Pirated Childhood

Very few people here in the States experienced the wonderful yet intriguing world of piracy and that’s due to the fact that companies were on top of each other for copyrights of certain games and what not. Well, where I’m from (Peru) there was no such thing and piracy was as abundant as there could be anywhere in the world. I found myself introduced to the Famicom which over there had various names such as Max Play or Micro Genius. These consoles would come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most of the mimicking the toaster NES console or the Famicom. I personally loved the Famiclones which would bring lots of mysterious games built in or even with a board inside of them. Sadly, I never bought any of them until recent years, I was one of the lucky ones that had the original NES console while everyone else had their awesome looking Famiclones and NESclones.

Why me?? It wasn’t that bad I guess since there were a lot of kick ass games for the original console like the Mario Brothers and Ninja Turtles (Yes, I like the first ones as well and beat that game when I was six years old!). Furthermore, I was one of the lucky ones to be introduced to the most obscure titles during the NES era.

See, there were these game lobbies where you would pay around $0.30 cents to play video games on any console you wanted for an hour. How great was that huh? But wait, it gets better! The games themselves were mostly pirated and the popular originals. Some pirate titles I came across that were engraved in my brain for years to come. One of these wonderful titles was the pirated version of TMNT 2: The Arcade Game. This game’s label art was so wacky I couldn’t ignore it. Below is a photo of what I’m talking about!

tmnt 2 pirated game
tmnt 2 pirated game

Now isn’t this something? I will never forget these turtles, that’s for sure! Not only do they all wear shades but one of them has a shield! It’s funny though, once I found them on eBay to purchase I would keep getting flashbacks of all the memories I had with this game. I bought not one nor two nor three but four copies of this game! The good thing about pirates is that they release this game with different colored pirates (gotta collect them all!). Playing the game with my Famicom sure brings back a lot of memories and joyful occasions. I even remember one time I was playing this game at the lobby and my mom came to pick me up, she wouldn’t let me finish the game and dragged me away from it and all I could hear was Donatello getting the beating of his circuit life while the ice level soundtrack was playing in the background… That memory still comes back to me every time I play that ice level (This “new” level sure made the game longer unlike the original arcade version).

There is another game that marked my childhood with cherished memories. Many of you never heard of it until the rom was available online and hopefully it’ll get well known for being one of the most strangest but correctly made Mario hacks ever! Behold, Mario 8!

Super Bros 8 for famicom
Super Bros 8 for famicom

This game was the entire reason why I went to the lobby every time I could. This game took me out my seat and brought me to a gaming world I have never experienced, and back. The so called Super Bros 8 is actually a hack of Don Doko Don 2 released by Taito. The whole game fits well for it to be a potential Mario title (if you ignore the storyline that is). You play as Mario holding a hammer and stomping evil looking mushrooms (sounds Mario-like?), as well as other creatures along your way including pigs! I think with some hacking by Nintendo, this could have been the better Mario 2 option rather than stealing Doki Doki Panic. I had to find this game when I had the chance and I did. I currently own two copies of it as well as a copy that’s unhacked for some reason. Once I got my hands on this game two years ago, I couldn’t stop playing it. I even had a Mario 8 marathon once where I beat the game five times in a row. I believe I have beaten this game over fifty times now and it never bores me.

I hope this was an enjoyable article for many of you interested in the obscureness of retro gaming… really you can’t get any more obscure than this! As a matter of fact, there are still many titles I can mention but it’ll have to be some other time. Until next time!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Title Screen

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)
By: Konami Genre: Fighting Players: 1-4 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: NES, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, C64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: Xbox 360 Live Arcade

I was in my early teens around the time the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles phenomenon hit the world and it confused me. Ninjas are cool, sure, everyone knows that. But ninja turtles? I thought they were stupid. Turtles can’t even hold any weapons, they have flippers! I couldn’t stand how popular they were. Even my best mate, Luke, liked them! Oh well, they were engrained into popular culture, there was nothing I could do about it. Of course, various games based on their exploits followed. Some were good, others weren’t. As I remember it, the most popular one was the arcade offering from Konami, but it wasn’t until a recent Luke visit that I actually played this game for the first time ever. Did it suck as much as the stupid characters it was based on, or was it actually half decent?

