Monday, January 13, 2014

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

Released on February 28, 1997, by Acclaim Entertainment, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter features eight levels of first-person shooter action, as the titular character blasts through hundreds of the titular creatures, as well as countless strange beasts and tribal warriors, to ensure the Lost Land stays lost.

This is actually the first thing you see when you are born, but almost nobody remembers it. Personally, I should have gone to "ENTER CHEAT" first, instead of amping up the difficulty.  

The Personal Story: In the fall of 1997, I rented Turok: Dinosaur Hunter from "Vidiots," the greatest named video store of all time, so that I could write a review for Nintendojo(here is a link to that original review). In those days, I was only a high-schooler, and not the Curator, so I based my review on two days of gameplay, falling short of finishing the quest. I did not fully grasp the game, nor understand its ways. Now, I am the Curator, I have played Turok: DInosaur Hunter again, and also, I am a snappier dresser. After countless hours of gameplay, the Lost Land completely conquered, my khakis slightly less ill-fitting, here is a historically accurate assessment of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.  

Raptors in the mist.

Graphics: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter features above average graphics for a first-generation Nintendo 64 game. Acclaim did extensive motion capture work for character animation, and it pays off well in realism, though the amount of animation routines are small. Weapons look great, and their effects are pleasant to look at, if indeed carnage can be pleasant (hey, as long as it's not happening to you, right?). Blood sprays are accurately and lovingly rendered. Character models and designs are solid, and textures are, for the most part, only blurry upon close approach. The framerate is fast and smooth, and any seldom-occurring slowdown never affects gameplay. This speed of play and graphical quality come at a cost, though. To keep Turok: Dinosaur Hunter running without hiccup, and with the texture count so high (which keeps blurriness at a minimum), Turok's developers had to severely limit the depth of the player's field of vision. This means the player can see roughly 50 yards in any given direction at any time. While the fog doesn't hamper gameplay (you are never being attacked by something the fog obscures), it isn't least, not when you realize it is intentional. Then again, the fog does heighten the dark, fever dream-like atmosphere of Turok's world.

That guy owed me five dollars.

Sound: Acclaim originally had big plans for Turok's soundtrack, but they soon found themselves constrained by the new-fangled Nintendo 64's small cartridge space (As the system aged, cartridge space grew bigger, and developers discovered new methods of data compression, allowing for more complex musical scores). This led to Turok: Dinosaur Hunter featuring a more minimalistic score than the developers intended. Each level's soundtrack is generally composed of driving, tribal drums, backed by a lone synth line. Again, this drawback actually adds character to the game, nicely matching Turok's savage, prehistoric setting. Sound effects are also great, with each weapon packing a distinct aural punch. Ambient noise is immersive, monsters sound scary, and the game's few spoken lines are well read. The titular character's often-said, victorious cry, "I...AM TUROK!" never loses its near-legendary appeal.

I don't know about you, but when a glowing blue vortex appears, I jump right on into it.

Gameplay: Now this is a video game. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter contains two hallmarks of a great game. The first is that it is incredibly fun to play. The second is that the more one plays it, the better one plays. Most importantly, these two aspects work together to create a near sublime experience. The controls, tough to get a handle on at first, eventually become second nature. Weapons that at first seem unwieldy become close friends. Levels that seem incomprehensibly massive reveal themselves to be well-designed and easy to navigate. The player begins by tearing their way through the jungle, before traversing some wicked ruins, demonic catacombs, a treetop village, some blood-sucking dragonfly-infested lava pits (the dragonflies suck blood, not the lava pits), a surprise spaceship, and a technologically advanced fortress.

If there is one thing I hate more than dudes who owe me five dollars, it is dudes riding atop militarized triceratopses. 

