DEVELOPERS: Iguana Entertainment (originals)/Nighdive Studios (remasters)
PUBLISHERS: Acclaim Entertainment (originals)/Nightdive Studios (remasters)
REVIEWED ON: PlayStation 4 (slim) from copies purchased by the author.
When players think of the Nintendo 64’s library, they tend to think of big, first party Nintendo titles like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time or four-player party favorites like Super Smash Bros. and GoldenEye 007. This is not exactly exclusive to Nintendo’s debut 3-D consoles, as going all the way back to the Famicom/NES and to the most recent Nintendo Switch, the companies’ hardware has primarily been sold on the back of their in-house offerings.
The Nintendo 64 had little in the way of exclusive third-party exclusives, but one that truly stood out was Acclaim’s Turok series. Launched in early 1997 and based off of a decades old comic book series, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was one of the early hits on the console, with its success spawning two sequels, a multiplayer centric spin-off plus companion titles for both the original Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color.
Thanks to Nightdive Studios, both Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and its first sequel, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, have been lovingly remastered and have easily become the best way to experience both titles. After makings their way to Sony’s major competitors in the hardware space, Nightdive has finally brought both games to the PlayStation ecosystem and while they don’t exactly warrant a repurchase if you own them on another device, die-hard PlayStation only fans now have two mostly great classic first-person shooters to dive into.
Everything we wrote about Turok in our review of the 2019 Nintendo Switch port is true for the PlayStation 4 conversion. While lite on story, Turok is a blisteringly fast shooter that is far richer in detail than the Nintendo 64 original thanks to the removal of the fog that plagued it because of hardware limitations. It comes complete with plenty of modern upgrades, with the biggest being the ability to aim and move with dual-analog controls, plus the ability to bind your buttons to whatever function you wish and aim with gyro motions.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, while a much more ambitious title than the original which, when boiled down to its most basic elements, largely focused on shooting, flipping switches, collecting keys and clumsy platforming, but it has aged far, far worse. For an in-depth review of the Nintendo Switch port, which is identical to what can be found on PlayStation 4, you can read my review written for Electric Bento. (AUTHOR’S NOTE: Electric Bento is currently down)
Both titles are known for their creative, not to mention destructive, arsenal, and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil’s best aspect is clearly its weapons. This is the game that introduced the head seeking Cerebral Bore, a weapon that’s so iconic that it’s easily what comes to mind first when thinking about Turok 2. In reading that last sentence, you can probably hear the screeching sound in your head if you’ve experienced the game in the past.
The biggest problem with Turok 2 comes with its level design. Stages in the original were big, but in the sequel, they’re gargantuan, with too much stuffed within them. You still have to hunt keys to open later stages – not to mention another set for the final encounter – and on top of that, you have multiple mission objectives to complete, and feathers to find that, when collected, must be brought to special portals that also need to be unlocked. There are also optional portals that help build a powerful Nuke weapon, but with respect to the feathers, the abilities they grant, such as being able to walk on fire and survive poison water, are mandatory for your quest.
It’s easy to get lost in Turok 2’s stages, and failure to complete any one of your mission objectives sends you right back to the start of them. Certain collectibles are also locked behind abilities that you don’t get until later on which creates the need for tedious backtracking. In the remaster, Nightdive added helpful icons in the environment as a guide of sorts, but even with this addition, it’s still easy to miss things that are vital to your progression. At the very least you can also save whenever you want, which wasn’t the case with the original release that also hogged most of the space on your memory card.
When it launched in early 1997, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was devoid of a multiplayer suite, something that came to Turok 2 after the success of GoldenEye 007. Up until now, this feature has been missing from Nightdive’s remasters, however for the PlayStation 4 release, it has been added back in. Not only that, it’s also cross-compatible with the Nintendo Switch version which also had multiplayer patched in at no additional cost.
Unless you’re setting up custom matches with friends online like how you met up in person once upon a time, however, don’t expect to turn on Turok 2 at any given time and find a match. When searching for a match a week after release, both on PlayStation 4 and with Nintendo Switch players, there wasn’t a soul playing Turok 2. Upon its release in late 1998 in North America, players were hungry for more deathmatch action, however in 2021, there are a glut of options to pick from and Turok 2 appears to be lost in a sea of competition.
If you’ve primarily stuck with the PlayStation brand as your means to play video games, chances are you missed out on Acclaim’s Turok outings. If you’re a lover of classic first-person shooters, or have simply wanted to see what your Nintendo 64 owning friends were bragging about back in the day, you owe it to yourself to at least give Turok a chance. If you find yourself enjoying it, you should also consider giving the sequel a chance, just be mindful that the amount of things you have to keep track of can be overwhelming. Don’t be ashamed one bit for seeking out a helpful guide like this one.
Now what Nightdive has finally made the first two Turok games available on everything, hopefully they’ll turn their attention to finishing off the trilogy.
Turok and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil are available now on PlayStation 4. Both are backwards compatible on PlayStation 5. They’re also available on Microsoft’s Xbox One, Series S and X via backwards compatibility, Nintendo Switch and PC.