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

The story is pretty much the same as every other scrolling fighter – someone gets kidnapped, you (and possibly a friend) have to rescue them. In this case, villianous master ninja, Shredder, leader of the nefarious Foot Clan… umm… clan, has kidnapped buxom news reporter and friend to the Turtles, April. Just for good measure they then also kidnap the Turtles rat sensei, Splinter. It’s then up to you to battle through the Foot Clan’s ranks and rescue April and Splinter before they do questionable things to them. First step: choose a turtle to play as. Their leader, Leonardo, is armed with two Katana swords, Michelangelo uses nunchaku’s, Donatello is equipped with a bo staff, and Raphael makes use of a pair of sai’s. Each of the Turtles has slightly differing attributes such as speed, reach of weapon, etc.

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

The Foot Clan themselves comprise a majority of the Turtles’ enemies through the game. They all look the same aside from the colour of their hoods and trousers, with the colour denoting their method of attack. Some of them carry big hammers, some of them throw dynamite, some can grab you from behind, others just punch and kick. They are joined on the odd occasion by robots. Having never really watched the TMNT show, I can’t really say if robots featured in it, but there’s a few of them here and they’re generally a mere nuisance rather than being formidable opponents, although some of them do possess the ability to hit you with an electric whip! The various bosses are taken from the show however, and include Bebop and Rocksteady (an agressive pig and rhino respectively), Dr Baxter Stockman (a mad scientist type), Lieutenant Granitor, General Traag, Krang (a small alien with a bumbling humanoid suit), and Shredder himself.

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

There are five stages, or scenes, to battle through here, covering such ground as an office block, city streets, sewers, and of course the Technodrome itself (the base of Krang and Shredder). Some of the stages are also split into several sections each too, and the Turtles even face a fast-scrolling section on skateboards at one point, taking on similarly equipped Foot Clan hoodlums and even missile-launching helicoptor gunships! There’s a pretty nice variety between the stages, graphically speaking, and there’s some decent static cut scenes between stages too. As mentioned earlier, a large percentage of the enemy sprites look the same except for differences in colour, and the animation on all sprites is fairly unremarkable, but it’s certainly not a horrible game to look at by any means. As far as the audio is concerned, I personally found it pretty annoying, what with the Turtles theme tune featuring prominently in different forms and various catchphrases from the show, but I’m sure it would be appreciated by fans.

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

The only problem this game has really is one that is so common within the genre – a lack of offensive moves. There is just an attack and jump button here which kind of limits how many manoeuvres you can perform, although you can press them both together for a (pretty unspectacular) special move. As mentioned though, there’s not many scrolling fighters that do have a sizeable roster of moves so it’s not too much of a problem, and the game does have an ace up its sleeve though – simultaneous four-player action! I guess it would be weird to create a games based on a team of four and not allow them to fight together, so kudos to Konami for incorporating it. I haven’t personally played the game in four-player mode but I can imagine, whilst being a bit chaotic and cluttered, it’s probably a truckload of fun too.

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

So, given my dislike of the subject matter, it’s a little annoying to find that this is a pretty decent quality scrolling fighter, and that in itself makes it a precious commodity, especially when you take into account the four-player mayhem it offers! It has its faults, and I’m sure fans will enjoy it more than I did, but it’s a solidly playable effort – entertaining in short bursts for a solo player, great fun with multiple players.

RKS Score: 7/10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade machine
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade machine

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

It’s the summer of 1989 and if you are an old fart like me you were totally into the TMNT cartoon that began airing a few years earlier. One day I stepped into my favorite arcade and there in the premiere section was the awesome full-sized, four-player game. I remember the first thing I heard was the theme song straight from the cartoon in perfect stereo sound.

Even if you aren’t in your thirties like me chances are you saw the TMNT game in your local arcade because it had a long and successful run. There were two versions, the four-player one and the two-player version. With both you could pick from the four famous turtles, but with the four-player one you could play as the full team.

TMNT was the epitome of beat-em-up games, your goal was simple, beat the Shredder and Krang and take out the Tecnodrome. However, the game starts out with April, the yellow jump suited lady friend of the team being kidnapped and you having to save her.

