Review by KFHEWUI
"A solid platformer that is held back by some questionable level design"
There is a place called The Lost Land, and it is a place where dinosaurs still roam around. The Campaigner is trying to recover a weapon called the Chronoscepter, and this ancient alien weapon is of immense power that would help the Campaigner easily conquer The Lost Land. There is a bloodline called Turok which is of Native American descent yet their sole duty is to restore balance. Tal'Set current heir of Turok lineage must set out to stop the Campaigner while also trying to stop his army from recovering the pieces of the Chronoscepter.
While the concept behind the story is good, there is no story development at all in the game, but what little story there is, is all told through the instruction booklet. The game does in a way kind of tell a story through the places that the player will visit and does give some sense of progression.
Unlike the console version, this version is a platformer yet unlike the sequels, Turok: Battle of the Bionosaurs actually stays very close to the N64 version including the locales, weapons, and some of the bosses.
Despite the change in the nature of the game, from first person shooter to 2D platformer, exploration is still a vital part to success, and the game takes place over eight levels. The goal for most of the levels is to collect keys to open up the portal to the next level while also finding a piece of the Chronoscepter. Turok's gameplay does add a few new elements to the platformer genre. When jumping to a ledge, Turok will grab the ledge then the player must pull themselves up, but when having to drop down from a ledge, the player must position themselves near the edge with their back to the ledge and hit down to climb down. Doing so is a must because Turok will die if the drop is too high. It is a unique element for its time, and it reminds me of Tomb Raider.
The rest of the gameplay is standard platformer affair with exploration, plenty of platform jumping, item collections, and enemies to fight. Speaking of enemies, there is a unique variety of enemies to fight including, humans, raptors, bugs, Venus flytraps, and robots. If there is one issue with the enemies, it is the placement of enemies, and some enemies will either shoot at the player or bum rush them if they get too close. Unfortunately, sometimes the enemies that shoot are place close to a ledge that the player must climb up so that means the only way to progress is to take damage which feels cheap. It also does not help that the hit detection can be questionable at times including hits that will hurt the player even if they do not make contact with Turok. The problem with the bum rushing enemies is that sometimes the platform the player must jump to is too small so the enemy can get in a cheap hit before they can be killed. Worst part is when having to go into houses, and if there is an enemy the player will take damage. Why? The reason is when going into a house there is a bright flash, and it takes a few seconds for it to clear up. So this means the only option is to hit shoot after going into the house, but if there is no enemy, it is a waste of ammo.
There is a large variety of weapons in the game including knife, bow and arrow, pistol, shotgun, mini-gun, machine gun, Chronoscepter, and alien weapons. Some of the stronger weapons have a fatal flaw which is that they must be charged before firing. This means the player has to stand still and hold down "B" until the weapon icon flashes in the lower right corner which leaves the player open to attacks from enemies when charging the weapon. Some of the stronger weapons though are better used for breaking rocks or other barriers which usually house goodies or a piece of the Chronoscepter.
Turok does not look that bad for a Game Boy title and the character and enemy sprites are nicely drawn for the most part although some of the enemies are impossible to determine what they are. Scenery looks great with the platforms that look like they are composed of rock and some have grass on them, but the backgrounds are a mix bag while some look great like the Catacombs and treetops levels others can be quite plain including a white background with grass and a tree every once in a while. One touch I liked is how the final level progressed which starts off in a forest then it turns into a machine factory.
Players start off with ten lives and health, but the amount of health is determined by the difficult. For easy it is nine health, normal has seven, and hard has five, and the max amount of health the player can have at once is nine. Extra lives can be obtained by collection life force (triangles) yet there are two types of life force: yellow and red. Red life force will grant the player ten while the yellow give only five, but one hundred life forces are needed for a single life. In each level there are three keys (look like a gear in a box) that must be collected to open up the next level yet the eighth, and final, level has no keys at all. It is a straight forward level where the only objective is to find and stop the Campaigner.
Level design is one of the areas where the game has some major issues and like every platformer from the time, the game includes plenty of leaps of faith to find the next platform. This would be okay if it were not for the checkpoint system (triangle with a hollow center) which there is only one in each level, except for the first level, meaning if the leap of faith is wrong, the player will have to do a lot of backtracking to reach the same position. This is not fun at all even worse is when the player misses a ledge by a hair and falls to their death. This unfortunately means that sometimes the game will come to a dead stop while the player grinds for lives. Sadly this could have been remedied by one of two options which are either have more checkpoints or have a way to look around for platforms like say for example while the game is paused, the camera could have been panned around.
Controlling Turok is very easy and for the most part. The control scheme is solid and easy to grasp with movement on D-Pad and having shoot and jump mapped to "B" and "A" respectively. But this does not mean that the controls are flawless because they are not. Changing weapons is awkward and can be quite troublesome in the heat of combat, and this is performed by holding down "Select" and press either "left" or "right" on the D-Pad.
Music for the game sounds great, and I like the piano tune that plays at the main menu which sounds has a Native American vibe to it. Each level has its own unique track with each track fitting the mood of the level. While the music is great, the sound effects are minimal including weapons fire.
Length of the game is ultimately depended upon the player, and I was able to beat the game in around eight hours however two key moments will determine how long it take for most players. The first is how many times that have to grind for lives with the second being how long it takes them to find the hidden cave on level six, and sadly I had to resort to a walkthrough on youtube just to find it because it is placed at a random position. The game does have a password system that allows the player to pick up and go, and each password is composed of ten characters and uses letter however there are no vowels.
Replay value for the game is slim, and there are three difficulties however nothing else to do after beating the game. While it is a solid game, not many will have the desire to replay the game more than once.
Turok: Battle of the Bionosaurs is a solid platformer that is at least worth a playthrough however there is not enough meat on the bone to make most people play more than once thanks to questionable enemy placement and sometimes annoying level design.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/06/12
Game Release: Turok: Battle of the Bionosaurs (US, 12/01/97)
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