Turok: Dinosaur Hunter has returned! I know a lot of people claim Mario and Link are the Nintendo mascots, but back on the N64 I would personally have placed Turok himself within the list of the infamous faces you can relate to a product. Four main games and a spin-off were released on Nintendo consoles, Turok, Turok 2, Turok 3, Turok: Evolution, and Turok: Rage Wars (which was my favourite) before it was pretty much rebooted into the 2008 edition on the Xbox 360 and PS3. However, the original Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is an iconic game which almost every N64 owner I knew owned a copy of.
So, after 22 years, the first game in the franchise has come home and landed back on a Nintendo console in the form of a rather unusual remaster. Does the game still stand up today, after all of the advancements we’ve received over the years in terms of First Person Shooters? I’ve played around 10 hours of the game so far so I think it’s time to take a look as I grab my bow, stand proudly, and shout out loud “I am Turok!”
If you’ve never heard of Turok before, grab onto your butts as it’s got one hell of a concept behind it. You are Turok, a Native American who can travel through time who is armed, initially, with only his trusty knife and bow. Turok is merely a title which is given to the eldest male within a tribe as generations pass, you are basically a protector of The Lost Land, a place where time has no meaning. It’s in here where you’ll find creatures ranging from dinosaurs to otherworldly beings.
However, The Lost Land also contains fragments of the Chronscepter, a weapon which was broken into fragments to prevent the wrong hands from getting hold of it. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop The Campaigner, an evil overlord who has ventured into The Lost Land in the hope of obtaining all the pieces and using the weapon for his own evil schemes. So, not only will Turok have to deal with this evil being, but he’ll also have to deal with all of the hostile creatures who lie within this sacred realm as well as the hordes of soldiers The Campaigner is teleporting in and even cybernetically enhanced dinosaurs which are under his control.
Time Travel, Dinosaurs, Aliens, Cybernetic Dinosaurs, Evil Soldiers, Bad-Ass Weaponry, Fast-Paced Action… what more could you want! Oh yeah, Big Head mode!
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the game itself, let’s take a look at the remaster. Those who played the original game on the N64 will instantly recognise the charm and simplicity of the images I’ve put within this review. For everyone else, the game looks like an N64 game… So, why is this called a ‘remaster’ and not a port – simple, there’s a lot more going on under the hood (plus it looks a lot different to the original N64 version if you do a direct comparison).
First up, yeah – the graphics are very dated and blocky, but that’s the point. The developers have tried to keep the game as authentic as they can without changing too much. What we do get is…
• Higher resolutions, and widescreen. (plus FOV options)
• Improved gameplay and level design. (some levels have been ‘modified’ to make them more accessible)
• Dynamic lighting, bloom, FXAA, enhanced water effects, lights shafts and more.
• Ability to freely rebind all controls as well as gyroscope support.
Partial thanks to Eurogamer
Unless you’ve played the original Turok game recently, you won’t spot the changes within the level design as everything feels much better now and more fun. The various visual effects are great, with the biggest enhancement for me being the increased view distance as the ‘fog of war’ has been eliminated within this version. The controls are also rather unique and special, so let’s talk about those…
Turok first loads up with a perfectly defined control scheme. All the button choices seem perfectly mapped to my hand and it feels so much better than playing it with an N64 controller! You have ZL for Jump, ZR is fire, L and R change weapons, and the two control sticks look/move. You can also map multiple buttons to each of the commands, so if you want jump to be either A, B, X, Y, or ZL, then you can map all those buttons to the one command! However, the best mechanic is by far the gyroscope.
When the Joycons are attached to the screen, you can aim as usual, with your control sticks, but also tilt the controller in order to help you get quick, accurate shots in against the onslaught. This works well but you’ll have to turn up the sensitivity to get the most out of it. However, once you go into the table-top or docked mode, the motion control aiming instantly becomes an essential part of the game which you’ll start using immediately. I found that having the joycons separated allows you to have even more control over your aiming, as both joycons use their individual gyroscopes, but it also worked great in the Joycon holder.
Seriously, I’ve not felt like I had this much control over my aiming within a console game (outside of VR) since I played the Call of Duty games on the Wii and Wii U with the Wiimotes. Although, one thing to note here is that because this is a very old game (at heart), you don’t have to be 100% accurate with your aiming. If you’re not a fan of the motion controls you can turn them off as well, but I recommend you leave them on and at least give them a try!
Turok is a rather simple game when you step back and take a look at it. It’s very reminiscent of games like Doom, Quake, Rise of the Triad, and Unreal. There’s a hub area where you can pick between eight levels, each one closed off behind a magical lock. In order to unlock the other levels, you need to jump into one of the open worlds and seek out the hidden keys whilst fending off spawning enemies, bosses, dinosaurs, and the worst enemy of all – platform jumping. Once you’ve collected enough keys for a certain level, you can unlock a new portal in the hub and then choose which you wish to take on next. For example, I unlocked both level two and three at the same time, so I completed the third area before the second one, as it was easier!
