Saturday, April 17, 2010

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (1992, Konami, NES)

TMNT on the NES isn't really the game franchise in it's best form. The first two games aren't really worth playing, and are quite disappointing for fans. But I'm happy to say that the third breaks this trend and gives us the 2nd best brawler on the NES: The Manhattan Project (which I just realized is the name of a nuclear bomb. 0_0)

The plot is that The Turtles are enjoying a nice vacation in the Key Islands, when all of a sudden The Shredder announces that he is kidnapping April O'Neil and taking the whole island of Manhattan by lifting it off of the ground.

The gameplay is vastly improved from the second game. You can now perform combo attacks, and can even impale and throw your enemies; a nice touch. Not only that, Each of the Turtles has their own special attack that's always useful in a pinch, however it can burn through your energy quickly. The 2 player has made a return, and still is pretty slow and it still flickers quite a bit, but it's still fun and makes the game more enjoyable. Another nice touch with the game is the ability to swap out Turtles when you lose a life. It really helps when you need another characters special attack during a tough boss battle.

About that, The Manhattan Project is a pretty tough game. Not as hard as say, the first game, but it can get nasty at times. The enemies have some pretty tricky attacks and the bosses are incredibly aggravating, but with some patience and a bit of skill they are easily conquered. The visuals are nice, colorful and stylish. All of the in-game environments are diverse and unique, and the art direction for the turtles and enemy characters is top-notch.

The music is also amazing. The tunes are upbeat and intense, featuring the TMNT theme throughout the compositions, as expected of course. My personal favorite is the theme that plays during the credits; it's funky and is a nice reward for completing the game.

Other that a few changes and different levels, The Manhattan Project is not much different from the second game. It's much better than TMNT II, but it suffers from the same glitchy cooperative play, and the boss encounters can be unfair from time to time. But as it stands, it's a lot better than the first two, and aside from Double Dragon 2, is the best beat em' up for the NES.

+ Pretty Colors.
+ Can swap out players.
+ Fun co-op.
+ Catchy music.

- Similar to the 2nd game.
- 2-Player still glitch-ridden.
- Frustrating Boss fights.

Overall: ***8 out of 10***

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (1990, Ultra, NES)

The first Turtles game for the NES was quite disappointing. It was annoyingly difficult, the licence was almost completely wasted, and the ending was a total bomb. I had high hopes for it's sequel, which is a port of my favorite arcade game, which I haven't really seen outside of Chuck E Cheezes, so having a home version would be nice. But when I played it, I had mixed thoughts. It was better than the first game, but only barely. As a port of the arcade, it was a pretty big letdown.

The plot for the NES version is this; Shredder survived his defeat at the hands of the Turtles, and wants revenge. So, he kidnaps April O'Neil (Again?!?) and Master Splinter, regroups his robotic Foot army, and hires two intergalactic bounty hunters (more on that later). So it's up to the Turtles to rescue their friends and defeat Shredder once and for all (heh).

The game is simple; move right and beat the snot out of all that stand before you. You have two attacks; your basic weapon attack and a special move executed by pressing both buttons at the same time. Your most common enemies are of course Robot Foot soldiers which either take you on with their fists, or a array of other weapons. These guys typically go down with two hits, but that's not always the case. Unlike the original NES game, TMNT II has 2-Player co-op. This is a neat feature in theory, but the flicker and slowdown are so bad that your better off playing by yourself.

The levels you fight through are varied enough. The first stage even takes place inside a burning building! You go through the streets of New York, the sewers of New York, the freeway, and of course, the infamous Technodrome. But included in the NES version (at Nintendo's request, apparently) are two new levels; a frozen Central Park and a Japanese castle. Both have two new bosses; Tora, a mutant, bitch-slapping polar bear, and Shogun, a weird alien with a big spear. Normally I would applaud a arcade port for including new levels and bosses, but I can't with a clear conscience because these new features, quite frankly, are pretty mediocre (aside from the music).

Another big issue is the collision detection. When you hit a enemy, they snap into a animation that reflects that you hit said enemy, right? Well, you cannot hit the enemy again until they snap out of this animation. In layman's terms; you can't perform combos! This makes the combat very uninteresting, and almost breaks the game.

