Turrican

Old school values in a shooting, blazing, lazering-fest

If you're under the age of 15, it's unlikely you remember the days of Big Breakfast and Ben the Boffin, the resident computer games expert on Channel 4's breakfast TV show. Nor Gamesmasters' north-of-the-border cheeky chap Dominik Diamond. You probably won't remember a game called Turrican, either. It is to Halo what milk is to cheese, a forerunner, if you will, from a time when Wagon Wheels were five times bigger than they are today, when boys discovered enlightenment through grunge, and girls were mourning the loss of New Kids On The Block. It was an age when the sideways-scrolling platform shoot-'em-up was in its' prime, offering the complete entertainment package for any self-respecting nerd, geek or dweeb.

So how well has this game endured after a generation of rapidly advancing technology and tastes? Upon playing it on mobile phone for the first time, it appears to be firmly loyal to its roots, sticking like a well-rubbed balloon on a woolly jumper. And this is no Bad Thing. The main problem with this game is that it feels tired, like it wants to take things slowly, go on a cruise and wrap its dentures around a Werther's Original.

The average level finds you running around in a big metal suit and this is fine, but that's about as good as it gets. The controls are very fiddly and, when faced with an onslaught of mutant bees and dwarf robots, it's practically impossible to dispatch them with anything resembling ease. Resorting to random jumps and wild button-thrashing in the hope of shooting the bad guys leaves it unrewarding, and you, the player, wanting to sob and cry and hark for a better, more simple life.

Interspersed with these walkabout levels are sideways-scrolling shoot-'em-ups, where you take control of a spaceship and shoot endless randomly-shaped objects whilst collecting power-ups in order to blow the rest of the screen away. This can actually be quite fun and the enemies and obstacles come thick and fast, but the speed at which everything happens becomes catatonic in the extreme. The handling is reduced to a dead snail's pace and that will soon extract any enjoyment that could have been had.

However, there are elements in Turrican that are very good indeed. On offer are various multiplayer options and difficulty levels, and the graphics on the whole are solid with nice backdrops and character animation. It's just a shame that they're let down by the awkward controls and sluggish pace. The one true highlight is undoubtedly the music. With great, pounding tunes you'll be the envy of the bus, office or toilet cubicles. It isn't enough to make this a modern classic in the way the original was back in the day, but it sure sounds pretty.

6 / 10

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