Friday, July 29, 2022

TMNT Tournament Fighters (NES and SNES, 1993)


Who were you expecting? ...The Addams Family?

This is something I've been wanting to check out since, legitimately, 1993. In the Nov 93 issue of Nintendo Power, the NES version got some coverage, and this was nuts for me. This was only the second issue I got as a subscriber (fourth overall), and even though I was a lapsed TMNT fan who hadn't paid much attention to it in a few years, this was still awesome to see.

But wait...who is this big yellow guy? Was he in the show? Is Leo actually getting a win here or is the yellow guy about to chomp on his foot? I have many questions. Also why does Raph look so EVIL in the background there? They did the same thing with Leo in the SNES version, which came out a couple months later, so I'll get to that.

You have four characters to choose from, and they're all pallete-swaps with different special moves. That's right, no playing as non-Turtles in this one.

Who are the non-Turtles, you ask? There are 3 in this game, and you can only fight them. Defeat all the other Turtles, and these guys essentially function as the 3 bosses. Casey and Shredder were great choices if the game could only have a couple of bosses. Then you've got...

...seriously, who? This guy does look pretty bad-ass at least. I think he's supposed to be like the Goro of the game.

I had to find out what the deal is with this guy, so I looked it up. Apparently he's loosely based on a character called Warrior Dragon from one of the TMNT comic books that ran in the early 90s. He looks different here, so even that's an iffy connection. He's also an exclusive to this game, and the one character the game has that other versions of the game don't. So, point for the NES: The only place where you can fight HOT HEAD.

Lastly we've got this great shot of Donatello delivering a Booker T Axe Kick. I assume he followed this with a SHELL SPINAROONI.

Anyway, now that Nintendo Power has me hyped up all over again, let's finally check out this game.

High-pitched screaming and gunshots are heard as we drop in on "present day New York"... wait, it's 1993 so it isn't that bad.

"It's me, your biggest fan, this is Shred" says the letter.



For some reason Raphael is blue. Not sure why, unless they were having trouble differentiating him from Raph. ...except red and orange are about as far apart as blue/purple and they differentiated those guys okay.

Why is Raph blue? SOMEONE TELL ME WHY!

Here's Hothead, who looks different from NP/the instruction manual. They couldn't even maintain consistency in this guy's look within the universe of this one game he exists in? #Justice4Hothead

Here's your character select. It's...barebones. At least Raph's portrait is slightly different.

They all have the same portrait. Not a ton of effort here so far.

And here's the game. This is pretty much it. Sewer background, turtles that look almost identical jumping around in zero gravity and throwing stubby attacks.

Well, I'm glad I didn't waste one of my precious few game purchases on this (didn't have an NES either way) because it seems like they cut some corners. Nintendo Power, as usual, made it look amazing.

Sometimes grenades float by, carried by a disembodied Splinter head. Grab one of these and you can do a projectile attack, at least until you get hit. I don't know, I couldn't get them to work.

Win, and your character does a dance. I thought this was a Mike-specific thing but it turns out they all do it.

Here's BLUE RAPH.  And I hope people enjoyed fight #1, because fight #2 onward introduce the big problem with this game: The enemies absolutely turtle the hell up.

...huh huh, turtle

But seriously, the CPU blocks CONSTANTLY in this game. Sometimes it will barely even attack, just block block block. The fights go on for ages. It doesn't do this in the first fight but it does it in all the rest and the game quickly becomes very un-fun as a result. Characters completely nullify damage when blocking, so it isn't even like you're doing chip damage.

Throws become the only way to actually win fights...if you can get close enough to do one.

I finally meet some success by discovering one thing the computer has issues with: Closing the gap with a jump kick. Usually the CPU blocks, sometimes it doesn't. Either way, that gets you close enough to follow up with a throw if you're quick. Spam this set of moves over and over again and the fights actually become winnable...if tedious.

Here's Casey, who you fight in a bar. It's great to see a non-sewer background. Interesting thing here is that the bosses are much more aggressive than the turtle fights, so they actually get EASIER because they aren't just blocking the entire time. They still block WAY too much for a game of this nature but at least you have, like, any opportunities to hit them back.

Oh boy, time for the game's sole exclusive foe.

This guy is actually challenging for a non-cheap reason. He's very aggressive and he has big, overpowering attacks. Jump kicks are useless against him because he spams this rising headbutt. This is actually a real battle!

However, he falls just like the rest of them do: By spamming throws. Every time you try to attack and he turtles up, throw.

That just leaves the final boss, the, and I quote, "Shred Head"

He punts Don in the neussen! THE MAN'S GOT A FAMILY DAMMIT!

On the second try, I won the fight pretty easily by just...spamming throws. Shredder is aggressive enough that he drops his guard a lot, but still, throws are the way to go.

...and I get my first flawless win of the game. Yeah, this game gets easier as it goes along. It's pretty weird. Some games are like that because player skill improves, this one was just because the CPU stopped BLOCKING ALL THE TIME.

Shredder and his weird-looking torso gets presumably apprehended, and that's it for this game.

Well, NP made it look way better than it actually is. The character selection being so limited was unfortunate, and the game just isn't fun to play when the enemy fighters are such...turtles.

Moving on, a couple months later we got a SNES version, this time featured in the super-rad Jan 94 issue of Nintendo Power. That issue is so overloaded with cool stuff that it'd be easy to get lost in the shuffle, but I remember really wanting to play this game at the time regardless. Never got around to it, probably because the video rental store never had it.

