It’s time to head into the jungle and find out which dinosaur hunting games should be resurrected and which should remain extinct – as we check out the best Turok games of all time!
Though Turok has been around since the 1950s – when he first appeared in comic books by Western Publishing/Dell Comics – it was the 1997 Nintendo 64 first person shooter that brought the character kicking and screaming to a much wider audience than he’d ever been exposed to before.
Turok is a mantle, passed down to worthy members of various Native American tribes and families, with each hero generally trying to survive the dinosaur-infested Lost Lands (though this has been altered at times, both in the original stories and the games themselves!).
Over the last 25 years, there have been numerous sequels and reboots to the first N64 game – but which are the best ones?
Let’s find out as we check out the best Turok games of all time!
11. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil (Game Boy Color, 1998)
What on earth went wrong here? Developers Bit Managers were also responsible for the first Turok game on the Game Boy, which was a passable platform adventure game.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is an awful attempt to add new layers of gameplay via the Turok mythos – and doing so in a way that actively harms the experience when you first start.
You begin the game prior to having found an item which activates your ‘Turok’ abilities – meaning you wander the streets, being attacked randomly by bad guys disguised as humans; bizarrely, you have absolutely no way of fighting back.
Oh, and did I mention that the dinosaurs (sorry, dinosoids), in disguise as humans, look no different to any other human you pass on the street? The only clue you get is that they slightly accelerate as you get near them – by which point it’s next to impossible to avoid their attacks.
It’s a painfully terrible, confusing opening stage and doesn’t get much better, even after you get to some more standard levels that allow you to actually protect yourself with weapons.
They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression – and that’s certainly the case with this version of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, which couldn’t quite make the top 10 of the best Turok games!
10. Turok: Battle of the Bionosaurs (Game Boy, 1997)
The first Turok game on the Game Boy is actually not that bad, all things considered. A 2D platformer, its biggest issues are some overly finicky platforming stages, enemy placement that can border on unfair and some instant death drops from platforms that are a bit frustrating.
What Turok: Battle of the Bionosaurs does have over its awful sequel is great animation, a decent soundtrack and good variety in its stages and enemies. It’s just a shame that the level design itself is so poor; there’s the basis of a decent game here – it just doesn’t quite manage to get there.
Not a total disaster by any means, but certainly far from the best of the best when it comes to Turok games!
9. Turok (PC/PS3/Xbox 360, 2008)
What should have been a triumphant return for the Native American, dinosaur hunting hero was a massive disappointment upon release – and a planned sequel was canned, thanks to the underwhelming commercial and critical reception that greeted this first person shooter.
This incarnation of Turok is set in the far future – and sees our hero, Joseph Turok, crash landing on a planet populated with dinosaurs. Taking on both the dinosaurs and the enemy soldiers he and his colleagues were sent to apprehend, Turok can also employ stealth tactics as well as using enemy soldiers as bait to keep the dinosaurs busy.
Though that all sounds really promising, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a game that has a silly premise, but takes itself far too seriously – despite being a fairly accomplished game from a technical perspective in its day, the level design and general gameplay are underwhelming, to say the least.
8. Turok: Evolution (PS2/GameCube/Xbox, 2002)
Another disappointing first person shooter, this prequel to the original N64 game isn’t quite as big of a letdown as the 2008 reboot – but it’s not far off. Excellent sound design and – on the Xbox version at least – dynamic lighting (which was pretty impressive back in 2002) can’t save a deeply average game with a single player campaign that’s far too linear to be particularly notable.
Its saving grace is a four player splitscreen multiplayer mode, in which the inventive weapons and copious amounts of gore – both elements having become features that the series had by then become known for – make the game an absolute riot to play.
7. Turok: Rage Wars (Game Boy Color, 1999)
It’s third time lucky for the handheld Turok games, with this game in the series taking a more open approach to its gameplay.
It moves away from the 2D platforming and short side-scrolling beat ‘em up style sections of the previous two games, with levels that take place from a pseudo-top down perspective, sometimes with forced scrolling for a faster paced feel.
It works well; the visuals are clear and colourful – both Turok and his wide variety of enemies are well animated. Turok has access to an excellent selection of weapons to take down the bad guys and there’s even the option to mix weapons together and create crazy hybrids.
Genuinely inventive, technically excellent considering the limited hardware and really fun to play. What more could you ask for?
6. Turok: Rage Wars (N64, 1999)
The third game in the Turok series on N64, Turok: Rage Wars misses out on being the ‘official’ ‘number three’ game due to its lack of a proper single player campaign and ‘non-canon’ series status.
Yep, this one came at a time when multiplayer deathmatch games were all the rage (pun intended), thanks to the rise of titles such as Quake – and as such, it’s a truly competitive multiplayer-focused Turok game.
Up to four players can battle it out in various modes, including the hilarious Monkey Tag – in which one random player becomes a monkey for everyone else to hunt and shoot!