But to the game's credit, it is still pretty fun to thrash hordes of Foot Soldiers, and as glitchy as it is, the co-op is still damn fun! TMNT II looks pretty good, but I noticed something that I found pretty shameful; there are Pizza Hut ads all over the place, hell, the game even comes with a coupon for a Pizza from the restaurant! The Turtles like pizza, I know, but it's still silly!

Unlike the first game, the music is really good. Most of the songs are renditions of the TMNT theme (which is awesome) but they are good remixes. The snow level is probably my favorite.

TMNT II is kind of a mixed bag for me. The 2-Player is slow and bug-ridden, and the inability to do combos make the game pretty much so-so, but the decent graphics and awesome music keep me playing, not to mention that I'm a big fan of the TMNT franchise. So I think TMNT II is a okay game, very good for beat 'em up fans, and for Ninja Turtles fans, but for all casual fans and retro gamers this game will be mediocre for you.

+ Pretty visuals.
+ Good tunes.
+ Co-op in a beat 'em up is always a good thing.

- Glitchy Co-op in a beat 'em up is always a bad thing.
- You can't do combos!
- Pizza Hut ads are kind of...odd.

OVERALL: 6.5 out of 10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989, Ultra, NES)


TMNT is probably my favorite T.V show ever. I always loved the cheesy surfer-dude talk and the general plot and setting of the series (I don't know, Ninjas in cities are cool.). A big name like TMNT is sure to have big licencing, like with video games. And so, in 1989 Konami, under their sister company Ultra Games released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. And not surprisingly it sold over a million copies in America alone. However the critical reaction to the game has been less positive. Out of curiosity, I found, bought, and played through it.

TMNT is a side-scrolling action game with some Zelda-like overhead exploration thrown in. You control the 4 titular heroes: Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. All 4 turtles generally handle the same way, but their weapons are of course totally different. Leo's katanas are used for general combat, Donatello's Bo staff is a great long-range weapon, and both Mike and Raph are (as far as I can tell) useless.

The game has some exploration in it, requiring you to find etc. on a overhead field of some sort. This is the most needless part of the entire game. It probably would be a bit better if they just made the game linear, as it's core gameplay is straightforward action, which to be honest is quite questionable as it is. The action parts consist of the turtle you are controlling moving through a environment destroying bad guys (which almost all have nothing to do with the TMNT license) until you get to a boss or another exploration part.

The graphics are okay, I suppose. The turtles look like their supposed to, and the enemies look okay too, even if they don't belong there. The stages, however lack detail and color, making the environments seem a bit lifeless. But still the game looks the part, mostly.

The music is pretty bad. It sounds good but there is a distinct lack of the TMNT theme, which seems kind of silly not to include, seeing that this is a TMNT game. Not to mention, the music that is there is mostly just filler, nothing that you will be humming in your head all day long.

The gameplay is the biggest issue. The game itself is basic side-scrolling action, but the difficulty and controls come awfully close to ruining the whole experience. TMNT is a brutally hard video game, even with a Game Genie. Enemies have awkward patterns and can easily swarm the player, draining your health bar rapidly. Stage design is sloppy with tight jumps and awkwardly placed(and respawning) enemies. The Dam stage is so frustrating and broken that most people never finished this game because of it. There is nothing wrong with challenge, but TMNT takes it a bit too far in this regard. The control is too loose for the type of jumps you are required to make. The jumping is floaty. It's hard to land on anything precise and you move too slow. But in reality the control problems are capable of working around.

Overall, TMNT is disappointing. I heard a lot of flak about it, and typically I disagree with the masses when it comes to criticizing old video games (too many compare them to games today, which makes no sense to me) but in TMNT's case they're pretty much right on the money. It is available for the Wii's Virtual Console service, but it costs more due to the license and there are much better game you could be buying with those points. Save your Turtle Power for the sequels, and pass on this flawed relic.

+ Decent visuals.
+ Non-linear gameplay.

- Way, way too hard for it's own good.
- Meaningless use of the TMNT license.
- Imprecise controls that lead to a lot of cheap hits.
- Haphazard level design.

OVERALL: 5 out of 10