Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review #347: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(Arcade)

 I still don't like it.
 Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games have carved themselves a spot in many a gamer's heart, so much so that it's not unusual to have people call them the 'TMNT videogames' golden age', since, apparently, these games were the best TMNT games ever made. Ever. Sadly, at least the first entry, is not.

 Shredder and Krang, the most useless pair of villains to ever set foot on TV, kidnap Splinter and April O'Neal, so the turtles must rescue them. That's the story, and frankly, that's all this game needs. As a beat'em up and as an Arcade game, narrative is something that matter very little, what's really important is getting players bashing skulls as soon as possible. My first issue comes with the different turtles, all of them have slightly different attributes(Donnie is strong but slow, Mikey is fast, etc), but the only way to pick a turtle is to pick a side on the Arcade Cabinet. Most emulated versions will default you as Leonardo, since you'll more probably than not be Player 1, but there's bound to be a workaround. Regardless, it's annoying, most games of the era let you select a character from a menu, or switch characters upon respawning, so Konami's system is inexcusable.
 What really set this game apart from the rest was its four player gimmick back in the day. The problem is that this game isn't very fun if you are by yourself. There's two different actions: Jump and Attack, and that's all you'll ever do in the game. While enemies come equipped with different weapons, only the ones that wield a lance require a different approach to take down. Even bosses, once you find a way to exploit their AI, it's all over for them. There's no weapons to pick up to break the monotony, although you can interact with a very few objects that serve as projectiles every now and then. Every single beat'em up game is repetitive in nature, which is why one of the most important things is making the attacks feel crunchy, you want the player to feel rewarded when he lands blows. Sadly, TMNT, and most of Konami's beat'em ups, fail at this, movement is very floaty, attacks lack oomph, and while the game is rather pleasing to the eyes, the feedback from your attacks lacks weight. Basically, if you don't have other people to play the game with, and if they don't manage to remain invested in the game, you'd rather stay away from this game.

 Honestly, barring a few exceptions, I've never been much of a fan of Konami's beat'em ups, but if there's something worth praising, it's the use of the license. While I've made my views on the awful TMNT show from the 80s pretty clear, this game managed to capture its style perfectly. The turtles,  Splinter, April, Bebop, Rocksteady, Shredder, Krang, the Foot and the Mousers look exactly like they should. Even the stages look as backgrounds that could've been part of the show, heck, the sewers look just like they did in the series. Sadly, I don't think there're reasons to come back to this game for most people. There's better TMNT games on the PS2, on the DS and now even on current gen consoles. And, y'know, Battle Nexus on PS2 is alright and has a port of this very game.... But if what you are looking for is a TMNT beat'em up done right, there's Ubisoft's GBA game, which was fantastic.
 4.0 out of 10

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