Nintendad

[Review] Turok 2: Seeds of Evil – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Nightdive Studios
  • Publisher: Nightdive Studios
  • Release date: 9/8/2019
  • Price: £15.79 / $19.99
  • Review code provided by: Nightdive Studios

For Nintendo fans of a certain age (myself included) the N64 era will forever be seen as the golden age of gaming. The console doesn’t emulate well and its representation on Virtual Console has been fairly limited when compared to the NES and SNES. With Nintendo looking less and less likely to release an N64 mini, there aren’t a great deal of options for N64 fans to experience their old favourites. This is where Nightdive Studios steps in to scratch that 90s itch.

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is the second of Nightdive’s remasters from the series, with the original Turok releasing earlier this year on Switch. The ports were released a while ago on PC and on Xbox One, before making the long awaited jump to the Switch. It feels right finally getting to play Turok 2 on a Nintendo console again. 

With the current trend for remasters, remakes and re-releases, nothing really matters if the shiny new version doesn’t do the original justice. Read on to find out if Turok 2 on Switch deserves Raptor-ous applause, or if it’s just a Cerebral Bore (sorry!).

I am Turok

Turok began as an American comic book series in the 1950s. The overall premise follows Turok as he travels through a land inhabited by both humans and dinosaurs. The original game launched on the N64 in 1997 and was titled Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. The first game saw Turok, a Native American named Tal’Set, taking on the terribly named “Campaigner” and his forces as well as a horde of dinosaurs. At the end of the game Turok throws the ultimate weapon, the Chronoscepter, into a volcano to destroy it. The resulting explosion went on to awaken a newer, deadlier foe known as the Primagen – setting up the events of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil.

The game itself plays over the course of six sprawling levels, each of them taking a few hours to battle through. The level layouts are very much your 90s corridor shooter, with the odd bigger open area thrown in. Exploration plays a big part in progressing through the levels, with the ultimate aim being to collect a number of keys to open the next level.

Another huge N64 shooter, Goldeneye, clearly had an impact on the original development team (Iguana). In a departure from the first Turok, there are a number of objectives necessary to complete in each level before you can consider it complete. These initially include rescuing children trapped in cages by the Primagen (how very current) and lighting distress beacons, before getting more exotic as you get closer and closer to the Primagen. 

The original game was much more of a straightforward shooter, whereas this objective based gameplay forces you to explore every nook and cranny. This, unfortunately, forces you to play the game in a way that really shows its shortcomings in terms of level design.

The Lost Land

The levels are very circuitous, with a number of checkpoints which you can teleport between. I often found that I would reach the portal which signified the end of a level despite having only completed some of the objectives. Passing through the portal teleports you back to the start of the level with all your progress still saved, but no real idea of where to go to complete the remaining objectives. 

Each level can take a fair bit of time to get from one end to the other, so it can mean a lot of backtracking to try and find what you have missed. The checkpoints don’t really help much as you generally have no idea where the remaining objectives are and therefore nothing to guide you towards a specific checkpoint. This is very much a byproduct of the fact the game is over 20 years old, but it can lead to some extremely frustrating moments if you don’t hit all the objectives on the first run through a level.

Nightdive have conveniently added the option to highlight key elements of the map, such as door switches, keys and feathers which essentially unlock context sensitive superpowers for Turok, such as the ability to jump across huge distances. This new feature will highlight certain objects with a yellow exclamation mark, making it much less likely you will get stuck as you miss a door switch in a dark corner of a room, or a key hidden in an obscure corner of the map.

This version of the game also includes some minor changes to some elements of the level layout, which apparently change some level geometry subtly to improve how they play. If I’m being honest, I didn’t notice the difference.

A bit of the old ultraviolence

I remember being blown away by the violence in the first Turok game, but Turok 2 took it to a new level. Enemies react differently depending on where they are hit, which is very much a feature of modern shooters, but this was very impressive at the time. The N64 era staple of lengthy preset animations for different deaths is a refreshing change from the physics based nonsense of some modern shooters. Depending on how you hit an enemy you can end up with a satisfying (but extremely grisly) animation at the enemy stumbles around clutching at a missing limb or gaping hole in their torso. Think of the deformation of a Gears of War game with the addition of pre-canned animations.

Combat is extremely satisfying, with Nightdive having tweaked the controls to suit modern dual analogue controllers. The original N64 controller had only one analogue stick, which was mapped to control your aim as a default. This feels quite off if you play the original games again, as this means that aiming is controlled with your left thumb. The game has been updated to play more like a modern day shooter, and it really benefits from this.

