Nightdive Studios effectively resurrected the dormant Turok franchise, a once prominent third-party exclusive for the Nintendo 64 from the now defunct Acclaim, by crafting wonderful remasters of the beloved first and second entries of the series for PC. Nightdive have since ported both games to the Xbox One family of consoles, and now after many years the Turok series has come home to where it all started in the late ’90’-s: Nintendo.
Earlier this year Nightdive released Turok for the Nintendo Switch and now its sequel, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, has also found its way to Nintendo’s latest console. While Nightdive has done what they could within the framework of Turok 2’s design to make it easily the best version of that game, it simply hasn’t aged as well as the original despite being a respectful first-person shooter adventure in its own right.
Picking up after the conclusion of Turok, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil sees the introduction of Joshua Fireseed, the next inline to inherit the mantle of Turok after Tal’Set, the protagonist of the first game. After Tal’Set throws the reassembled Chronoscepter into a volcano for fear of it falling into the wrong hands, its destruction sends out a powerful shock wave that awakens an ancient, slumbering evil known as the Primagen. As the newest Turok, it’s up to Joshua Fireseed to help fight back the armies of the Primagen which seek to destroy the Energy Totem’s that were erected to keep him imprisoned in his lightship.
Despite being based on a decades old comic book, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter did little to introduce players into the universe of the character as all of story was relegated to the game’s instruction manual. Turok 2 on the other hand does a lot to build out the Turok world in-game with each level getting its own introduction explaining the location you’re going and the enemies that inhabit it. This is done by a support character, Adon, explaining everything to Turok with fully voiced dialogue. It’s quaint in 2019 to see a more or less silent protagonist being spoken to by a character whose mouth doesn’t move, but for the Nintendo 64 once upon a time, this was cutting edge stuff.
This wasn’t just in how Acclaim evolved their story telling, but how they used every facet of the Nintendo 64. The systems newly released expansion pak allowed for sharper graphics, the rumble pak accessory jolted your controller with every arrow or bullet fired, and four-player, split-screen multiplayer was added for the first time in the series to compete with the likes of GoldenEye 007.
For those who have fond memories of late-night Turok 2 multiplayer sessions, it’s a mode that has been axed from the remaster. While it was an important selling point for Turok 2 back when it was new, the game doesn’t really lose anything by not having it in 2019. The work that Nightdive would have to put in to get it working would ultimately be wasted for something that people would probably try once or twice for nostalgia before going back to something like Overwatch.
Upon its release, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter impressed with its massive, wide open levels to explore and all these years later, its structure still holds up, especially against a lot of modern entries in the genre that are largely interconnected corridors. Mostly for worse, Acclaim and original developer Iguana Entertainment went with the “bigger is better” approach for the sequel to the point where it feels daunting entering new level. Turok 2 feels less like a first-person shooter at times and more like a Rare collect-a-thon like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64.
Like in the first game, you have to collect keys to unlock new levels – and an extra key per level to be able to fight the final boss – on top of having to complete level specific objectives. Then there are portals you have to uncover, which require you to unlock them with hidden switches. Some house new abilities for Turok that allow him to walk in lava or swim in poisonous water, but you have to track down an eagle feather before you gain access to these abilities. Others are home to combat arenas where your reward is a part of a powerful weapon called the Nuke which unlocks when you find all the pieces, just like it was with the Chronoscepter in the first game.
Turok 2 only has six levels, but they’re overwhelmingly massive to the point where it will take you multiple hours just to get through each of them. You can’t leave a stage until you complete all of your mission objectives, so if you manage to only miss one part, you’re thrown all the way back to the start. Worse still you can only get important items after you get power-ups from later levels, so you’re expected to back track through already complete stages to get one item. Enemies respawn when you return to complete levels, or if you explore backwards through levels, but luckily you have a hefty arsenal to fight back against the dinosaur, human hybrids and other aliens you come up against.
Ask most people what they remember about Turok 2, and they’ll more than likely bring up the creative weapons. Turok 2 introduced the fan favorite Cerebral Bore, a weapon that makes a screeching noise as it seeks to drill into the skull of the enemy you’ve targeted. The Shredder uses your pool of shotgun shells to ricochet shots around the environment and the Razor Wind is a bladed boomerang you can hurl at enemies. Your bow can be upgraded to have sniper capabilities and you can also switch between powerful ammo in weapons like the shotgun and bow which have alternate explosive rounds. As much of a slog it can be at times to get through Turok 2’s levels, at the very least you’re given many creative options about how you want to go about fighting enemies.
Nightdive largely untouched Turok 2 from how you remember it, but they did make some changes that make it far more enjoyable to play. A big one is the ability to save anywhere you want. In the Nintendo 64 original, you could only save at designated save points which were hours apart from one another. One save file in Turok 2 also took up most of the limited memory of the N64’s memory pak so you could only have one save file at a time unless you had multiple cards to switch between. Save points have a different function here, acting as warp points instead. This makes backtracking to completed levels, or within one you’re already in if you’ve missed something important, far more tolerable.
Another feature you can toggle on and off in the option menu is the ability to display hints within a level. Important switches, keys, and mission objectives will be marked with yellow exclamation points to help guide you towards them. If you’re playing this game for the first time, or coming back to years later, this hint system is highly recommended as its very easy to miss important things that blend into the environment. Turok 2 is a very dark game, both in its tone and its levels, and it’s very easy to get stuck in a room not knowing how to progress further because you simply didn’t know that object on the floor or underwater is something important.
If you didn’t grow up in the era where games like Turok 2 were new, you’ll probably turn it off within seconds if you play it now after you struggle to move with the yellow C-buttons while trying to aim with the analog stick. This remaster not only comes with modern dual-analog support, but it also offers a lot of customization options in how you go about setting up your controls. If you want to use gyro aiming, you can, and you can also remap all the buttons on your controller until you get everything exactly as you like it. In the default setting, you cycle between your weapons with the top trigger buttons, but you can also change that such you open up weapon wheels like in the N64 game. Should you wish you can even map quick save and load buttons.
These options just aren’t limited to controls, but to the audio and visual presentation as well. You can change the music such that it sounds like the N64 game or its PC port and there’s an overwhelming amount of graphical options to work your way through. This comes in handy when running the game in handheld mode. In contrast to the first game which features lush jungles, Turok 2 trades that in for a lot of darker, dimly lit environments, and while Nightdive has made this the sharpest looking version of Turok 2, they still have to work within the existing assets created by Iguana. Turok 2 runs with no recognizable problems in handheld mode, it’s just a tougher game to see without adjusting tweaking the visual fidelity but Nightdive has this more than covered.
For the time it was released, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil gave you a lot of game for your money. Revisiting the original now though is tough due to its dated controls and how unnecessarily large and packed with things to accomplish the levels are. This remaster from Nightdive Studios fixes all of these problems with some creative solutions, making this the definitive version of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. When compared to the debut entry in the series, Turok 2 doesn’t hold up nearly as well, but in terms of what game benefits the most from a modern upgrade, it’s easily Turok 2.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is available now for Nintendo Switch. This review is based on a copy of the game purchased by the reviewer. Purchases are available here.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
- Tons of customization options from the controls to the graphics and music
- Updated save anywhere feature
- Helpful hint system
- Creative and fun to wield weapons like the Cerebral Bore
- Levels are far too long
- Annoying backtracking
- No multiplayer may disappoint some