REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (1992, SNES)

Today, we’re gonna take a dive into the big pool of 1980’s nostalgia. If you were growing up in the 80’s, there’s a good chance that you watched a cartoon called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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Based off of a (very) violent comic book, the series followed around the adventures of four turtles trained in the arts of ninjutsu; leader Leonardo, machine-doing Donatello, cool but rude Raphael, and party dude Michelangelo. Together, they battled many evils in forms of the ruthless Shredder, brain-like Krang, moronic Bebop and Rocksteady, and many others. They were also aided by many allies, such as their rat sensei Splinter, and jumpsuit wearing but personality-lacking April O’ Neil, who was often a damsel in distress.

After a mini series was broadcast in late 1987, the property would soon find astounding success in 1988. These green guys were literally everywhere; action figures, movies, STAGE SHOWS, the works. So of course, it was a no-brainer that video games were to be made. And we’re going to talk about one of many video games to come out of the TMNT cash cow – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time.

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Originally released in 1991 as an arcade beat-em-up and developed by the now detested Konami, Turtles in Time revolved around the titular reptillian warriors as they chased Shredder and his lackeys, who have stolen the Statue of Liberty, throughout space and time. The game proved to be quite popular – so popular in fact, that in 1992, it was granted a port to the Super Nintendo. Now, with all of that out of the way, will Turtles in Time have me saying “COWABUNGA!”, or will it leave me hankering for some turtle soup? Let’s find out, shall we?

THE LOOKS – If there’s one thing about Turtles in Time that really surprised me, it’s how well they managed to translate the visuals of the cartoon into a video game format. The game’s graphics are just GORGEOUS, with all of the stages having a bright yet very striking and appealing use of colors, and incredibly detailed backgrounds. It also helps that the background would also sometimes play a major role in some stages, like when Krang would show up in the Big Apple, 3 A.M. level, and attempt to fry you. Another good example is Skull and Crossbones level, which if you weren’t careful, a board would hit you clean on your nose. The background also does a very good job in making certain levels intense, such as when you’re on a train in the Bury My Shell At Wounded Knee level, making your fight against the endless amount of Foot Soldiers much more exciting. The game’s graphics are simply spectacular in all the right ways.

THE SOUND – Oh… My… Miyamoto… if anyone asked me what my favorite soundtrack to a beat-em-up is, it would be this one, hand’s down. Just… just take a listen.

Where do I even begin? Well, I could start off by saying that ALL OF THE MUSIC FITS EACH AND EVERY SINGLE STAGE PERFECTLY. I’m not joking, not only is the music very well composed, but it’s also catchy as all heck! Seriously, I can’t last a single day without Sewer Surfin’ randomly popping up in the head and playing ruthlessly! The sound effects are also great too, with each one fitting the context of the actions flawlessly. Granted, some of them might get a bit irritating (MY TOES! MY TOES!), but that’s only a minor nitpick.

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Raph and Mikey, fighting side by side.

THE GAMEPLAY – Okay, on paper, Turtles in Time doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. It’s just your typical, everyday beat-em-up with TMNT characters in it…is what the average joe would think. In my opinion, it’s all about the execution of it that matters – and Konami executed it in the best way possible. The gameplay is just insanely addictive, with the controls being smooth as butter and the hit-detection being spot-on. Each turtle also has their own distinctive gameplay style: Leo is all-range, Donnie can use his staff to hit enemies from longer distances, and…Raph is the fastest, and Mikey is the strongest? HUH?? Okay, this might be a silly thing to complain about, but shouldn’t it be the other way around? Anyways, the Turtles’ gameplay styles are all slightly different from one another, but all share the same purpose: kill as many Foot Soldiers as possible. Add in a varied list of attacks, and you have yourself a recipe for gold.

THE BOTTOM LINE – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time takes everything that made the TMNT franchise as popular as it was, and translates it almost flawlessly into a cartridge format, not only resulting in the greatest TMNT game ever made, one of the greatest beat-em-ups ever made, or even one of the greatest SNES games ever made – but one of the greatest games to come out in the 16-bit era. PERIOD. If you’re an avid fan of the franchise or an SNES owner, then this is a must-play. Heck, I’d even recommend it to those who aren’t really into the franchise! Man, if a TMNT game can be THIS good, then I can’t wait to see what other games have came out in the past few years-

….oh.

9/10

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4 Comments

  1. This is the holy grail, so far as I’m concerned. I’ve got a SNES but I’ve never been able to get a hold of the cartridge as an adult. I really loved this game, and the beat ’em up arcade TMNT game, too. I liked the brevity of your review and its focus on a few prime elements. Great work! Thanks for the read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the compliments! I highly recommend looking on sites such as eBay or Amazon, those are guaranteed easy finds (if the price is fair, that is).
      It’s really disappointing that none of the TMNT games after this one couldn’t capture the magic of this one. Hopefully Mutants in Manhattan will change that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I looked on Amazon and it was around $60, which I can’t conscience right now. And I lost faith in Ebay, after some unfortunates. Of course, there are other, seedier ways but …well… I’d prefer the cartridge.

        Liked by 1 person

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