Here's Turok 2 for Game Boy, the worst game for Thanksgiving

Don't think too carefully about the timing of this one.

You know, if I had stopped to consider the timing of this episode would put it going live right alongside Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., I probably would have shuffled the scheduling a bit. The timing of this video with the holiday leaves a lot to be unpacked. It's a violent game about a Native American warrior, developed by a European company for a sketchy U.S.-based publisher, timed to the celebration of the bounty of the land a bunch of Europeans took from its indigeneous people through violence. Not exactly a cornucopia of 8-bit delight!

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans, here's a game to remind you smallpox blankets and genocide!

OK, well maybe it's not quite that dark. But even so, it's a little uncomfortable if you care to interrogate the visuals here. Which you should! It's good to be a savvy, historically conscious media consumer.

That said—Turok 2 for Game Boy Color is weirdly better than it has any right to be. It's a loose adaptation of an N64 first-person shooter, crammed down to work on 8-bit hardware. It's by an esoteric European studio. This is not (as historically concious 8-bit media consumers are aware) a formula for quality. And yet, Turok 2 works pretty well.

The first level, alas, is absolutely dreadful. Just a joyless mess. But then it turns into a different game entirely, and that game is pretty good! Aside from the sparse checkpoints and lousy multi-format extra modes. Turok 2 takes the game design elements that have come to be known among console fans as "Eurojank" and wrestles them into something more akin to an above-average Japanese NES game. It turns out the difference between a good European-developed 8-bit console action game and a bad one is simply focus, of wrangling those big bold design ambitions under control. And then giving a bangin' trip-hop chiptune soundtrack.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend you go out of your way to play Turok 2 on any platform. But it's always nice when something turns out better than it has to be. I mean, the publisher on this was Acclaim. It could have been a lot worse. Happy Thanksgiving?