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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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