Yes that’s right, any US friends that might be reading. This is indeed the same game as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but us Brits got a bit uppity about the whole Ninja thing and so changed the name. What can you do?
Whatever you call it, i used to love the Turtles cartoon. Hitting screens in 1987, it became something of a phenomenon with kids of a certain age. With four marketable characters, memorable villains and that all important mix of light comedy and gentle violence, it was an inevitable smash hit, spawning a line of gaudy merchandise, two crappy films and a rather unfortunate Vanilla Ice cameo.
There were various games released too. I owned a version on the Amiga that I was awful at, a game I’ll come back to another day. But the arcade was graced with this side scrolling beat ’em up. That pesky Shredder has taken April O’Neil captive and its down to you (and up to three friends) to battle through the Foot Clan, locate the Technodrome and set her free.
If you have any experience of the genre then you know what to expect here. A game style that arguably reached a pinnacle with Final Fight, you move left to right, kicking the snot out of various levels of Clan goons. Each of the Turtles has a unique move set, Leonardo for instance able to utilise his swords whilst Michelangelo swings his nunchucks, speed of movement and range of attack differing depending on your choice. Whichever you opt for, prepare for a slug fest as enemies stream towards you in a relentless tide. Most are easy pickings, requiring little more than a couple of whacks to dispatch. For quicker takedowns, grab hold and throw them into a wall or against some of the destructible scenery, fire hydrants, cones and street signs all coming into play. There’s even an unexpected nod to our old friend Black Belt as dispensed enemy soldiers explode for some inexplicable reason.
Beyond the Clan rabble the series villains all make appearances. Bebop and Rocksteady act as end of level agitators whilst the final confrontation at the Technodrome means a showdown with both Krang and Shredder. Largely these fights are just annoying, each of the bosses taking an inordinate amount of hits to take down, those with firearms a double irritant as you keep getting shot out of the air as you launch an attack.
Take the licence away and this is pretty routine fair. It’s fine for what it is and graphically captures the look and feel of the tv show, the title music present and correct and the story told through a series of still images that could be plucked straight from the telly. There are nice incidental details too, like the pizza boxes that act as health packs and the sewer openings that you can accidentally fall down. There is some limited speech and it’s a shame that the original voice cast wasn’t used. And where the hell is Casey Jones?!
Limited, occasionally frustrating, but fun.