Review by Psycho Penguin
I'll glady bury my shell at wounded knee.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is one that will live forever in my mind, whether referring to the comic book series it originated from, the awesome movie trilogy, or the great early video games. Turtles in Time was the second Turtles game to be released in the Arcade, and while not living up to the expectations I had after the stellar original, it was still a fun game to play through, albeit on the short side. Konami didn't make matters much better when it was released on the Super Nintendo, but it still remains a classic side scrolling beat em up, and the last great Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.
The most surprising thing about this game is that it has an actual storyline that develops as you progress through the game. It's not amazingly in depth, but this time you actually get to the Technodrome early on in the game (by the 4th stage, you're fighting Shredder already), and are sucked into a time warp (hence the name of the game), where you then fight through various time periods in order to defeat the new and nasty Super Shredder once and for all. Like I said, it's not an all time classic or anything, but there is more of a purpose to it this time than just "go from stage to stage for no particular reason."
I really enjoyed this game for the same simple reason I enjoyed the last two installments of the series on NES: it's a whole lot of fun. Simple, sure, but fun nevertheless. Turtles in Time is further proof that a game does not need to be complex in order to be fun. Really, these games always boil down to the same basic gameplay concepts. Go right, beat up enemies, go right, beat up more enemies, eventually fight a boss, move to next stage. There's a not a whole lot of variation involved, but there really doesn't need to be.
The stages and enemies are certainly more unique this time out, however. In the first stage, you're on a huge bridge fighting your basic foot soldiers. Sure, we fought on a bridge in the 3rd game in the series, but this time you'll have to eventually dodge a huge head of Krang that stands behind the bridge and shoots out lasers from his eyes towards you. It's the little things like this that make the game more interesting. Later levels have you fighting dinosaurs and pirates, which definitely help to change up the feeling a little bit. Instead of facing robots and foot soldiers all game, you're actually getting a blend of enemies now.
The bosses also have received an upgrade, and now take more effort to kill than the simple "jump kick, move right, jump kick, move left, jump kick" infamous pattern that plagued the earlier titles. Each boss has a unique pattern that takes time to figure out, and they come with several offensive moves that can be tricky to dodge. In addition, you'll actually need to figure out a strategy of your own in order to defeat them, instead of just rushing up to them and pushing the same two buttons over and over until they die.
You get to choose which turtle you want to be, of course, but the basic problem of it not really mattering which one you choose is thankfully not really an issue this time out. The reason for this is the fact that each Turtle has a different weapon, and this time out the weapon's range and movement speed actually matter. Donatello gets a bo, which is long and has good range, but is slower and therefore he can't attack as quickly, as opposed to Raphael, who has trouble hitting long range enemies but can kill them faster. Plus, each turtle gets a special move, as well, which is retained from the previous installment but was still a welcome idea.
One welcome addition to the series was the addition of a life bar for bosses. Some may scorn this idea, since part of the fun of the earlier games was to keep hitting the boss until it eventually starts "blinking". However, I found this to be an absolute improvement. This time out the boss will appear with several red squares on the top of the screen, and as you cause major damage, one red square will go away. Once you do enough damage, they'll all be gone and you will have defeated the boss. The bosses still blink and animate great as well, as some of them get tired. One robot boss starts "breaking down" as the battle progresses, which was just superb.
Another awesome innovation that the game provided was the absolutely wonderful animations that the Turtles get as they plow through enemies now. You can do everything from pick them up over your head with your weapon, to smashing them back and forth on the ground, to even throwing them up through the screen! This certainly breaks up the monotony as well, since you can kill every enemy in a different way. You will definitely get a kick out of the enemy smashing the first time you perform the animation.
The controls are a breeze to pick up, as well. You only get a few buttons to work with, and each one has its own function which work well with one another. Throwing an enemy off the screen is as simple as pushing R, for instance. Jump kicking has never been easier, attacking enemies is a breeze, and you will find very little to complain about when it comes to controls here.
Accompanying the stellar gameplay are terrific graphics. Konami did an absolute wonderful job porting the game over to SNES, as there is no slowdown whatsoever and the stages look phenomenal. Every stage looks visually stunning, from the dark skies of the opening stage to the prehistoric forest you'll visit later on in the game. The backgrounds are well designed and fully animated, and I was overall totally impressed with the visual style and flair. The enemy designs were larger than in the previous games, and definitely much more detailed as well.
Sadly, the music can't quite live up to the previous games in the series, especially the technodrome song, which is so instantly forgettable. Most of the music in the game is stuff that you'll find fine at the time, then forget about when you turn the game off. I can still remember a lot of songs from the NES games, but only the boss theme from this one. While the music is aurally pleasing and not grating in the least, it's disappointing and the worst aspect of the game. The sound effects are, as usual, fantastic, with the occasional voice slipping in. "Ow! My foot, my foot!" in the sewer surfing stage is always a favorite of mine.
Sadly, this is not the most challenging game in the world, besides the bosses, who can prove to be tricky as the game progresses. Most of the stages are the simple "beat up enemies" idea that we all have probably gone through dozens of times by now, so nothing here will prove to be new or a challenge. The bosses really are the only difficult thing, but once you figure out their patterns, even they turn into a joke. Fortunately, you can make the game harder and take away lives if you wish.
I always find myself coming back to this game, due to the fact it's so simple to get into. You just pick it up, turn it on and get ready to beat some enemies up. No six hour story scenes, no in depth control explanations, just a fun game that can be played whenever you want. Whenever I am bored and in need of a SNES game to just kick back and relax with, I usually turn to this game. I've beaten it dozens of times, and will probably beat it dozens more before all is said and done.
Sadly, this was the last great game in the series, as the license soon lost its luster until the show was rejuvenated as a crappy anime style cartoon. The games nowadays are usually lame and forgettable, but playing this one will remind you of the days when games were not all about 17 hit combos or super angsty storylines. While this is not an all time classic, this is easily one of the better experiences on the SNES, and stands as one of the top beat em ups of all time. I highly recommend checking this one out, even if you're not a fan of the Turtles. (Heathens!)
Just try not to pick up the Playstation 2 titles. Ugh, they suck SO BAD.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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