Something I don’t do very often when it comes to writing reviews is to look on what other people have written, a trend I broke with Turok 3: Shadows of Oblivion. I personally really loved the first Turok Game Boy outing, and while disappointed by the simplicity in its sequel, I still enjoyed it much more than the boring and repetitive Turok: Rage Wars. This sentiment it seems was one not shared by game sites of the time who much preferred the gameplay found in the last two portable Turok’s over the first two. Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion was a return to form somewhat on the N64 from the too big for its own good Turok 2 and the very much of its time spin-off Rage Wars. With the closing chapter of the original Turok Game Boy series, I was hoping that the GBC version of Oblivion would be more like the action/platformer outings of the first two games, but instead it shares a lot of the same DNA as Rage Wars. While it’s a much more fun game with a few slight changes to the established formula, Turok 3 on the GBC fails to be the revival that the N64 game of the same name was.
Like the last two Game Boy Turok’s, Shadow of Oblivion has a completely different story that concludes what the other handheld titles were telling since part two. This time around humans and Dinosoids have come together to live in a peaceful existence, with the exception of a rogue group of Dinosoids who will stop at nothing to make sure this never happens. As defender of the Lost Land, Turok is summoned to combat the rebel Dinosoid threat and stop all out war. Also similar to the rest of the GBC Turok’s, the story isn’t really that important and if you skip through most of the story portions, you won’t miss out on anything. There’s more to tell about groups and factions as well as other characters, but you won’t be invested in Turok 3’s story. The title isn’t really all the fitting to the game either, as Oblivion was a character introduced in Turok 2: Seeds of Evil that went on to be the big had of Turok 3 on the N64. Here there’s no mention of the entity, nor any real indication that even if Turok fails, things will cease to exist. Also weird is that this game uses the same packaging as the console title yet is rated “E” as opposed to “M”, yet retains the bizarre fetus in the “O” of the Turok lettering. It also crops out the two new characters from the console game: Danielle and Joseph, and continues the adventures of Joshua Fireseed, I’m assuming because that means Bits Managers would’ve had to create some new character models.
Oblivion’s base gameplay is nearly identical to Rage Wars where the focus is on action over anything else. You play from both a side and overhead view in a feel like a beat-em-up where you simply have to get from one end of a level to another and either collect a key upon completion or destroy things along the way like ammo dumps, fuel tanks, or items that look like wicker baskets. The levels are really just as unexciting and bland as Rage Wars and feel even simpler. A lot of the time you don’t even have to engage with enemies as skipping along with the A button is just as an effective strategy. This also makes the rather large arsenal completely superfluous as it would’ve been just as good to have two weapons: a knife and a gun of some sorts.
Things do get changed up in select levels where instead of going in a straight line you’ll have to go into doors that lead you into new areas, and this just makes the game more frustrating as there’s no map or clear indication as to where you’ll end up. What the game doesn’t explain to you in any way, and this is in the first level mind you, is that you also have to look for switches to throw on the wall in order to unlock a stage’s exit. I restarted the game many times thinking I had done something wrong when my progress came to a screeching halt when a wall appeared out of nowhere with no indication as to how to lower it. I made sure I had all the keys, I tried attacking it, but neither tactic work. This turned me to online assistance where I was made aware I had to throw switches to lower the blockade, something I found out that isn’t communicated in either A) the game or B) the game’s instruction manual, which I didn’t have.
Not helping matters are the game’s graphics, which although looking the best the series has due to it being a Game Boy Color dedicated cart, also obscure what should be interacted with. Compare this to the first Turok Game Boy game which was in black and white and clearly indicated what could and could not be interacted with. This isn’t limited to switches though, but also pick-ups. When you kill an enemy, they sometimes leave behind ammo or health that quickly disappears and more than a few times I didn’t see an item drop because it blended in with the ground. What I’ll give this game above Rage Wars is that while the level design is the game, there’s less self-scrolling stages and when they do show up, they don’t last nearly as long. Overall this game is much more manageable to complete than Rage Wars was as well, as I didn’t get stuck on the very first level for way too long like that game.
The new addition to Turok 3 is vehicles that gives the game somewhat of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES feel. You’re given an objective to complete at the start of the games five stages like get keys to open the final portion or collect a weapon for an NPC, and you accomplish this by completing small stages. In order to get to those stages you have to pilot vehicles to find them. Sometimes it’s not that much of a chore, like in the first area but as the game rolls on, this latest addition just exists to extend what would otherwise be a very short game by making you comb up and down a map looking for where to go. As you share the same health and lives as your player character, just like in TMNT, you’ll find yourself repeating stages as you find out exactly where you need to go and the best way to get there with minimal loss of lives and health.
You pilot a small fleet of vehicles, from a tank, a speed boat, a jeep as well as a river boat but all control the same, which is to say adequately. If like me, you logged hours playing classic Resident Evil on the PSOne you’ll have no problem getting your vehicle from point A to B as they have the same turn/pivot tank controls. Even if you’re not an RE veteran, you’ll pick up controls pretty quickly and while they’re not the best or even ideal, they’re also not the worst. The vehicle portions don’t take up as much time as the action stages, but you still need to get comfortable with them in order to get to said stages with as little damage as possible.
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion on the Game Boy Color is a better game than Turok: Rage Wars, but it’s still nowhere near as engaging as the first two portable Turok’s. The base gameplay is a truncated version of what was found in the last game, and while that’s an improvement, it was never really that interesting to being with. The inclusion of vehicles gives this game an identity to stand apart from Rage Wars, but they don’t really add that much other than to make the game longer and perhaps add a selling point to the back of the packaging. People who crave more action might like this game better than the first two portable Turok’s, but I found Shadows of Oblivion, much like Rage Wars, to be pretty forgettable and somewhat boring game overall. Those hoping that Oblivion on the GBC would be a return to form like the console game will come away disappointed.
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