Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles review
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, how that names brings back memories to so many people. I don't know why, but I can't remember much of the series as a kid. I remember watching it, but I just don't remember what happened, but it was popular. I remember my brother wearing like some clothe with holes in to pretend he was one of them, and I think we all did something like that as a kid. I was willing to give this game a go, despite all the Nerd's preaching of it being a terrible game and all that. This is Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Oh yeah, not "Ninja". Here in England, it's "Hero" for some odd reason. Was there some Copyright infringement or something? Ninja sounds way cooler than Hero, if you ask me.
The game opens up with a awesome tune and a cut scene, one of the few games to use them. It shows all the turtles, them using their weapons and their names. It was only now I could appreciate how awesome their names are, especially Raphael. Then we see Splinter point with just one frame dedicated to that movement, and the screen moves over to Shredder, our main evil villain of the game. He kidnaps April. For those who don't know much about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter is the mentor of the Turtles, and taught them everything he knew. He's one of those loveable elderly people that still packs a punch with old age. And he's a rat.....yes a mutant rat. April is the human thrown into the plot to make the clash of humans and mutants a little more interesting. She is not a mutant, and wears an iconic yellow rain coat. So the goal is to rescue April, save the town from Shredders evil doing, infiltrate his base and take him out once and for all, preferably in that order.
So you start in a town, and you can walk around with an overhead view. There are man holes you can go down to progress to different stages of the level. There are also these tank things that when you touch them, you instant die, with the message "[Turtle's Name] has been captured". You then pick a different Turtle to continue the fight. As far as I'm aware, you can't get them back unless you get a game over. In essence, you have four lives, and three continues before going back to the start again. Every time you pause, you get different messages from Splinter and (when rescued) April, which mildly help at the best of times. You also get a map on the screen, which is really helpful when you get to Level 3. You collect pizza slices to regain health. One slice reals one bar, half a slice heals half a bar, and a full one heals all your health. You can change from turtle to turtle whenever you wish, so you van just get the weakest turtle out when you spot a slice and heal him, then switch back to one that has more health. You can still attack enemies in this overhead view, and it's quite comical seeing them explode when you hit them. It's the style of explosion, really. It tells me "YOU DEFEATED AN ENEMY. CONGRATULATIONS!!!"
As you enter a man hole, you enter a side scrolling platformer where enemies are out for your hide. Each weapon is more effective to enemies than others, so even though the Katana has more range, the Sai might be more effective to kill some enemies in there. As I absolutely love the Bo Staff, I'm picking Donatello. The Bo Staff is a personal favourite in this game as well, as it seems overall very effective and covers the most range. That isn't to say the others don't have their perks. The katana seems to "slice round corners" if you know what I mean, where the Bo is a clunky straight stab attack, not a swing. reminds me of the whip in Castlevania, maybe that's why I like it so much. That's a good thing about this game, they make beneficent uses, differences, advantage and disadvantages with how the weapons attack enemies. Stabs and swings are just different attack styles, they are different ways to play the game. If you want to be a master of this game, you gotta be kinda like Ninja Turtle Avatar and master all their styles of attacking and how their weapon works. I work best with the Bo, the the Katatan, then the Nun-Chucks, and finally the Sai. With this in mind, I use my strongest first till near death, then choose my weakest till a pizza slice. It works for me. It's good to see that they didn't use the range of the weapon as power, but having it a little like Megaman and the Robot Masters where one weapon is better to use against an enemy than it is to another, except you don't fight any Robot Masters and you don't gain their power-ups. Speaking of power-ups, some enemies drop weapons you can use as secondaries, again like in Castlevania. You press select to change between weapons, and they range from throwing stars to Sonic Booms.
Another thing I will praise highly is the controls of the game. They're a rare set, making you feel epic and awesome like a Ninja Turtle would be. You can jump and then attack upwards to defeat an enemy, and land with a downward thrust for another enemy. It's amazing. The first thing I thought when I jumped and attacked upwards was ":DDD Mind=blown". The hit frame for enemies and Turtles is fairly good, although it is a little unfair to the enemies as I could swear I hit an enemy with a weapon out of range. This is balanced with the poor hit frame of the electric weed things in Level 2. Also, whenever you hit your head on the ceiling, you kinda get trapped there, and lose a lot of potential distance. I think this was designed to make the player not jump to high in certain situations. Would a Ninja jump and hit his head on the ceiling when jumping a gap? No, and if he did do that, his head won't slide along it, he'll hit it and become a little dazed. So what you have to do is tab the jump button a little for small jumps, hold it for a bit longer for a medium jump, and hold down for a second to a large jump. It's not like a Megaman where you can control your height of the jump, it's designed to use different jumps for different situations. A smaller jump might make a narrow gap, but a bigger jump will fail you.
The graphics aren't that bad. They look good, but they seem a little sloppy to me. For some reason, they don't look polished to me. Maybe it's the background of some places that put me off. There is some fine detail in it, but there are often so many enemies on the same screen, they flicker and it's hard to appreciate them for what they are. That's the main problem, the flickering. A common problem when the screen is overloaded with sprites. When the screen exceeds eight (the maximum amount it can hold), they disappear to allow a ninth to appear. They reappear as that ninth one disappears to allow the one that disappeared to reappear, and all of the sprites try to do this at once, creating flickering, or something along those lines. This game will often have a lot of sprites on the same screen, and this problem will be very common throughout the game, often distorting the graphics and how you see them.
The music is very well done. The overhead view of the first Level seems quite cheerful despite a kidnapping, but that all changes when you enter a man hole. Kinda reminds me a little of Castlevania, dunno why. In face, this games style seems like a combination of Castlevania with its difficulty and attacks, and Contra with it's jumping and awesome controls. Who made this game? .....Konami?! Their symbol isn't on the cart or box, but it's copyrighted by Konami. Wow....any game Konami makes is awesome. Anyway, the music you hear when you complete a level fills you with that sense of accomplishment any good game can offer. I really feel good about myself when I complete a level, and it kinda gives me that magical sense of being able to help the Turtles in some way that adds to the sense of achievement.
That's another thing I love about this game, the difficulty. It has that "no push-over" sense that quite a few popular NES games have, like Contra, Castlevania and Megaman, which were all a pain to beat. This game is no different. It's challenging, and will most likely give you a huge sense of achievement if you can complete it. This is one of those games that back then, defeating it would have easily earned you a worthy hard core gamer title with your friends. However, some of the difficulty is done in a cheap way. At first, you don't notice it as you just think you suck, but after a while, you notice "hang on, that;s not right". Like in Level 2, there is a part underwater where you swim up and see a piece of that electric weed. You naturally go to the left, to stay as far away from it as possible, but when the screen scrolls up, there are these weeds on both sides. Oh yeah, real fair game. What's more, you could be bang in the middle, and the slightest touch to these weeds on the left will harm you, but you can touch the weeds on the right and not get harmed. How cheap and poorly coded is that? After a while, I have come to the conclusion that the game is unforgiving in it's attacks, even when the player is being careful at some stages. Despite this, I like the challenge very much, even if some of the hits are cheap.
Overall I give this game a 7.9/10 I can see why the Nerd hated this game, but truth be told, I think it's legitimately a good game. I like the challenge it gives, the style of attacks you have to adapt to, both you enemies and your own, and everything else about it. I enjoyed it, even if I did rage quit at one point, I'll most likely pick up that controller and try again. If you are a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you'll enjoy this NES game. If you like platformers, you'll still enjoy this game, just don't expect it to be a walk in the park. Like any Ninja, you must prepare for the road ahead.