The catacomb level illustrates everything right about this game. In theory, a dark, immense maze full of switches and evil, super-powered shamans should not be fun. In action, the gameplay and layout are so fluid, it is a shame the level has to end. The catacombs also feature one of Turok's four boss battles. Boss fights in Turok are fast, loud, frenetic, and usually involve running and firing as quickly as possible to avoid getting burned, stabbed, beaten, or eaten alive. Finally, every level contains a few well-placed save points, so the player can save their much-earned progress to a controller pak.

I believe you can fly/ride that blood spray to the open sky.

Lasting Value: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a difficult game. While it is not "Contra" hard, besting all eight levels will take an average player at least fifteen to twenty hours. The game does not feature any multiplayer modes, but the single player mission is still fun enough to play with friends...again and again.

Quite good for so old a game, but the ugly fog hurts.

Music and Sound
Guns and explosions pack a wallop. Ambient sounds bring the player into Turok's world. The intense, yet simple music gets the job done.

Excellent first-person shooter action. Blasting through foes from one end of each remarkably well-designed level to the next is incredibly satisfying.

Lasting Value
No multiplayer, but the twenty-hour single-player campaign is fun enough to keep Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in anyone's rotation.  


The Curator's Original 1997 Nintendojo Review of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

Originally published on Nintendojo, taken from the Nintendo 64 Museum Archives

Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter Reader Review
Game Review
Reader Review

Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter Reader Review
by Jon Maclane
For anyone who watched Jurassic Park and wanted to see Jeff Goldblum suddenly yank out an AK-47 and blow some velociraptors to shreds, your dream has come true. Acclaim has made one of the greatest shooters ever. If not for a few little(well, big) problems, this could be right up there with Goldeneye.
It would probably be better to get the bad stuff out of the way first.
1.The Fog- If this was Turok: The London Dinosaur Hunter, perhaps this would be explainable. In my opinion, 85% of the problems in this game stem from the fog. I don't mean off in the distance. I mean can't see 25 feet in front of you fog. It's very good that Acclaim made each of the levels about 5 square miles large, but when you can't see the cliffside 10 steps ahead of you and everything starts to look the same after 2 straight hours of playing the same me, this is not a good thing.
2. There is no crosshair- With the great death animations that were made it stinks that you get no crosshair to help you aim for the head or stomach that you are about to blow away.
Now for the good.
1. Sound- The sound is great. You can hear monkeys, cougars, and God Knows what screaming off in the background which gives very good effect. There is always a nice drum beat going on in the background which adds to the suspense. The raptor squeals and screams of pain from the humans you kill are also good.
2. Graphics- The dinosaurs all look great as well do the buildings and castles.(Well, what you can see of them) When you shoot something, blood gushes everywhere and on the wall behind it. The death animations are fantastically disgusting. When you hit someone in the neck, blood spurts out. When you hit someone in the stomach, they fall to the ground and push their bodies back as they gurgle blood everywhere. If some idiot is riding a triceratops, blow the triceratops away and watch as it falls on and crushes the poor schmuck riding it.
3. The weapons- missile launchers, pistols, machine guns, lasers, etc... You start with your knife and trusty Tek Bow and work your way up from there. There are about 10 weapons in all, and I am happy to say that they are all very, very nice.
4. The controls- Though awkward at first, the controls will soon grow on you. For whatever reason, the control stick is used to look around, and the c buttons are used to move. R to jump. As usual, the trusty Z button is the trigger button.
Even though this is a downside, I decided to save this for last. This game has almost zero replay value. After you beat a level, almost all of the enemies are gone, so there is no use to play it again. Worst of all, there is no save unless you have a memory pack. So if you don't, make sure that you get all of the level warp cheats from this website, or you are going to get severely angry and perhaps throw things.
So overall this is a definite rental, but you may want to think twice before you buy it.
Reviewed by Jon Maclane, Nintendojo Reader
Game Review
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
-awesome weapons
-nice death animations
-swell graphics
-big levels
-good atmosphere
-nice music

-no crosshair
-no replay value
-no multiplayer

1 Player(s)

Cartridge/Disk Size: 8 MB