Approximate Release Date: August 15, 1992
It’s impressive how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time nails the ’90s cartoon experience.
This doesn’t feel like a cash-in, which is rare for licensed games. The graphics are great, the music is catchy and fits the franchise, and the series’ humor is present throughout. It’s very impressive in those regards, and the game holds up so well today partly because it is able to ape so much of the cartoon. The fact that Turtles in Time is fun to play is even more of a miracle.
Turtles in Time doesn’t stray too much from established brawlers like Final Fight or the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games. You move through the levels and beat up any bad guys you see along the way. Obviously, there are four characters to choose from – Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo – and they have marginal differences between them, mostly as a tradeoff between attack power and attack range. Every person who survived the 1990s has a favorite turtle, and they’re all worth using here.
One addition to the game I really like is the ability to grab foot ninjas and throw them into the screen. Not only does it look cool, but it’s also the most effective way of dealing with some stronger foes. One boss fight even centers around nothing but tossing baddies into the screen!
It is hard to reliably throw enemies, though. I had a lot of trouble as a kid doing so on command. Sometimes you’ll just smash the bad guy into the ground a couple of times instead, or worse, hit him with your weapon and not take him out. Konami has assigned too many actions to the Y button when there are plenty of buttons that aren’t used at all in the game. I assume it’s because of Turtles in Time‘s arcade heritage because Final Fight had the same problem, but it’s annoying and leads to mistakes.
You’ll also find there are enemies that will attack you from off-screen or are able to essentially stunlock a turtle and prevent a counter attack. This can be alleviated by playing with a friend, which I recommend, but it’s annoying to take damage without recourse. Turtles in Time does manage to dodge the common brawler problem of having terrible boss battles, though. Bosses are tough but fair and usually have more to them than just being overpowered grunts.
All told, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time is not only a great Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, it’s a great game and is my favorite in the genre. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and has enough variety in levels and enemies to keep interest levels high.
Tomorrow: Will I be blown away by Ka-Blooey or will it fizzle out?