I hope it's better than the NES version, we'll see.

NP makes the game look amazing as usual. This time the characters have very different stats instead of all being near-identical, and you have a bunch more to choose from.

Donatello has a sweet E-Honda style Hundred Bo Slap thing going on there. Armaggon (who as a kid I just called "Armageddon") is basically Hot Head's replacement. He's the bad guy on the cover and the resident big sharp-toothed character. Wingnut, though? Not a fan, and it boggles the mind that they left BEBOP AND ROCKSTEADY out of this game in favor of characters like Wingnut.

Chrome Dome is alright, with Dhalsim-esque long reach. Aska is the sole female character, your Chun-Li or Sonya. Then the Goro of the game is this War guy. Who? I don't know.

Finally, Cyber Shredder...who looks like Super Shredder, kinda, so I'm not sure why they didn't just call him that. He's easily the strongest character in the game, but don't get too excited, you can't play as him in story mode. And in versus, everybody's just gonna want to be this guy.

Oh yeah, he can also be played in Tournament mode, so there's that. That's basically just the Arcade mode, where the beautiful-hipped April presents you with fabulous gold and prizes while the Hero Turtles themselves are nearby corpses.

I'm going with Story mode, as much as I'd like to play as Shredder. There's also a "watch" mode where you can just pick two characters and watch a CPU fight, which is kind of cool.

For story mode, you can only play as the turtles...again.

Also, there's no Casey in this one, not even as a boss.

Wait...a new villain? Ehhhh. Just stick to Shredder. Come on.

Of course, the new villain immediately kidnaps April, because that's what villains do in this universe: Kidnap Sassy Female Reporters.

But wait! They also got...probably Splinter.

.......yarp. Leo is OUTRAGED. These still images are...bad. Who cares though, let's see how the game plays.

It's confusing how Leo refers to Chrome Dome as "metal head" when there's an actual Metalhead character. Kinda explains why I thought Metalhead was in this game before. Also, does Chrome Dome just steal all of Metalhead's heat or what?

This is a pretty generic fighter for the era, and the high point is definitely being able to swing your character's weapon with the X button.

Wait a second, that pillar in the background has a bird-person...with titties?? When did the Chozo get hot?

Speaking of hot, the next fight is against Aska. Meanwhile, a giant frog looks on creepily. At least we know what Richie was reincarnated as.

Aska has this Sub-Zero esque slide move that's really hard to deal with, but at least she isn't blocking all the time.

...nevermind, I spoke too soon. That's right, starting with the second fight, the CPU characters in this game are full-on block-spammers.

This just goes on...and on...and on.

Once again, I try to close the gap and dish out some throws. Looks like the same programmers were behind this one as the NES one. Damn. The fights take forever because the CPU just sits there blocking.

Here's Wingnut. I don't wanna talk about it.

The next fight is against Rat King, essentially a boss. He can be played as in Tournament mode, and it's good to see a familiar villain finally. The weird thing is that Nintendo Power doesn't mention him AT ALL in their coverage. You'd think that Rat King would have been a selling point for the game instead of, like, Wingnut or War.

Win and April is rescued! However the bad guys still have Splinter. thoughts exactly.

Once I start getting good at throws, the game loses a lot of its difficulty. Unfortunately throws are THE ONLY THING THAT WORK.

Meanwhile, a large Cthulhu monster looks on creepily. What's with these backgrounds?

Here's the evil clone Turtle, basically a mirror match. if the game needed a mirror match when your four choices all basically look the same. At least Raph isn't blue. Imagine how redundant it'd be if the NES version had a mirror match.

Here's War, maybe the most aggressive CPU character. Which makes him easier to fight, as this game follows the same weird difficulty collapse that the NES one does.

I don't think that's true.

I win with lots of throws. Like all the other fights. Shredder was cool at least, they definitely got some inspiration from M. Bison's design here.

With that, Splinter is saved and the game ends. But wait, what about that new villain the intro mentioned? Well... the game on hard difficulty levels and you get this final battle with Karai, some Foot Clan bigwig I've never heard of. Not sure if this is Shredder's boss, or if Shredder's the top guy and this is just someone who moved up to take his place. Either way, I've never heard of them. Kinda weird to have the game hype up this mysterious new villain and then lock them behind hard modes where most of the kids playing probably won't actually see this fight. Just let Shredder be the bad guy at that point.

There was also a Sega Genesis version of the game, but I'm not playing that one because the backgrounds are unsettling and creepy as f****. Seriously, I'm not sure what depressed mind did the backgrounds for this game but I hope someone is checking on them.

It does bring back Casey, at least, and adds Krang as a character (though he's oddly small). Other than that, I have to give the edge to the SNES version for this game.

So final thoughts? NP did a great job hyping these up, but I dodged a bullet not getting them as a kid. The NES version isn't particularly good on any level, but I can say the SNES version at the very least has some strong points. Still nothing worth spending $60 on in 1993, even for a TMNT fan. So many iconic characters are missing, and the gameplay is pretty simplistic when compared to Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat which were both out already. I could see the SNES version being fun for some versus battles in the modern world though. It isn't often that you get to play as Super Shredder in a brawl.

1 comment:

  1. The SNES version of this game was one of my favorites growing up, even now I think it's still worth a play.