but, thankfully, there is an ever wider range to collect now, including large balls of electricity and a massive bolt of power which clears all in its way. In addition, all the old favorites, including the extended flame-thrower and extra lives, are back, although the last item you collected will be lost whenever you come to a sticky end.
However, whilst retaining a lot from the original, Turrican II does not fall into the trap of repeating too much. The enhancements to the graphics, whilst playing second fiddle to the gameplay improvements, are excellent, and range from small touches like the rope bridges bending under each step to the dark and atmospheric backdrops of the later stages. Keeping in with the graphics' high standard, the sound is as loud and raucous as a shoot 'em up fan could wish for. A few speech samples have been thrown in, and every time Turrican collects an extra weapon he shouts out what it is. In addition, the game is supported by a rollicking good tune which suits the hectic action perfectly and is backed up by all manner of suitably explosive sound effects. It is the gameplay, though, that is the icing on Turrican II's cake. All the addictive shoot 'em up action that made the first game so enjoyable has been retained, yet somehow this new version seems fresh and different. The re-jigged weapons and smarter aliens make for a real challenge, and although the power-ups are spread quite generously through the game, its difficulty level is pitched to make the game challenging without being frustrating or too easy. In all, Turrican II is another fine product from Rainbow Arts and a perfect follow-up to the superb original. It surpasses everything they went out to achieve and is a game that any self-respecting shoot 'em up fan should own.
Anyone who was a fan of Turrican will be more than pleased with the enhancements made in the sequel. The most notable are the superb traps and obstacle-related hazards which await our hero. For instance, there are waterfalls which will sweep you towards your doom unless countered and collapsing platforms which kill you instantly as they give way beneath you. Likewise, the programmers have obviously spent a lot of time on the enemy attack patterns, and ideas have been cribbed from shoot 'em ups such as R-Type. The aliens appear in groups of five or six and, for the most part, can be dispensed with a couple of shots. On later levels, though, they leave intricate, impassable webs behind them which must be shot before you continue, whilst others split up into dozens of smaller creatures when hit, sapping even more energy as they roll past. Also, the master computer has also lined the route with a number of automatic weapons, and these are located at regular intervals and fire missiles and the like as you approach. All these pave the way to the huge end-of-level guardians that Turrican was famed for, only this time they are bigger and meaner than ever and require more skill and maneuvering to destroy.
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