Published on August 26th, 2012 | by CB0
Ha! I Made ANOTHER Funny! Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time
First of all, it’s great to be back on writing for thoseguys.tv! After a small hiatus due to business, I’m ready to start reviewing more games, so keep checking for CB reviews in the future. Thank you!
When I was young, I lived in a neighborhood filled with kids, and we would all hang out and generally like the same kinds of things, including video games. It was through my childhood friends that I discovered some of my all-time favorite titles such as Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and the Mega Man series. In addition to games, we would all favor the same sorts of TV shows, and when I was about 4 or 5, I was introduced to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles through my cousins, and despite the ridiculous concept, I was hooked on it. My brother and two friends also took a liking to it, and the four of us always had a lot of fun talking about this strange series and our favorite turtle (mine was always Raphael). So when we found out that our friend’s brother had a video game based on the Turtles for the Super Nintendo, we were stoked and took it to my house to play… And it only got better from there.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time is a side scrolling beat em up made by Konami, and was originally an arcade game. In 1992, the game was ported to the Super Nintendo with some minor changes based off of the old cartoon series and movies. A sequel to the original TMNT arcade game, Turtles in Time is often considered one of the greatest beat ‘em ups ever made due to its deep combat, great cooperative play and overall polish. It is also recognized for being one of the few arcade ports to be considered better than the original cabinet version, albeit a lack of four player co-op. But can this Super Nintendo classic really live up to the reputation that it’s been given over the years? Short answer: definitely. Long answer: read on. So, Turtles in Time begins with news reporter April O’Neil doing a report when series villains Shredder and Krang arrive on the scene and steal away the Statue of Liberty. Shredder then contacts the eponymous turtles and their rat master Splinter through their TV and taunts them into coming after him: thus, the game begins in the Big Apple, at 3 AM. Now, this probably does not make much sense to a player who wasn’t/isn’t a TMNT fan, and it isn’t a very deep story either. However, in this case, it’s easy to forgive these things: the plot is not very relevant to the game at all, and in my opinion, the game can serve as a good way for TMNT fans to introduce their friends to the series. However, knowing the franchise will definitely add an extra edge of enjoyment for players.
From here, up to two players can take control of Leonardo (Leo), Michelangelo (Mike), Donatello (Don), or Raphael (Raph). Like many beat ‘em ups, each turtle comes with their own strengths and weaknesses: Leo is well balanced but has some awkward katana combos; Mike has great stats all around but wields a slow, short ranged nunchaku; Donatello is very strong and has a long ranged bo but is the slowest runner; and Raph is very fast and has great combo potential, but has a weak, short ranged sai and little HP. Players can hold their own adequately as any turtle with enough practice, but the game becomes easier as well as more fun when a friend is playing with you (more on that later).
As the turtles, players will fight their way through stages that fans of the brand will find familiar. New York City, the sewers and the Technodrome all make an appearance early on in the game: After the fourth level, however, Shredder sends the players into a time warp which will take them through prehistoric times, the Golden Age of Piracy (no, I don’t mean the internet), the old west, and the distant future before returning them to the Technodrome for the final battle. Along the way, players will fight off the Foot Clan as well as other minor baddies from the show, such as the mousers. Series villains make appearances as the games bosses, such as Baxter Stockman, Metalhead, Rat King, and even Tokka and Rahzar from the second TMNT movie. In addition, many villains make appearances in clothes from the given time period: Bebop and Rocksteady become pirates; Leatherhead appears as a cowboy; and, of course, Super Krang shows up in the distant future levels. Stages are well designed and often have small gimmicks, whether it is sewers to fall into or surfing in a sewer. All and all, the levels are well designed and are really a treat for any fan of the series.
The graphics are a bit downgraded from their original arcade form, but still fit the tone of the game very well. Characters resemble their cartoon counterparts and have a fun range of sprites that provide for some neat character depth, especially with the turtles. Overall, this game can be used as a nice example of good game feel: Although it is hard to be truly “immersed” in a beat ‘em up, the graphics definitely give the game personality and will make fans feel as if they were playing an episode of the show. The game also uses some cool little Mode 7 effects to spice up a few parts, such as in the time travelling scenes or in the Neon Night-Riders level. The music has also been downgraded a bit, but is still incredibly catchy nonetheless. A few of the tracks are very memorable, specifically Big Apple, 3AM and the infamous Sewer Surfin’, but the other tracks also serve as enjoyable backdrops to a Ninja Turtle fight, both in the “present” and time travelling stages. While it all does show some signs of age, it is in a good, nostalgic way.
The game play is near masterful in Turtles in Time. Often it is quite hard to find a beat ‘em up that strays past basic punching and kicking, and when the genre does stray away from the basics, it usually involves some sort of leveling up, like in Scott Pilgrim VS. The World or a way to earn new moves, like in Double Dragon: but not in this game. Turtles in Time starts players off with all the moves, and the ability to make combat as basic or complex as they wish. What is meant by this? Well, new players can simply jam on the buttons and execute basic combos and throws with ease, but eventually, with enough practice, players can find ways to easily dispose of enemies by using more complex moves, such as air strikes, dashing strikes, and special moves. For example, Baxter Stockman is a boss that can shoot while flying or while walking: beginners will find that they can take down Stockman adequately by just waiting for him to come down before wailing on him, but experienced players will find ways to take him down in a minute through air combos. It is very hard to explain how deep the battle system is through text, so here’s some gameplay in action. The point is, both newer and advanced players alike will find themselves enjoying the deep battle system with relative ease, making it an enjoyable play for all and one of the best brawlers out there.
On the subject of game play, this review would not be complete without an overview of the excellent cooperative play, which is by far the best part of the game. To test how enjoyable the game was, I brought in a friend who had never played the game nor had been a big TMNT fan as a kid. With him and me playing as Raphael and Donatello in the beginning and Michelangelo and Leonardo near the end, we were able to beat the game in about half an hour. Overall, my friend said that the experience was fun for him and that it was overall a good game with great co-op. I personally enjoyed letting him know about the series as we played through and although I may have been an ear full at times, I think it provided a satisfying experience for both a new and old player. In addition, after the friend switched over to Michelangelo in the second half of the game, I saw that he was trying more complex combos and was really getting the hang of playing. All of this proves how great the game’s cooperative play is, and how well-crafted the game I overall: it provided a good gaming session for both of us and allowed my friend to become better at the game in the very same session. That’s what I consider a good cooperative game: a game that anyone can pick up at any time and play with anyone and grow together as players, whether they’ve never played or are a veteran.
13 years later, I can still pick up a copy of TMNT IV: Turtles in Time and have a good time with it. The gameplay is excellent, the co-op is stellar, and it really puts the source material to great use. Picking up a copy of this game may cost about 30 to 40 dollars, but the price should not be discouraging to anyone interested. For fans of TMNT and for beat ‘em up enthusiasts, this is a must play game as it is one of the finest specimens in both categories. So go ahead, take a nostalgia trip back to the sewers of New York and give the heroes in a half shell another go.