Monday, April 27, 2015

Video Game Maps: Turok, Dinosaur Hunter

When Turok the Dinosaur Hunter came out, there really weren't very many first person shooters (FPS) available for consoles.  And, compared to today, there weren't very many FPS in existence.  Turok was the first in the genre to be released for the Nintendo 64.  It featured over-the-top violence, combat vs dinosaurs and really cool weapons.  However, I think the most important feature, and most innovative, was the map overlay.  

Unlike other common map features, which might require you to pause the game and bring up a subscreen, or be confined to a circle in the corner of the screen, Turok's map was drawn over the screen while you played.  The small arrow representing the player was located in the center of the screen, and could also perform the role of an aiming reticle.    

Oddly enough, the method never seemed to take, and I don't know of any games outside the Turok series that used this map style since.  I really love this map.  When I play Turok, I find a really cool mental zone where I'm watching the scenery and watching the map at the same time.  It's almost like playing two games simultaneously, and it's really cool.  

It helps that Turok is full of wide open spaces not too many enemies. When I get into that meditative zone, it doesn't seem to take that long to traverse the enormous levels.


  1. Yeah, it's a useful feature isn't it. I know Star Wars: Dark Forces had it. I think Jedi Knight may have had it too, but those are the only games I can think of.

  2. I imagine this function didn't take because too many people found it distracting, trying to watch two things going on the screen at once. I agree though that once the map turned on, I never turned it off. the Arrow I too used for aiming and it became necessary when jumping to platforms so you didn't have to be constantly looking down.

    I also use the overlay in Star Wars: Dark Forces, although I don't recall using the "arrow" for aiming, or maybe I just don't realize that I'm doing it; something to think about next time I give the Imperial Research Facility a try. . .stupid Imperials.

    Something similar is what "Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey" on the DS does, which is have a map on the bottom screen while you move through mazes on the top screen. More than half of the time I find myself just watching the bottom map screen and not paying attention to the top screen with all its pretty pictures. It's a different type of game though (RPG dungeon crawler vs FPS dinosaur hunter).

    Something I think that I would be perfectly fine with playing a game that was just the overlay, all vector-lined and all. The enemies could be Xs and your bullets could be single pixels. . . or I could just go and play "Asteroids."

    And now I want to play Turok. . .or at least find a decent copy of it for the N64.

  3. I totally agree about a vector version of the game. would be a pretty sweet mini game easter egg! I've never played Dark Forces, but I'm curious.

    I forgot to mention the platforming! In Turok, there is kind of a lot of platforming, and it is basically impossible without the map. Okay, not impossible, but so frustrating that I would quit the game (it's plenty tough even using the map, and that game has some pretty harsh consequences sometimes).