Nightdive Studios is releasing remasters of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil for the Xbox One on March 2. I played these remasters. They run beautifully. I made a video about Turok, and what’s so weird and good about it.
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 marvelous.
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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