Atari 2600

Review by Rob "Dire 51"

20th Cent Fox


Graphics: 8

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9

tur·moil (tūrmoil) n. A state of extreme confusion or agitation; commotion or tumult

The guys at 20th Century Fox Games couldn't have picked a better title for this game. Turmoil is one of the fastest, most tumultuous games you will ever play, even to this day. There is no story to speak of, and truth be told, a story really isn't necessary. Turmoil is a game of relexes and hand-eye coordination, and most importantly, a game where your primary goal is to shoot anything that moves.

You control the ship in the middle of the screen. The box calls it an "intergalactic fighter", but it could be any kind of craft. You manuever up and down in the alleyway in the center of the screen. On both the left and the right are seven tunnels. As you start the game, the tunnels are empty, but not for long. Soon a plethora of bizarre alien vehicles will begin to emerge from the far ends of the tunnels. Your mission: destroy them all!

Every so often, a white arrow will emerge from one of the tunnels. You must destroy it immediately, because should it be allowed to cross the screen, it will transform into a tank. The tanks cannot be destroyed unless you are able to blast them from behind. Shooting a tank from the front will only push it back a little - and they do fire back, so watch out. The other alien craft move at varying speeds, and the faster they are, the more points you get for shooting them.

From the start, you are limited to moving up and down in the center alley. However, from time to time a Prize will appear at the end of one of the tunnels. You must dart down the tunnel and grab it quickly. If you don't, the Prize will turn into a Supersonic Cannon Ball, which will bounce from one end of the tunnel to the other at an incredibly high rate of speed. Destroy the Supersonic Cannon Ball or risk losing a ship to it.

Should you get the Prize before it transforms into a Supersonic Cannon Ball, an indestructible Ghost Ship will appear from the oposite end of the tunnel and head straight for you. You have to get back to the center alley and get out of its way before it destroys you. Should you sit in one spot for an extended period of time, the Ghost Ship will come out, so try to keep moving.

Now if all of these things only came out one at a time, the game wouldn't be so hard. However, after a few seconds the screen will be full of alien vehicles darting this way and that way. Multiple Prizes will appear, and you must try to grab them as quickly as possible. On top of that, several of the boards are invisible, so all you can see are the alien vehicles and Prizes. Luckily, you do have rapid fire available to you - just hold the button down and go! You can also pause the game by pressing the color/b&w switch, which is somewhat of a novelty when it comes to VCS titles.

The graphics are quite good. The alien vehicles, Prizes, and Supersonic Cannon Balls are all imaginatively designed, and they animate quite nicely. There is very little music (just a little ditty that plays at the beginning of each round), and the sound effects consist mostly of cannon fire, the bouncing noise of the Supersonic Cannon Balls, and various sounds emitted by the alien vehicles, as well as a sound that heralds the arrival of the Ghost Ship. Turmoil would be a mess if it didn't have good controls, so luckily it does. The ship is extremely responsive to your commands (move the ship with the stick and press the button to fire), and if you plug a Sega Genesis controller into port one, you'll find that it increases the ability to control your ship, much like in the games Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi: Death Star Battle (and a lot of other VCS games, to tell you the truth).

Turmoil is quite a frenetic game. It seems to be the prototype for the so-called "manic SHMUPS" that have surfaced in the past few years (think of a SHMUP where you have a lone ship and are besieged by a never-ending stream of bullets - look up the Sega Dreamcast titles Mars Matrix and Giga Wing to see exactly what I'm talking about). There are many proto-SHMUPS on the VCS, and Turmoil is one of the best of them. If you like a lot of fast action and enjoy blasting everything in your path to hell and back, then give it a shot. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Sunday, October 31, 2004 12:20 PM