Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
In a previous review I had mentioned that the TMNT arcade game is one of my all-time favorites. As a child growing up, the Saturday morning cartoon was life.
The arcade game because a quarter-sucker for me and a literal cartoon brought to life by the Konami game, with up to four players able to play. The graphics were accurate, the audio lifted soundbytes and music from the series and just about every aspect of the game was perfect, as a beat-em-up that had you destroying hundreds of on-screen ninjas by its completion.
Much of that was carried over in the NES port of that game, TMNT 2. Yet, the translation left something lacking, as the game’s visuals and audio were altered for the underpowered original Nintendo. It added more enemies and added two entirely new levels with new bosses to lengthen the game.
That was great, but it felt like something was still missing.
The true sequel to the arcade game, Turtles in Time, is labeled as TMNT 4 on the Nintendo platform due to a third game, The Manhattan Project, being released on the NES during the end of its life cycle. Oddly, and not in a bad way, TMNT 3 borrowed the entire platform of the TMNT 2 port, down to the visuals and game play, creating an entirely new game which was a direct sequel to the NES title but not the arcade one.
Adding to the awkwardness is the timing of the game’s releases: TMNT 3, which borrows elements from Turtles in Time, released after the arcade version and only six months before the arcade game was ported to the new Super Nintendo.
Unlike TMNT 2 and TMNT 3, TMNT 4 (Turtles in Time) is a faithful recreation of the arcade classic. Everything that was in the original arcade game is retained, along with newer visuals, music, stages, and bosses. The turtles have some additional moves, and the game, even with it’s quirky time travel stages, melds the cartoon, movies, and toy line in harmony.
Also, unlike TMNT 3, this game doesn’t appear to extend levels by adding additional waves of the same enemies like its siblings. There are newer palate swap foot clan ninjas of course, but the update in technology in the arcade, as well as the horsepower of the SNES port, are on full display here.
The visuals are nearly identical to the arcade game, whereas the NES clones are not. A few unnoticeable effects were removed because of playing on a console, much of the stutter and glitchy-ness of 2 and 3 are gone. The game plays smooth as butter both from an animation and control standpoint.
Like the TMNT 2 translation, other changes were made, in particular to the bosses. The evil mutant turtle Slash appears in place of Cement Man (a great decision I may add) while the game also adds the Rat King (a major secondary villain in the cartoon) as well as Beebop and Rocksteady, who were absent from the arcade version.
The arcade sequel also includes the “fly” version of Baxter Stockman, who originally only appears in human form in the original arcade version, but replaced playing against the duo of Beebop and Rocksteady simultaneously on the NES TMNT 2 port. Other bosses from TMNT lore include Metalhead (or “Chrome dome” as he’s known in other mediums), Leatherhead (who appears in TMNT 3 also) plus Tokka and Rahzar (from the second movie) round out much of the roster.
Some of the auto-scroll levels were changed to bonus stages, with a new Shredder “battle tank” boss battle was added at the end of new Technodrome level.
The game ends with a climactic battle against a mutated “Super Shredder” much in the same vein as the end of the TMNT 3 NES game.
Overall TMNT 4 is one of the gold standards of arcade ports on the SNES. It showed just how powerful a home console could be, at a time when arcades were starting to die. Any fan of the games, cartoon, toys and/or movies would be hard-pressed to not give this game a look.