Hello all! Last week’s game was a PS1 cult favorite that’s still unique, if a bit tough to actually play.
Today brings us to a game that I thought was cool, back in the day. Not so much now, but there’s still fun to be had. Kind of.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is an N64 title from 1997. Based on a comic, you play as Turok...Dinosaur Hunter, a time traveling Native American hero, traveling the Lost Land to defeat the Campaigner who’s trying to do...things. I honestly grabbed most of this story from an old strategy guide that I still have for some reason. The game itself doesn’t communicate the plot very well. You essentially start the game and immediately start shooting dudes and finding keys.
It’s a standard first-person-shooter that doesn’t really do anything unique; it released in a time where basically everything had to be DOOM or Quake. The most exciting thing about Turok, really, were the graphics, which were good back then. The maps were also quite big, although foggy. I mean, there really wasn’t much like this on the N64 at the time (GoldenEye was still about five months away), so Turok scratched that FPS itch for a little while.
I bought Turok when I was a kid; I must’ve been 10 or 11 years old, and it was pretty cool at the time to choose a game and buy it with my own money. This was before shops really checked to see if you were old enough to buy an M-Rated game, so it worked out fine for me. As a kid, you think almost every game is cool. I mean, you have all the time in the world to play it, and generally, there were less games to play—I didn’t have a PC, and a new game would happen pretty much only on birthdays and good report cards, plus whatever I rented at Blockbuster.
But upon the release of GoldenEye, I realized Turok was a bit lacking. Despite this, I’d go on to buy Turok 2 and 3, and holy crap I just checked and I do, in fact, own Turok: Evolution. This is mostly due to the games looking cool, but 2 and 3 are pretty fun. But here’s the thing about the first Turok, having played the remastered version on PC: it sucks.
Like, it’s pretty bad. Here’s a game that wasn’t super great in hindsight, and now it’s aged horribly. The entire package is just dumb; it was antiquated in 1997, and Turok is mostly a gaming history footnote. And yet, this is something I knew buying the remaster. I still dove in, deciding to give it another shot and maybe have a laugh. Or, maybe, just maybe, I’d discover that Turok was secretly really good, like what happens sometimes in this article series of mine.
Except this isn’t one of those times. I mean, kind of. Turok remains a bad game, but I kind of view it as watching a bad movie. Like something you’d watch on, like, the Syfy Channel. I think playing a bad game is occasionally fun. Especially with friends; you can all bust on the game, MST3K style. That’s what Turok is to me, now; a curiosity from my childhood that I can make fun of now, and have the same kind of fun I’d have watching Z Grade Monster Movie #79.
In short, we need terrible games; they make the good ones pop and they’re fun in a twisted sort of way. They’re also interesting to study; no one really wants to make a bad game, after all, and Turok was a game where its reach exceeded its grasp; one could argue that the tech wasn’t up to Turok’s standards, but there’s serious core design problems there, too. Nevertheless, pick up that remaster if it goes on sale; Turok is a crap game, but it’s also weirdly fun.
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Next week, I look at a classic PC RPG, one I never got to play until a couple years ago. It’s THE classic Infinity Engine game.