Friday, 20 December 2013

Turrican - the music!

Anybody of a certain age will remember the Commodore Amiga computer with a certain fondness. In the late 80s and early 90s, it was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, and the home computer to have. It offered sound - in stereo. And hundreds of colours. You could even upgrade the RAM to a whopping megabyte!

But thanks to the Amiga's superior graphics and audio capabilities, with it came a plethora of outstanding games. As a teenager of the early 90s, I spent many days huddled in the corner of the lounge, plugged into my Amiga, whether it was my early forays into digital art and music production, or hours spent gaming.

Out of all the hundreds of amazing games, one clear favourite would emerge for me, and that was the action-packed platform adventure, Turrican, originally published by Rainbow Arts in 1990. My friend Tony had gone on about this Turrican game for ages, and when my 13th Birthday came, along with it, came Turrican, in his chunky silver robo-armour.

Not only did the game take you through another word on an exciting and explosive journey, but it had the best computer game music I had ever heard - composed by the mysterious Chris Hüelsbeck (in the following years, Hüelsbeck's fantastic music would accompany many a great classic game). Over time I became as addicted to the music in the game, as I did the game itself - to the point where I'd stick a tape recorder in front of the TV speaker and record the music to listen to, when I wasn't lost in the world of Turrican.

In 1992 and 1993, we had two more Turrican games, both with fantastic music, but it was always the original game's soundtrack that both stuck with me and would ultimately inspire my own music.

While the Amiga is (very sadly) long gone, Turrican has lived on through various games and of course, its fans, whom like myself, have maintained a certain adoration of Hüelsbeck's music. Therefore it came as a pleasant surprise in 2012 when, due to popular demand, Chris Hüelsbeck announced a Kickstarter campaign with the plan of re-recording all the Turrican music into one big anthology.

The campaign was a huge success, and as a result, we now have a lot of very happy Turrican fans, myself included! The anthology has its own website, and each volume of the anthology is now available on Bandcamp as a digital download.

Not only do we have fantastic and faithfully recreated artwork, but we have all the music, bigger and better than ever and still sounding as fresh and exciting as when I first heard it 23 years ago.  I've spent the last couple of weeks reliving memories of being lost in the Turrican worlds for hours on end. The soundtrack to every level, the end-of-level boss musics, game loader tunes, the intro and outtro - they're all here, and more. And it's brilliant.

The Turrican games boasted a level of creativity and perfect playability that most other platform games could only dream of, but I'm sure that the soundtrack was integral to the game's success. It certainly wouldn't have been quite the same without it. Chris Hüelsbeck first issued a selection of updated recordings of the music on CD in the mid-90s – while finding video game soundtracks on CD is fairly commonplace nowadays, back then it was almost unheard of, which says something about the demand for both his work and this game. So it's really fantastic that all this time later, we can enjoy the music all over again.

I dare say you do need to be a fan of the game to appreciate this kind of music, but for us fans, it holds a very special place indeed. Great job, Chris!


  1. How can I follow your blog? I can not find a button for it.

  2. Hi Peter - I don't know!! There used to be a subscribe/follow button on the blogs, but it seems to have gone. Not sure what Google are doing there...

    That said, I don't blog that often... you can always follow me on Facebook or Twitter and of course my own site:

    But I'm enjoying the Turrican Anthology so much, I had to write about it :)

  3. ...maybe if you click on the "followers" tab (grey box to the top-right) and "join this site" it might subscribe you. What's wrong with a simple 'follow' button, I don't know!

  4. Thanks for the advice.
    I think I will take the blog just in my "Feedly" account. Then I can also follow via mobile phone via "gReader" him.