The Age of the Polygon Begins
In 1997, the gaming market was experiencing a dramatic change. One year earlier Nintendo released their 64-bit console to a rabid fanbase who were looking for the next best thing in digital entertainment. The N64’s flagship title, Super Mario 64, left an indelible mark on the gaming community, showing players that a truly fleshed out 3D experience was possible, unlike what Sega CD had offered. This led more developers to throw their hats in the ring, and that includes Acclaim Entertainment. When I say they threw in their hat, I mean that they threw in their giant Indian headdress with the iconic first-person shooter, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.
Enter Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
Based off of the Valiant and Darkhorse Comic of the same name, Turok (Johnny Fireseed) was a Native American who was given the role of Defender of the Lost Lands. This place is an interdimensional plain where bits and pieces of history are tossed when they are “lost” in time. Of course, dinosaurs are known to roam the lands as well. An evil warlord named the Campaigner wants to rule over the lands and use its resources to conquer other worlds. He is particularly interested in obtaining the Cronoscepter, a powerful weapon that was divided into 7 pieces and scattered across the Lost Lands. Turok must obtain the pieces before the Campaigner does to ensure that our world, as well as countless others, are protected from this madman’s wrath.
As neat as the story was, I was never interested in it. Having the ability to eviscerate dinosaurs in glorious 3D was good enough for me. Recently a port for the game was released on the Nintendo Switch simply named Turok. There was no question, I knew I had to get my hands on it. After playing the game once again, I realized that I simply had too much to say about it to not write an article. What better way to do this than on a Throwback Thursday.
Without further ado, here is my review of the N64 port, Turok, on the Nintendo Switch.
Hi-Def and 64-bits
When playing a port of a game that is nearly 22 years old, graphics are always the first thing players look at. Back in those days, 3-dimensional gameplay was relatively new, and polygons were used to express depth within the environment. In the age of stark remasters, seeing polygons in a “new” game can be quite a shock, but the developers over at Nightdive Studios have done a great job at remastering the original aesthetic of the game. And when I say “remaster”, I do not mean updatng the graphics. Turok is still played toting very similar graphics to its N64 counterpart, but this time everything is sharper and more defined.
Possibly the biggest change to the graphics is the elimination of the thick “content fog” from the N64 game. 22 years ago, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter pushed the limitations of the GPU in the N64. To combat this, the developers at Iguana Entertainment created a fog that shrouded a large portion of the visual content. That was made to allow for the game to run seamlessly without overclocking the graphics unit. Since it is now 2019, the fog has been lifted and Turok can now see more depth in the Lost Lands than ever before. It is a very welcome change.
A Pleasant Gameplay Experience
The N64 controller was odd at best. Playing the original game with the three-pronged monstrosity did not allow for the freedom of movement that modern day controllers support. On the Switch, Turok’s movements are so much easier to direct through using both directional sticks. With the updated visuals, including high framerate, the movement within the game allows for easier negotiation around obstacles and firefights.
Of course, you can’t have an awesome dino slaughtering title without great sound. The sound quality of this port is phenomenal, providing crisp sound effects for everything from the environment to the rattling carnage of the minigun. The soundtrack is great as well, sporting the same tribal drums and intense music as the original. For those you who are a bit more nostalgic than others, there is an option within the game to return the sound settings to the N64 era.
Rentering the 20th Century FPS
For those of you who cut your first-person shooting teeth on modern-day titles like Call of Duty and Overwatch, you need to know that Turok is literally from another time altogether. 20th century FPS games were known for being semi-linear collectathons. The level designs were more maze-like than an actual straight shot to the end. Turok definitely fits that mold, and that is off-putting for many players. At times the environment can look generic, having very few landmarks that set one place apart from the other. Really, it was just the sign of the times.
This game is also very difficult. Though Turok is able to carry an entire arsenal of weapons on him at all times, those weapons have very limited ammunition, so every shot has to count. And not every shot is going to kill an enemy either. The hitboxes were not fine-tuned during this time. Headshots do just about as much damage as a shot in the foot. This is good for players who have a terrible aim, but it definitely increases the difficulty.
Turok starts off with 100 health and 3 lives. After 100 little jewles are colelcted, Turok then recieves another life. There are save points set up around the various levels. Unfortunately, the game data can only be saved when Turok accesses those stations. This is the way FPS games were, and if you don’t like it, don’t play it.
The Final Verdict
Turok for the Nintendo Switch is an N64 port done right. All of the features that we have come to know and love are still accounted for. It is apparent that this game has aged surprisingly well. The remastering of the visuals add needed depth to the gameplay and allow for the player to fully experience the game without the limitations of the hardware. If you loved the game back in the 90s, then I highly recommend that you pick up a copy.
So, I give Turok for the Nintendo Switch 8.5 disemboweled dinos out of 10. Keep in mind, there is nothing better than stabbing a bunch of beetles with a hunting knife. It’s really the only way to take care of those nasty little things.