Saturday morning cartoons were once a staple of every young child in the early nineties, and along with the cartoons came lunch boxes, straight to video movies, and more importantly, videogames. One such videogame following America’s favorite fighting turtles was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Arcade Game. A hit in the arcade along with great sales on the console market brought more turtles to every kid’s living room. Now after a long binge without the furious foursome, Konami answers everyone’s prayers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The game uses the increasingly popular cell-shaded graphics to bring these characters back to life. The graphics, in short, are very crisp, clear, and sharp. Going with the cartoon feel, the graphics fit each of the characters like a glove. Whenever you hit someone on the screen, you'll see words like “Bash!”, “Thok!”, and so on, basically reflecting the attack you've just executed and making the whole comics/cartoon situation more believable (you can turn this effect off from the options menu though). I really can’t explain how beautiful the game looks; imagine the Turtles Arcade game from so long ago with a face lift worthy of Cher.
The maps found in the game are mapped as one would expect. Simple levels, with basic details; this isn’t a graphic intensive shooter, this is a “fun, pick up and go game” and the graphics feel right at home. The character animations are dead on, from Leonardo swinging his double swords to the mousers trying to chomp down on one of the Turtles. The character design of course is very repetitive, from the street punks to the foot soldiers, the characters' skins are very simple, and very limited in variance, but it is just like the TV show.
The PC version obviously features improved (even if not by much), compared to the console versions of the game graphics. And although there's not too many options available to choose from the game's menu, manually turning FAA through on will help you avoid the jaggies one might've noticed in the console versions of the game. Overall, the graphics in the game are probably one of its best aspects. Keeping true to the simple concept of arcade gaming, the visuals are light and easy one the eyes. Shading and character design are top notch, and anything that didn’t need to look amazing doesn’t, because, well like a cartoon, its just there to take up space.
When I first started the game up, the first thing that popped in my head was the melody of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Unfortunately that’s gone and replaced by the new “hipper” Turtle song played in the all new cartoon; it's not Konami’s fault at all, just disappointing for me as a Turtles' fan. However, what is Konami’s fault is the lack of creative gameplay sounds. And memorizing the eight one-liners that the Turtles (two per Turtle) use isn’t a difficult task, since they say them every fifth or sixth hit.
The music that hums along while you beat the baddies is pretty decent. It is basically just your average arcade music, which after a while gets a little repetitive, but it provides one more reason to get through the level as fast as possible.
A positive mark on the sound side however is the use of grunts and groans when enemies, or you, get hit. When you hit cars with your weapons it makes clanking sounds and a huge “clang” appears on the screen; think Batman when Adam West starred in it.
Don’t get me wrong; aside from the repetitive one-liners from the Turtles, the sound is top notch. Not one of the best features, but up there with other side-scrolling arcade games. Most importantly, at least the sound is consistent throughout the game.
Creating a computer game with the look and feel of an arcade game and escape the dangers of repetitive game play is a very difficult task. Unfortunately Konami wasn’t able to escape this problem. The game takes place where you would normally find the turtles, sewers, city streets, laboratories, and junkyards. Each level follows the same basic plan, go from point A to point B and kill any enemy that spawns around you along the way. Attacking the onslaught of enemies comes in the form of two main buttons, one quick, light damage attack and a stronger slower attack. Eventually jump kicks are learned, but those aren’t as effective as just slamming the quick attack button as much as possible. Throwing stars make a small appearance in the game, used to hit enemies from afar if you want to take longer to beat the level or if you want to make the random explosive barrels go off from a distance. Finally you can make dashes on your enemies, and there are some special attacks that can be unlocked later on. Obviously this is a console port, hence using the keyboard to control your movements might be really discouraging at times – having a controller is strongly recommended if you want to enjoy this game.
The linear game play eventually becomes taxing on your patience, as you waste enemies left and right, waiting for the flashing “Go” arrow to appear so you know you can go to the next area to do the exact same thing. The enemies' AI really doesn't shine, and the game is overall very easy – unless you're surrounded by a large number of enemies that decide to attack you all at once.
The addition of multiplayer was a great concept, but poorly executed. The game only supports 2 players on one computer at a time. Co-op and competitive modes are available. The only thing that comes out of multiplayer however the game ends faster, and you go through twice as much blister cream. Although the VS mode is an interesting concept, as it allowed you to play not only with the Turtles, but choose one of their enemies to play with instead.
Porting a game that belongs in an arcade to consoles and then to computers is always a difficult task, and can sometimes be overwhelming. The ease of the game and lack of difficulty make the game too easy for some gamers, but also makes it a great game to just pick up and play. Had Konami added support for Internet play, more players, and more attacks, this could've been a great hit in Turtle history.
Wrapping this thing up, to put it bluntly, Konami took this turtle out of its shell too soon. Had they waited and taken more time with it, it would have been a much better presented game. The visuals were nice looking; unfortunately the rest of the game couldn’t stay up to par with the standard that they set. Available for around $20, I'd recommend this game to any major shell heads out there and to someone who misses the ease of button-mashing arcade side-scrollers, other then that, leave this bad boy on the shelves.