Guns don’t kill people, Video games do

The gunplay in the game is great fun, with a huge selection of interesting weapons to choose from. These range from a basic bow and arrows to your usual pistol and shotgun, right up to the legendary Cerebral Bore. Those who played the N64 will be shuddering at the memory of dentist’s drill like noise of the weapon. The Cerebral Bore locks on to an individual enemy and they start running from you, knowing what is about to happen. The weapon fires a slow moving homing projectile, which clamps onto the victim’s skull upon impact. It then drills into their brain for a few seconds, combined with a high pitched drilling sound and a stream of blood and grey brain matter, before exploding and blowing their head off. Despite the stream of ultra-violent modern games, the Cerebral Bore loses none of its impact!

Everything changes, but you

Graphically, the game looks great. Textures are still the same simple ones used in the original version of the game, but the HD treatment gives the game a satisfying chunky feel whilst preserving the classic look. Character designs are simple but really well done and help the gunplay remain satisfying more than 20 years later. I noticed a small issue with the graphics in the first level of the game, whereby in certain areas the level geometry would take a split second to load when turning quickly, meaning you could briefly see into the endless abyss. Personally, I prefer my games to be a bit of an escape from real life!

I also noticed the sound in certain sections of the Lair of the Blind ones level was really choppy. I’m not sure if this was purely a filter intended to give an echo effect, as the section is set in a cave, or if it was an issue with this version of the game. I didn’t get the opportunity to compare with the original to see if this is a new issue.

Overall the game doesn’t include too many changes from the original, but rather polishes up the game to let an N64 classic shine in the modern age. Turok 2 is still a great game to play through and the little changes which have been made serve to make the game a bit more accessible in the modern era.

Waiting for a mate

One glaring omission is the lack of a multiplayer mode. The N64 version included multiplayer and Nightdive improved on this with their PC and Xbox releases to include the ability to play online. It’s not clear why this hasn’t been included in the Switch version. I contacted Nightdive to see if there are any plans to add multiplayer at a later date, but at the time of publishing this review had not received a response. It looks, unfortunately, like the Switch version of the game may be slightly hampered in this respect when compared with the other options. Cruelly, the end credits still mention the team members responsible for the multiplayer mode.

A final thing I want to point out is something that many people might miss. The N64 version of Turok 2 included a huge number of cheats which could be unlocked by entering the phrase “BEWAREOBLIVIONISATHAND” in the relevant part of the options menus. This still works in the Switch version, however Nightdive have added in some new options. On top of the classics like Big Head mode and Gouraud mode comes Super-Rok mode. This is an amazing SUPERHOT reference, with a really cool graphics filter that makes the game look just like the crazy puzzle shooter. What I didn’t realise initally is that it also modifies the gameplay to make it play like SUPERHOT.

I remember spending a lot of time as a kid playing around with the various cheats, so it was a nice surprise to be able to go back and do this with some new additional ways to play.

Final thoughts

Nightdive have done a great job of preserving Turok 2 to be appreciated by a new generation of gamers and allowing us old guys to go back and enjoy an old favourite. The Turok games don’t have the best reputation, but having played through this remaster I can honestly say it still holds up, albeit with some frustrating issues due to its age. The small changes made in this version help smooth the edges and make the difficulty a little more palatable. I couldn’t remember any of the later areas in the game from my time with the original, which makes me think I must have got stuck at a certain point when playing on N64.

The omission of multiplayer does stick out like a sore thumb in what is otherwise a brilliant package to preserve a fondly remembered N64 gem.

The only issue is it leaves me craving more N64 games on the Switch. Maybe, just maybe, we will see N64 games included in the Nintendo Switch Online offering one day!

Pros

  • A faithful preservation of the original game
  • New features ease the difficulty somewhat
  • Gunplay remains as satisfying more than 20 years later

Cons

  • Some minor performance issues
  • No multiplayer
  • A little expensive when compared with recent DOOM releases

Verdict

This version of Turok 2 presents a brilliant way of playing a memorable N64 classic. The simple changes make the game more approachable and help somewhat to smooth out some of the more frustrating elements of the original. The shooting mechanics and ultra violent death animations combine for a truly satisfying old-school experience. But for the omission of multiplayer, Nightdive have done a great job.

3.5/5

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