Nightdive Studios is releasing remasters of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil for the Xbox One. I played these remasters. They run beautifully. I made a video about Turok, and what's so weird and good about it.
Editor's Note: Turok and Turok 2 aren't currently available on the Xbox store in Australia. Neither remaster has been rated by the Classification board (for any platform), with the most recent rating issued to Turok and Turok 4 in 2007 and 2002 respectively.
I love Turok. I have fond memories of playing through the first two games on the Nintendo 64 in 1997 and 1998. Before this new Xbox One remaster, Nightdive Studios remastered the games for PC in 2015 and 2017. I bought those versions. So did my friend Brent Porter. (I've been making video games with Brent Porter for about eight years, by the way.)
Brent Porter likes Turok more than I do, so it would have been a grave mistake to make a video using footage I captured myself. The footage in this video is Porter playing the PC remaster of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter from 2015. His prodigious talent at the game is marvellous.
The great thing about the age of digital distribution is how it's allowed people to relive their gaming memories without going through the hassle of abandonware and the pitfalls that sometimes brings. Discounts on games from the 1990's are a dime a dozen now, but it wasn't that long ago that getting them to work on modern operating systems was a nightmare. But that's all in the past. Maybe a better way of putting it is to say that the past is now part of our future. Problem is, sometimes the past is better left alone - as I discovered with the remaster of Turok. Dinosaur Hunter.
In the video, I recommend you the film The Phantom (1996), starring Billy Zane. I talk about Brent Porter's taste in games. I pitch you a game we're making. And we delve into Turok's level design, which leads me to declare that video games are "goofier than a cotton candy sandwich."
And I'm all out of not loving cotton candy sandwiches.
Turok is a neat game. It interests me to this day. It was such a weird thing for a shrilly goreful, cutting-edge first-person shooter to appear on a Nintendo console in 1997. It felt like the beginning of a new era. It surprised me in 1997, and it still surprises me today, to witness the brutality of the kills in this game.
If you shoot a soldier in the neck, he'll stand there screaming horribly, clutching his geysering jugular for five or more seconds before he falls over. This is gruesome, cathartic, and weird. It also doesn't help the gameplay: sometimes, from a distance, the difference between "still alive" and "not yet dead" is tricky to discern. It's weird in a way I personally love.
Nintendo in 1997 might have wanted something that could go toe to toe with 1996's Quake. Turok is a weird attempt at making a Quake-like work on a game controller. It's got so many weird Mario-coin-like pickups littering its levels, breadcrumbing you toward objectives.
Playing it in 2018 simultaneously evokes nostalgia for NES games and PC FPSes. Its levels often exhibit cavernous wastes of space, though what's quainter than wasting space in a game designed to waste your time?
Turok is a game about a Native American stereotype trapped in a "Lost Valley," blasting angry soldiers and the dinosaurs they somehow coexist militarily with. This is a pulpy, odd concept, befitting the original 1956 comic Turok, Son of Stone.
All these elements gel together to form a uniquely textured game experience. This is the sort of series where I would say "the second one is better," though which one is "better" is totally beside the point.
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