Cast your mind back to 1997 when the Nintendo 64 was touted as the most powerful games console in the Universe. Turok Dinosaur Hunter was released on Nintendo’s latest box of delights, and it set the world on fire.
Fast forward to 2019 and sadly Acclaim is no more. However, Nightdive Studios have picked up the rights to re-release the game (and they’ve brought both the original and the sequel; Seeds of Evil) to the PC and it has now touched down on Nintendo Switch.
Gameplay wise, it’s actually an interesting setup. Throughout each levels there are keys present. The aim here is to collect all of the keys so that you can progress onto the next level. This is somewhat different from other FPS games on the N64 such as GoldenEye, with the latter having various objectives to meet.
However, one of the stand out parts of Turok is the jump mechanic. Despite being 22 years old, the jumping is by and large pretty much spot on.
The action can also be pretty frantic at times with there being more than a few enemies on the screen at any one time. It can be a real challenge, and sometimes it’s a safer option to carry on running instead of wasting your entire supply of ammo taking out the enemies.
What might shock newer gamers though is the lack of checkpoints. Unlike games such as COD that has a checkpoints liberally placed out throughout a level, the same isn’t true of Turok. In all honesty it’s good to be able to go back and experience what games used to be like in terms of difficulty and pacing.
The enemies themselves are pretty smart and they will flock to you. If you manage to time it right, you can actually get a grenade touting enemy to take out another one that’s running towards you. Not only do they fly quite far across the map if they get hit by the grenade, but it’s saving you bullets. After not having seen it for so many years, it had me in fits of laughter experiencing it again. There’s plenty of challenge spread across the 8 levels in the game and definitely one that you’ll continue coming back to.
A fresh lick of paint
Given that it has already been given a spit polish for the Steam release, it’s no surprise that the visual finesse is also seen here. No longer does the screen look as though a potato had been smeared over it. Instead, the graphics are nice and crisp. There is also the option to increase the field of view, as well as being able to turn off the fog effect in game. Back in 1997, the fog was present to that massive levels could be made, without bringing the frame rate down to single digits.
In handheld more, there were some instances of a small amount of dropped frames for a few seconds, however, this certainly isn’t a deal breaker, and does add a touch of nostalgia to the older gamers that are going back to this.
The graphics aren’t the only thing that’s been updated. Gyro controls have also been included in the game. This was actually quite a curious addition, and it’s genuinely pleasing to see that Nightdive is keen to use more of the features on the Switch. I found myself alternating between having the gyro controls on and off and it was a more interesting way to play it.
For those that remember the N64 soundtrack, it sounded pretty great. This was despite the fact that the music was being loaded off of a cartridge that required compression, as opposed to a game loaded onto a disc. In a nice touch, you can either choose to have the soundtrack as it was on the N64 or you can opt to have the PC soundtrack instead. The PC version is a lot more immersive, but both are great.
A blast from the past
One thing that will really shock new gamers is the fact that enemies respawn. This is a trend that has faded away in recent years. Another trend that we don’t see any more is an inbuilt cheat system. I’m so glad that Nightdive decided to keep the cheat menu included in the game. There’s a lot of cheats that you can use, and a personal favourite is the big head mode. It adds a nice bit of variety to the game and once you’ve completed it, it doesn’t make you feel as bad putting on all of the cheats and destroying everything that comes into your path.
It is available now on Nintendo Switch and also via Humble Bundle for Steam
Turok Dinosaur Hunter really is a window to the past. It’s a brilliant shooter with old school mechanics that will put a smile on new and old gamers alike.