The single player mode is just a series of death matches against the AI, though there are bosses to defeat too. The gunplay itself is gory, fast-paced and satisfying, with a high-resolution mode (or at least, high resolution by the standards of 1999!) possible through use of the N64’s RAM Expansion Pak too.
Though there’s plenty of characters and items to unlock – as well as 50 medals to earn through playing the game – the lack of a single player story mode makes this title feel a bit limited; it’s definitely the weakest entry in the N64 game series, but still a blast to play in multiplayer.
5. Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion (Game Boy Color, 2000)
Though just a year before, the Game Boy Turok games hit their peak with Turok: Rage Wars, this fourth game (yes, it’s labelled as Turok 3 – thanks to the slightly confusing path that the N64 games took with their stories) actually ended up being even more enjoyable.
Taking a similar top-down viewpoint as in Turok: Rage Wars, the big improvement here is the use of vehicles – with the opening level seeing Turok taking bad guys down in a tank!
It really feels as if developers Bit Managers – responsible for all four of the Game Boy/Game Boy Color Turok games – really hit their stride with Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion.
The only sticking point is that it’s a very short and reasonably easy game – though after the sometimes unfair, poorly designed gameplay elements in the prior handheld Turok games, that isn’t such a bad thing!
4. Turok: Evolution (GBA, 2002)
Though Turok: Evolution wasn’t very good on full-sized consoles, this GBA version is actually a much better game.
Like a number of the handheld Turok games before this one, Turok: Evolution is a 2D side-scrolling affair. With the move from the aging Game Boy and Game Boy Color hardware to the Game Boy Advance, however, it’s a much more technically accomplished game – and a much better one too!
The visuals are fantastic – gloriously detailed and colourful pixel art that has aged really well – and the gameplay is excellent too.
It has a two player co-op mode – you’ll need to link two GBA consoles to take advantage of this – which partly negates Turok: Evolution’s biggest problem: it is punishingly difficult.
If you’re up to the challenge, there’s a lot to like here – it almost feels like Turok meets Metal Slug, with its fast-paced, relentless run and gun action.
It even finds space to fit in shooting gallery style levels for a bit of variety. Well worth tracking down and playing, but with no checkpoints or save states (though it does have a password system), you’ll definitely have a fight on your hands!
3. Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion (N64, 2000)
By the time this fourth Turok game arrived, the bar for first-person shooters on N64 had been forever raised by GoldenEye, but just a few months before the release of Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion, Perfect Dark had also joined the fray.
Which means that Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion struggled to find the audience and reception enjoyed by the previous games – and, with hindsight, it does seem to have been unfairly overlooked.
Though it didn’t have quite the same impact as Turok and Turok 2, Turok 3 is still a fine game in its own right – with an excellent story mode, a great soundtrack and a good selection of multiplayer options too.
2. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (N64, 1997)
One of the earliest Nintendo 64 titles, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was a critical and commercial success that really showed off the power of Nintendo’s then-new console. Despite a very short draw distance – resulting in a very foggy-looking, albeit beautifully animated, game – Turok’s gameplay shone very brightly indeed.
The unique modern day-meets-prehistory sci-fi setting gave Turok an aesthetic and feel that was unlike any other game at the time – and its gore was really unusual to see on a Nintendo-branded console. It wasn’t unusual for first person shooters at the time to take place in dark corridors (thanks Doom!), but Turok’s more open levels – along with the sometimes enormous, dinosaur enemies and the character’s climbing and swimming abilities – really did widen the potential of the genre.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a fondly remembered game – and a 2015 PC remaster (later released on PS4, Xbox One and Switch – check it out on our best retro games on Steam list too!) reveals a game that may look dated, but still has bags of charm and compelling gameplay to boot.
Its sometimes confusing level design and lack of helpful signposting may feel a little too old school at times, but Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is still a blast to play.
1. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil (N64, 1998)
Taking the top spot of our best Turok games list is the first N64 sequel: Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. One of the biggest criticisms of the first game was its draw distance, which was properly addressed in this title – with players now being able to see an awful lot further into the distance than they could in Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.
Much more than that though, enemy AI was upgraded and improved to make combat encounters thrillingly unpredictable and somewhat emergent – with enemies taking cover, popping up to throw explosives and trying to circle around Turok, rather than just running towards him.
Yet the best feature of the game – and one that people still remember Turok 2 for – is the selection of inventive, gory weaponry. The most famous and fondly remembered example is the Cerebral Bore which, as you can probably tell from its name, drills into the heads of your enemies in a hilariously graphic and bloody manner.
A RAM Expansion Pak-powered high-resolution mode and lots of multiplayer options round out the content on offer in Turok 2, which was also remastered for PCs – like its predecessor – in 2015 (as well as being brought to PS4, Xbox One and Switch).
With great gameplay, excellent audiovisual design, hilariously sadistic weapons and lots of local multiplayer options, it’s no wonder that Turok 2 sits proudly atop the best Turok games list!
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.