Game Review #233: Turok (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Nightdive Studios
Publisher: Nightdive Studios
Category: Action, Platformer
Release Date: 3.18.2019
Price (at time of review): $19.99
Buy Turok from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
N64 Time Travels to 2019
With the lack of a virtual console, it’s only a matter of time before publishers start bringing classic titles over to the Switch, since it’s the hottest-selling console. The N64 has a plethora of titles that I could cherry pick all day finding ones I really loved, including the fact that this was when I first got into first-person shooters, with my all-time favorite FPS on N64, Goldeneye. But amongst the N64 FPS gems was a fun title that I held very dear, and that was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I was mainly sold from the jump, because I’m a comic enthusiast and had been following the Turok comic, published by Valiant Comics. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for N64 was developed by Iguana Entertainment and published by Acclaim back in 1997. The game did well enough, as it got a sequel in 1998 and a prequel in 2002. Night Dive Studios took the torch and released a remastered version in 2015, and now here it is on the Switch.
Triceratops, Sabretooth Tigers, & T-Rexes… OH MY!
Throughout your adventure you will play as Tal'Set (Turok), a Native American time-traveling warrior. The mantle of Turok is passed down every generation to the eldest male. Each Turok is charged with protecting the barrier between Earth and the Lost Land, a primitive world where time has no meaning. The Lost Land is inhabited by a variety of creatures, from dinosaurs to aliens. An evil overlord known as the Campaigner seeks an ancient artifact known as the Chronoscepter, a weapon so powerful that it was broken into pieces to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. The Campaigner plans on using a focusing array to magnify the Chronoscepter's power, destroying the barriers that separate the ages of time and allowing him to rule the universe. Turok vows to find the Chronoscepter's eight pieces and prevent the Campaigner's schemes.
Just so you know, this isn’t necessarily laid out how I’d have liked it, but nonetheless, this is the story; and moreover, they wanted an IP that had you fighting aliens and dinosaurs with high tech gear, so just have fun with it.
Grab Your Bow & Arrows To Hunt A Raptor
The game has eight levels and took me around eight hours to finish, though it could last longer depending on how much you decide to explore, as the levels are pretty big, and not always are they linear in direction. Now, saying that, the game is an FPS action adventure game that has heavy exploration and light platforming, with zero hand holding. The exploration is something I did more of in this new port than before, so make sure to look out for secrets like the blue swirls, which are mini portals that take you to places to find more goodies.
The gameplay holds up and everything is actually slightly better in every way. You start out with your trusty knife and very badass bow and arrow, but you will obtain an arsenal, weapon by weapon, from modern guns to futuristic tech weapons. I never ran out of ammo, but you will have to be smart about using all weapons, and when to use them, because the respawn issue, which I’ll touch on later, leaves you running low at some points. You can acquire different bolts and arrows for your bow, and you’ll find out that some are really fun to use, like the explosive bolts. The bow is a great weapon; you just have to really focus to hit the enemies spot on, but it makes you feel like Rambo when you do.
The thing I noticed the most was the control setup. The controls on the N64 were never ideal with the single joystick. This time around they took advantage of both joysticks, and added gyroscopic motion controls that make playing the game feel so perfect. This feels like an absolute must moving forward with FPSs, as it really helps make the whole experience that much deeper and more enjoyable.
The platforming wasn’t my favorite, but that hasn’t changed over the years, as I didn’t like it then either. This isn’t exactly Mirror’s Edge with its platforming. While moving around, it felt like the original Doom with its gunplay and movement. The movement is like silk. It’s so smooth you almost feel light as a feather, which can make platforming easier, but some will see the obvious change to how it is now, where a more modern shooter would have you feel the weight of your character and would add a lot of motion when they ran. I loved the old school throwback that Turok allows. As I said, it’s very reminiscent of Doom.
While running through the levels you’ll encounter aliens, and, of course, mean ole dinosaurs—some that have been tricked out with laser beams on their heads by Dr. Evil. You’ll have a hell of a lot of fun fighting baddies, and even more fun fighting the boss battles. There’s nothing like a giant T-Rex breaking through the fog and running straight at you. Yes, as I mentioned, the hellacious fog is back, but not as bad as I remember it being. The one thing that annoyed me, and I mentioned this before, is how I’d clear an entire section out and I’d move back through that area, and they’d be back in full force, completely ready to kill me again; and they also have perfectly-placed aim, and always knew where I was, no matter how stealthy I was.
This version has a lot—and I mean a lot—of options in the menu, where you can tweak and play with things. This game even has the option to break out the old cheat codes and have a grand old time going berserk. There’s nothing quite like a piece of paper with cheat codes scribbled on it so I can load up and blow away some prehistoric baddies. This port of the game isn’t perfect, but it is true to the original, and when you fire it up and start playing, you’ll find out exactly why it’s an adored little gem—and I’m glad it came back!
Audio & Visuals
The visuals are how I remember them, for the most part. Things look to have been cleaned up a bit, as the fog that plagued the first one seems slightly better and the images seem crisper. The 64-bit polygon look is still here and intact, and ran flawlessly on my playthrough, clicking what felt like 60 FPS—though some characters dipped.
The sounds are there in their own nostalgic greatness, with the dinosaurs’ weapons sounding off perfectly. The music is one of my favorite parts, with the jungle music and drums pounding away. This version has both the original soundtrack and the remastered version from 2002, but I prefer the original, even if it isn’t anything groundbreaking.
It’s A Wrap!!!
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter hasn’t aged particularly well, especially by today’s standards, but for this being one of the first console FPS action games I played, it definitely holds a special place in my nostalgic heart. Which leads me to value. I would say, to me, the sweet spot would’ve been $15, but I don’t think many fans of the original will care. All they’ll want to know is it is a good port. I can report back and say that it is a good port. It doesn’t do a lot in the way of improving—though it does do some—but most hardcore fans want to keep that classic look and feel, and it’s all here. I hope this is only the first of many ports coming from the N64.
Buy Turok from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Nightdive Studios