TMNT arcade screenshot
TMNT arcade screenshot

You start off in a burning building fighting foot soldiers which came in a variety of colors and flavors spouting all types of different weapons from guns, to swords to sonic fans. The idea was to overwhelm you as the foot would try to flank and surround you to attack from all sides.

One of the cool things about the game was you could use the environment to your advantage. You could hit street signs and coin meters to send them flying at the foot. There were also cans that if hit wouldsmoke and then explode. You could also throw some bad guys again the wall where they would smack into it and slowly slide down. The bad news was all this could be done to you as well.

TMNT arcade game box
TMNT arcade game box

In the game you had the choice the four turtles which each had their own unique traits. Donatello had a long range but a slower attack, Raphael and Michelangelo were very fast, but had a short reach and the leader Leonardo was pretty balanced between speed and range.

As for controls it was pretty easy which was good because this was a button mashing boot-camp of a game. You had only two buttons jump and attack, but you could press jump and attack together to do a special move be it a jumping swing attack or like with Raphael a rolling attack. You could also throw the foot over head and if attacking a foot in front of you and another snuck up from behind you could pull of a quick back attack to send them flying.

Back to level one, after making your way through the building and avoiding things like the falling bolder down the stairs and those awful robots, you find April cowering in a room sounded by the foot. After taking out the foot a drill capsule comes up from the ground and Rocksteady, the mutant rhino, attacks. He isn’t too hard to beat with his machine gun and slow kicks, but after you do the Shredder appears to steal April away from you once again.

You continue on into the streets fighting more foot and come across the only way besides beating the level to replenish your health, pizza. Soon after your snack you face Bebop, the mutant warthog which I always found harder with his sonic pulse gun and charge attack. I also found myself falling in the sewer which by the way took a bar of health.

With Bebop down you move to the sewers, but this familiar territory is filled with more foot and biting robots provided by Baxter Stockman who you fight as the levels boss. Then it’s back topside for another street level and then the rematch where you fight Bebop and Rocksteady together. This fight can be tough, but you if you keep your distance and use quick attacks it’s not too bad. Also you can separate them and when you both charge you jump and watch them crash into each other.

With April safe it’s time for revenge which takes you toward the Tecnodrome. On the way you fight a horde of foot soldiers and rocket across the streets in a jet powered skateboard before the turtle van cashes and you find your master, Splinter being carried away.

To get Splinter back you face one of the cheapest bosses in the game, at least in my opinion. The first stone warrior you come across can easily cost you several rolls of quarters. Not only can he trap you in the corner and repeatedly knock you down, but he also can turn your face to toast with his flamethrower. Did I also mention he has a ton of hit points? After you finally lay the smack-down on him you rescue splinter and then it’s off to kick some Tecnodrome ass.

As expected the Tencodrome is packed full with foot soldiers and tons of traps like lasers, freeze rays, robots oh and another cheap stone warrior. However, this stone warrior isn’t half as bad and even though he is sporting a rocket launches he is easily defeatable. Now it’s just you and the two final bosses.

Khang the pink brain of the team comes out from behind an energy screen in his makeshift body firing lasers from its eyes and kicking you if you get close. Stick and move is the key to this fight and soon his robot body will be scrap, but as Khang exclaims while he flies away; “I’m invincible!”

Finally its Shredder time! Shredder is a master swordsman so his sword attacks are fast and deadly. He also has powerful kicked that can send you flying out of your shell. To add to this he can also split into two creating a clone of himself that is just as powerful. Finally he has his mutant ray that can turn you back into a normal turtle effectively one shotting you.

I’ve found the key is to keep them together and take em both out. Soon both their helmets come off and the fight is over. The Tecnodrome is destroyed and you are left to wonder if you will see Krang and the Shredder again, the answer is yes.

TMNT is one of those arcade games that is still fun to play today. It was released for many consoles including the NES though for the NES it was called TMNT 2 because the first TMNT game was god awful and I will not speak on it. If you want to know about it check out this video from the Angry Video Game Nerd.

If you are felling nostalgic you can get TMNT the arcade came on X-box live. Trust me, if you haven’t played this game you need to. TMNT is truly a classic; it had everything a gamer could want. Pure fun, pure excitement, pure turtle power!