What do dinosaurs, time-traveling Native Americans, and aliens have in common? According to history, science, and philosophy, absolutely nothing. According to the creators of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter however, the seemingly crazy combination works perfectly together. Released on February 28, 1997, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (henceforth referred to Turok 64) made history as the first Nintendo 64 title to be developed by a third party. Beyond this landmark, Turok 64 aided in showcasing the possibilities of the first person shooter genre, even before the legendary release of GoldenEye 007. Despite general praise, many gamers are unfamiliar with the origins of the Turok saga. This article serves as a tribute to Turok 64, a game that at its core exemplified humor, entertainment, and WTF moments.
Turok is a game that was most likely intended to be taken seriously. The sober tone is in opposition to the impossible scenarios, low-budget sound effects, and destroy-everything gameplay, yet this marriage of dissimilar mechanics makes Turok a more entertaining game. The fact that gamers are expected to accept that a Native American guy uses both advanced space weapons and primitive tools to hunt raptors in an alternative universe is the kind of corny, absurdity that embodies Turok 64.
I played Turok 64 when I was 7 years old. I can’t tell you what it was about beyond killing dinosaurs and gun-wielding bad guys, but luckily Wikipedia can help us (myself included) enrich our understanding of the overall story:
The player assumes control of Tal’Set (Turok), a Native American time-traveling warrior. The mantle of Turok is passed down every generation to the eldest male. Each Turok is charged with protecting the barrier between Earth and theLostLand, a primitive world, where time has no meaning. TheLostLandis inhabited by a variety of creatures, from dinosaurs to aliens. An evil overlord known as the Campaigner seeks an ancient artifact known as the Chronoscepter, a weapon so powerful that it was broken into pieces to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. The Campaigner plans on using a focusing array to magnify the Chronoscepter’s power, destroying the barriers that separate the ages of time and rule the universe. Turok vows to find the Chronoscepter’s eight pieces and prevent the Campaigner’s schemes.
In all truthfulness, the plot is not what makes Turok 64 shine, except to illuminate the hilarity of a man dressed in traditional Native American clothes, wielding alien weapons, and killing every living creature in sight, including peaceful deer and bunny rabbits. The game never quite explains the concept of “The Lost Land” a world in which time has no meaning and creatures from past, present, and future frolic about, but it is a place I’ll happily visit with Turok.
Guns, Explosions, and More Guns
The Turok series’ greatest achievement was the inclusion of the most creative, bizarre, and deadly weapons imaginable. The first game featured the standard shooter gear: shotgun, assault rifle and pistol, plus a healthy dose of outrageous firearms: Minigun, Alien weapon, Plasma rifle, nuke-shooting Fusion cannon, and Chronoscepter. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil pushed the boundaries of weaponry even further with the inclusion of the Razor Wind, a spinning boomerang of death, the Cerebral Bore, a weapon that locks onto the brain-waves of potential targets and burrows deep into their skulls finally to administer a spectacular BOOM, and many more.
The only way some guy wearing a feather hat is going to have any chance battling a T-Rex with lasers, a praying mantis on steroids, or an armored gorilla, is with a fully-stocked arsenal of battle gear. To parallel his technological accompaniments, Turok also carried a hunting knife and a bow and arrow. Why would the protector of time and space need a wooden bow and arrow when he has a gun that shoots nukes? Who knows, but the nonsensicality is a key component to the splendor that is Turok 64.
If only the owner of Jurassic Park hired Turok for security! The franchise’s armaments elevated Turok 64 from ordinary shooter into a video game classic; its originality has served as inspiration for numerous games, and will most likely continue to be a source of unaccredited appreciation for years to come. Have you ever played Gears of War? If so then you might recall a deadly, explosive weapon called the Torque Bow. I’m sorry to say it, but Turok 64 thought of it first with the Tek Bow.
Blood, Gore, and Death Screams
The guns included don’t just serve to hit an enemy; they explode, disintegrate and launch bad guys (and unsuspecting deer) into inexistence. The great thing about Turok 64 is that enemies are rarely entirely dead. Even after their bodies lay motionless, a simple shot from a grenade launcher or shotgun with explosive shells will send the corpse blasting-off into the sky followed by a trail of blood (that players can toggle red, green, or purple).
Did I mention that each and every time this is done; the enemy will expel a cheesy, blood-curdling scream? Obviously I might have been a little strange as a kid because I can clearly recall launching bodies into the air over and over again to hear that unconvincing “ARGHHHAHHHH” in repetition. Ahhh good times.
The game also features an assortment of cheats that kicked up the fun level, while allowing players to approach the already comical atmosphere with an ever higher dose of gut-busting, laughter. Some of these codes include: infinite ammo, unlock all weapons, disco mode, quack mode, purdy colors, and of course big head mode. While many cheat codes hinder the challenge and fun of a game, Turok’s additional modes uplift the game.
The Series as a Whole
The Turok series consists of 6 video games ranging from 1997 to the most recent installment in 2008. Unfortunately, most of the games do not possess the same charm as Turok 64 and pail in overall comparison. Some were enjoyable, such as Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, but none were able to fill the void of gore, gunplay and crazy enemies, quite like the original.
All attempts to reboot the series failed, and Turok’s legacy is forever tarnished. As a fan, someone who grew up with the original game, I’d rather have Turok remain a pleasant memory rather than a next generation flop. My one with for the franchise is for it to end.
Have you played or even heard of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter? What other games can you think of that have inspired the weapons, armor, and equipment from contemporary titles?
Editor’s Note: It has been very difficult to find good screenshots that exemplify the awesomeness of Turok 64. I hope I’ve described the many great facets of the game well enough despite the quality of the pictures.