Each level is very confusing at times as there are no guides on where to go or what you’re trying to do – it’s all about referring to your map and working out where the game wants you to go. You’ll find new weapons, encounter unusual creatures, and even a rather difficult boss at the end of each area. For example, one of the levels had me destroy a few Jeeps that were trying to knock me over before I could take out the G.I. Joe-type guy who was trying to shoot me to death! The game is bat-shit crazy!
As I mentioned above, the number one enemy within the game, behind the cybernetic T-Rex, is the platforming. It’s an insta-death moment when you slightly under-jump and fall to your death into a bottomless pit. Thankfully, most of these areas have a save point just before them (as you can only save at those), but not all of them do. I found that dropping the FOV to 70 gave me a more accurate view of where I was jumping to, over the high 90 FOV, but I still died a countless number of times due to you having to be pixel-perfect at times.
However, thanks to the frustrating nature of the platforming, you get a big feeling of satisfaction once you manage to pull off one of the harder jumping segments. Every cloud, right?!
What else is new?
For a game that looks like an old N64 title, the developers have done an amazing job at bringing a load of modern features into the game. As well as what I’ve mentioned above, you can also adjust a multitude of options such as blood colour, bloom, water reflections, what FOV you want (47.5, 74, 90), if you want the PC soundtrack or the original N64 version, and cheats. Yup, all of the original cheat codes (from what I can tell) work with this version as well. There’s a list of 26 cheats just waiting to be messed around with, cheats which range from All Weapons to Big Head mode – all free (if you know the codes) without any form of microtransactions or payments!
Another thing the developers have added to the game is achievements. These are disabled if you use the cheats, but who cares on the Nintendo Switch, right?! But, it is something for people to work towards on a system which doesn’t actually support any kind of trophy support at all (one of the things I don’t like about the Switch). There’s not many, just ten of them, but it’s something to work towards completing if you’re a completionist.
If you want the authentic experience, you should disable the long draw distances, turn off bloom, turn off water reflections, and bump up the difficulty. The visual changes also help with the performance…
Okay, there aren’t many issues – especially in handheld mode, which is where I played the game the most. However, when I put it in docked mode I did notice some dips in the framerate when the screen became engulfed in explosions or enemies. It’s not very obvious but you can feel it when the game begins to slow down a little like it would on the N64.
I absolutely loved playing through Turok again. It was one of the first games I got for my N64 when I was younger and I bought every single game which followed it on launch day without fail thanks to my love of the franchise. Has the remaster turned an old classic into a modern masterpiece? Not quite. The visual throwback with the blocky graphics and, most likely, original engine animations and wireframes, will certainly please people like me, fans of the original games who just want to slaughter some dinosaurs with a multitude of crazy weapons. However, new gamers who have never experienced the game before may get put off by the visuals, unfortunately.
Although, those who do bite the bullet and takes a chance with the game will instantly find out how much fun the game is and how it still kinda stands up against games of today. Sure, it’s not as in-depth as your Call of Duty or Battlefield narratives, but it pure arena-like action where enemies will continuously spawn in if you take too long, no hand-holding showing you where to go, brutal enemies who will slaughter you, pixel-perfect jumping, and pretty much perfect controls for Nintendo’s little console.
I also love the fact you can swap the music from the N64 version to the PC version (as it came out on both originally, although it came to the N64 first). Naturally, I’ve been playing it with the N64 soundtrack but the PC one does technically sound much better.
Official Trailer (PC but same game):
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is back where it belongs, on a Nintendo Console, after a seventeen-year hiatus! Although it’s only a remaster, and not a new game, it’s still very welcomed and something we should celebrate. Sticking to the original aesthetic and design, the developers have kept the overall look of Turok whilst implemented updated control methods, lighting, textures, visual effects, and audio in order to please those who grew up with the game. Turok is a game in which you shouldn’t judge it by its looks alone, the action-packed nature of the gameplay truly makes this a game you shouldn’t pass on if you own a Nintendo Switch.
I hope that we’ll see Turok 2: Seeds of Evil one day, and maybe even Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion or Turok: Rage Wars (as I loved the multiplayer with bots). However, if you enjoy classic games like Doom or Quake and you’ve yet to play Turok, pick it up today on Switch, Xbox One or PC. If you’ve played Turok before, you already know if you’re going to buy this or not!
- - It's Turok on the go!
- - Very faithful to the original game yet also adapted for modern gamers
- - Choice of many visual and audio options to customise your gameplay
- - Cheat codes work! I love the Big Head mode
- - The motion controls work perfectly
- - There are some framerate issues (or it feels like it) when in docked with all settings enabled [like Bloom and Water Reflections]
- - I love the faithfulness but I did get lost in a few levels as there was no hint on what to do