Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Aw, shell shock!"

First up, I've decided to cover one of my favorite games of all time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time.

Turtles in Time was released for the Super Nintendo by Konami in 1992. It's a pretty straight-forward side-scrolling beat-'em'-up in the same vein as Final Fight or Streets of Rage, only instead of controlling random no-names, you get to take your pick between the 4 heroes in half shells. Let's take a closer look at this piece of programmed gold.

Story: N/A

This is an important part of most newer games, but really, it's a TMNT game. Short story made shorter, Shredder is back to being a raging dickhole. He contracts Super Krang to come and hijack the Statue of Liberty as well as kidnapping April O'Neil, the turtles' bustiest human friend. It's up to the turtles to travel through varied environments and even time itself to save the day.

Graphics: 9/10

This is one area where the game shines. Sure, it may be from 1992, but this game looks damned good for being on a SNES. The turtles look exactly as they should, and so do the foot clan. Explosions abound in all their 16-bit glory. The one flaw with this game is that during high intensity sections, there's a noticeable lag. Nothing game breaking, sure, but it can detract from the overall arcade feel. That's made up for in the options, though: you have the option of standard graphics or comic book graphics. It's a minor aesthetic change, most noticeable in the color of the turtles, but fans of the original comics will be thoroughly satisfied to see the homage to the original medium.

Gameplay: 10/10

Here's the most important part of any game, and TMNT IV does not disappoint. It's an incredibly simple setup, but huge amounts of fun nonetheless. At the start, the player gets to pick between Leo, Mikey, Don, and Raph. Each turtle has their own strengths and weakness: Mikey is very slow but incredibly strong, Don has the longest reach but isn't particularly strong, Raph is the fastest but also has the shortest reach, and Leo is pretty well rounded. Once the turtle is selected, you get thrown directly into the first level. What follows is a series of running through a level, mercilessly destroying every foot clan soldier in sight until you reach the boss at the end. A new feature for this game versus the older TMNT games is a life bar for the bosses; no more slashing and whacking until the boss starts blinking.

The turtles have a fair few attacks at their disposal. Tapping the attack button will hit once. Jumping and hitting the attack button will kick downward at the enemy. Holding forward will run, and hitting attack while running will body check the enemy. Jumping and hitting the attack button repeatedly at the apex of the jump will cause your turtle to slowly head to the ground, swinging the whole way. Hitting an enemy and moving towards them and tapping the attack button again can have two results: first, they can be picked up by the wrist and slammed back and forth repeatedly, killing them and also injuring any soldiers that get in the way, giving you 2 points for the soldier who is smashed around. Second, they could be picked up and thrown directly into the screen (which looks pretty damned cool, by the way), instantly killing them and giving you 3 points. This attack is even necessary for one of the bosses later on. There's also a special attack (attack + jump simultaneously) which does an assload of damage but also takes away a chunk of your health. The points I've been referring to have a purpose in this game. A killed enemy gives 1 point, picking up a pizza (full health) gives 1 point, slamming an enemy back and forth gives 2 points, and throwing one at the screen gives 3 points. 200 points = an extra life, which comes in very handy. If you get good at throwing baddies at the screen, it's not hard to end up with 600+ points on hard mode.

There's plenty of levels for you to use these attacks on, too. You start in New York and proceed through quite a few levels, ranging from present day (1992) New York to 2,500,000,000 B.C (no joke!) after a forced trip through time. Most of the baddies you know and love from turtles lore show up, too: Shredder, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady, Tokka and Rahzar ("Master say have fun. FUN!"), and Baxter all make an appearance as well as a few other bosses. Splinter makes an appearance at the end of the game that's either incredibly rewarding or infuriating, depending on the difficulty you chose at the beginning of the game.

The game's difficulty level is never TOO hard. Those new to the genre will be just fine on easy, and there's enough of a challenge on hard for you veterans, too (holy FUCK Slash was difficult with just one player).

Sound: 9/10

I almost feel bad rating the sound effects, since they're what you'd expect from a SNES game. The music really stands out, though. There's a lot of songs you'll recognize from the cartoon series, and a few really great new compositions, too. The soundtrack does its job well of keeping you in the mood to beat the bejeesus out of the foot clan the entire way through.

Replay Value: 10/10

This game really does have great replay value in my mind. At the end, after the credits roll, it shows the time it took you to finish the game. In the same way it's fun to go for a higher score in most older games, this one really makes you want to go back and shoot for a quicker time. Since it usually only takes 30 minutes - an hour to beat this game, depending on skill level and difficulty, it's a great one to kill time when you really have nothing better to do (and sometimes even when you do).

Long story made short, give this game a try, whether through the actual cart or a ROM or however you can get your dirty hands on it. It's a blast, even today.

Just be careful not to let the shell shock get the best of you. And watch out for those toes!


  1. Do Earthbound next! I loved that game.

  2. You know, that game is just insane enough that I think I might. Suggestions are always welcome. For realsies.

  3. I loved the arcade version of this more (since I played it on arcade so often). Extremely fun game!