1995 saw the 16-bit generation go through a downward spiral as the promise of the new 32-bit platforms could not be ignored. 3-d graphics at home was a big draw along with all the new possibilities it could bring. This left the SNES and Genesis looking a bit long in the tooth as many gamers moved on. There were many brilliant games released at the tail end of their lifespans and Super Turrican 2 is one of them. Factor 5 pushed the SNES pretty hard to create this monster and their effort shows as it is a graphical force to be reckoned with. While it strays from what made Turrican as a whole unique the quality of its action makes up for it as it is one of the best pure action games for the system.
Super Turrican 2’s weapon selection is kept pretty light however that doesn’t affect the proceedings too much. The standard machine gun can be upgraded to a wider spread gun, the laser is more powerful and will slightly bend to follow a target, and there’s a flame thrower that I never found too interesting. There’s also a bouncing shot that moves like a slinky; it’s kind of weird as can also bounce in the air too. There are homing missiles, a shield, and smart bombs too but these are rarer. Two of the series staples, the freeze beam and the energy wheel, see little use however, to the point where I even forgot they were in the game. What does see heavy usage is the grappling beam lifted from Mega Turrican. The swing mechanics aren’t the most refined but you’ll have to get used to it as nearly every stage will force you to make extensive use of this feature.
The level design in the game is a huge departure from prior games in the series, focusing less on wide open expanses and more on action movie set pieces. Nearly every level is an event unto itself that keeps the game exciting at every turn. Jumping from worm to worm in the second level is a rush and is followed by a ride in the clouds on the undercarriage of a plane that is reminiscent of Contra III. There is one level that hearkens back to the series roots as you pilot a jet bike undersea in a nonlinear sequence to deactivate a series of shields.
The variety continues in the numerous vehicle levels that see you piloting a variety of craft through obstacle laden courses. There’s even a vertical shooting level that pays homage to Axelay with its viewpoint that is simply fantastic. True, the constant switching up of play styles can feel disjointed however they are all done extremely well at the very least and keep the game from falling into a rut.
Overall the game is pretty difficult due to myriad factors. I found the weapons aren’t as powerful as they should be leading to boss battles dragging on. Combined with a clock that seems to tick a bit too fast it’s not out of the realm of possibility to kill a boss without enough time to reach the exit. Not being able to shoot upwards or even diagonally is also extremely limiting and not in a good way. While the Mode 7 boss fights look impressive they are also extremely confusing to watch, let alone participate in. You’ll suffer a number of cheap deaths without knowing how or why. Lastly the limited continues mean starting over from the beginning is a bitter pill to swallow, especially as the game is pretty long.
While Super Turrican 2 has done an excellent job of bringing the action up to the level of other titles in the genre it has strayed from what made the series unique. All of the Turrican games have featured wide open levels for you to explore with plenty of secrets to make it worthwhile. There is only one set path through nearly all of the levels here, with the restrictive time limit doing its best to discourage any thoughts of wandering off that path. To those looking for a pure action title none of this will matter. But for long time fans of the series Super Turrican 2 will come across as a mild disappointment.
What no one will complain about are the game’s production values. Factor 5 bring their technical prowess to the game’s art direction and have produced one of the best looking SNES games. The art direction and vistas are simply incredible and make full use of the system’s wide color palette to paint its beautiful backdrops. The cutscenes made use of pre-rendered art that was fairly impressive for the time, especially considering some of it is animated. Mode 7 is prevalent throughout the game in its numerous vehicle sequences and boss battles. Though heavily pixelated these segments are still impressive in their ambition if a little bit dated. The music is similarly fantastic, making rare use of Dolby Surround Sound to pump out its amazing soundtrack. It’s not to the level of its predecessor but this is still a damn find OST.
As the last official game release in the series Super Turrican 2 had a lot to live up to. On the one hand it fails to continue the series trademark features but at the same time keeps just enough to remain enticing to its fans. Either way whether you are a long term Turrican fan or just like action games in general there is plenty to like here as it is still an excellent game.