Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Night Rentals: Heartache in a Halfshell: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If you were to search top five "Nintendo Hard" games list, likely this would turn up on many, if not all of them.  Developed by Konami and published by Ultra Games, this little gem has caused so much swearing among gamers that it would make Yosemite same blush.  

I love the cover of this game, as it looks less like the cartoon and a bit more like the original comic that spawned the phenomenon that was, and still is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Not that I don't still enjoy the cartoon and didn't love it back then, but it was kinda neat for some reason to see all the turtles wearing the same colored mask.  

It was and still is brutally hard.  The dam can cause you to utter its name with blasphemous undertones.  Navigating the labyrinthine levels sometimes can feel like a chore.  Raphael, far from playing the part of a bad-you-know-what like he did in the movies; has an completely useless weapon and will always be your last resort or first to die.  For all her nattering on, April supposedly giving you her support means diddly squat when the Foot Clan seems to have recruited fiery goblins from hell to murder you.  What about music and sound though?  Well, the sound of blades, bo staffs, and other weapons whipping through the air was cool.  The various effects you hear throughout the game shows off not only the particular sound design that was Konami, but shows how they were usually on point with what they were doing.  Music for this game was another matter though.  For those of us expecting to hear the classic cartoon theme, it was a let down.  Just listen:

Not exactly what you'd call the 8-bit version of the ol' "heroes in a halfshell" variety.  But it still works for the game tonally and puts you in the mood for the action.  But if you were hoping to sing along--yeah, it was disappointing.  So what has the game really got then?  Yeah, it has the turtles, but with insane difficulty, oddly laid out maps, and unevenly balanced weapons it wasn't at all what I was expecting when I rented it.  I was hoping for something that was an action-packed awesome-fest like what I saw during the cartoon.  Aside from the graphic design of the turtles making them look pretty decent; I admit I was disappointed and knew playing the game was fighting an uphill battle, only this uphill battle had machine guns firing at you as you made the climb.  I was hoping for bright colors and cool boss fights, not endless wandering around the same stupid sewers over and over again.  But...

But for all that, it's still utterly incredible.  You were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!   Beating the Foot Clan wasn't supposed to be a cake walk.  If you weren't fighting a punishing, uphill battle, then conquering the game wouldn't have felt nearly as satisfying.  Who cares if it was hard navigating the electrified seaweed on the dam level?   Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were awesome and everything about them was awesome.  I asked for this game for Christmas and got it.  And you know what?  It's still an awesome game.  I still get a smile when I hear the "overworld" theme as you wonder the streets looking for buildings or sewers to go into.  Who couldn't listen to this and get a peppy, upbeat feeling inside? :

"Overworld 1"

It might seem odd to heap such high praise on a game that easily qualifies as a "Nintendo Hard" game.  But hard doesn't mean it wasn't fun.  It just meant you were going to have to push through the problems of limited continues and high-difficulty bosses.  After all, it's what the turtles themselves would do.  How would they do it you might ask?


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