SYSTEM SMACK-DOWN: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (SNES, NES, Genesis)

Greetings again, my fellow retr0pians, and welcome to the very first edition of an all-new segment that I’d like to call System Smack-Down.  In these particular articles, I’ll be taking a look at games that I’ve already played or haven’t played before, and compare and analyze them to their sister console brethren to see how they stack up against one another. And for my first pick for these articles, I’ve decided to choose what I felt would be the most appropriate – a fighting game. A TMNT fighting game, that is.

TMNT_Tournament_Fighters

What we have on our hands today is a game that I’ve actually played before, but haven’t revisited in a long while (the SNES version, I mean). Originally released in 1993 and 1994 across the SNES, NES, and the Genesis, the game was essentially a Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat clone starring the Heroes in a Half-Shell, as well as many of their friends and foes. When it was released, it received some fairly positive reviews, though the SNES version had gotten the most praise out of all of them. But the most important questions still remain: How do these games stack up against one another, and how do they still hold up after all these years? Let’s find out, shall we?

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ROUND ONE: THE LOOKS

SNES – Oh man, where to begin with this? While admittedly sometimes feeling like they could be right out from a Street Fighter installment, the stages are nothing short of absolute beauty. There’s an overall sense of attention to detail and variety that persists throughout each of every one of them, which really helps to bring the game up. The character sprites are also great (albeit a bit big), as they too have a sense of attention to detail to them. I’d also like to point out the excellent use of colors, as they help to emphasize the variety in each stage. Needless to say, this is one of the best-looking 16-bit games I’ve come across yet.

NES – This version was released fairly late in the NES’ lifespan, and BOY does it show. While they aren’t completely awful, the graphics still leave a lot to be desired, as a lot of the character sprites come off looking rather shoddy, which is not helped whatsoever by their constant flickering. The stages look rather unimpressive themselves, as most of them are only defined by a single color, and for the most part are pretty uninteresting compared to the ones in the SNES version. Granted, they could’ve been a lot worse, but my point still stands.

GENESIS – I’ll be honest, the graphics in this version don’t look bad at all. However, my problem with them is the fact that a lot of the stages just seem so out of place for a TMNT game! For instance, in the background of one stage there’s this horrifying mass of flesh that looks like it came straight out of a damn H.R. Giger painting. I mean, I’m no demographical expert, but isn’t the target audience for this game supposed to be children? You know, ones who watched the cartoon show and expected something along the lines of it? And for an added bonus, take a gander at THIS screenshot. Some of you probably won’t believe me when I say this, but that is supposed to be April O’Neil.  Huh. I guess she got sick and tired of being labeled as a “Damsel in Distress”.

WINNER – SNES

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ROUND TWO: THE SOUND

SNES – In addition to the marvelous graphics, this version has another strong pro in form of the music. Of course, it’s not as great as some of the other entries of the Konami Turtles games, but it still manges to have some really catchy and memorable tunes that fit each and every stage in terms of their look and feel.

NES – Even if the graphics don’t have that much to offer, the same can’t be said about the music. Being an NES Konami game, this version has some really nice and catchy beats which actually kind of bring the game up a little. Granted, calling it one of the greatest soundtracks of an NES game is kind of stretching it, but on its’ own, it’s pretty decent!

GENESIS – Considering the quality of the music in the other two versions, you’d expect the music in this one to be just as good. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. While I have heard worse Genesis soundtracks, the music is pretty bland and forgettable, with each tune lacking any of the charismatic energy that we’ve come to expect from the Konami Turtles series. There’s also a ton of voice clips, each of which being incredibly distorted and just downright grating to the ears.

WINNER – SNES

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ROUND THREE: THE GAMEPLAY

SNES – Once again, this version has another area that it excels in. The controls are great, being tight, snappy, and responsive. There are also several combos and special moves for each character, which helps them to stand out from each other and makes them fun to use. Each match is fast-paced, exhilarating, and tough, but in a good way, meaning that they never once get tiresome or boring. While this game might be a Street Fighter clone, it plays just as well.

NES – Seeing as how this version was released when the NES was essentially nearing death’s door, it shouldn’t be surprising when I say that the gameplay isn’t all that great. Even though the controls are pretty good, it can’t save the matches from being boring and rather cheap at times. Also, why don’t the Turtles use their weapons in this version? I mean, they used them in the other ones and every other game at the time, so why not here?

GENESIS – While the NES version may be underwhelming, I’d take it ANY day over this catastrophe. First off, the controls are terrible. They’re clunky, stiff, and unresponsive, and it doesn’t help matters when you’re pitted against what is quite possibly the worst and most unfair AI that I’ve ever seen in a video game. I’m not joking about the latter, by the way – each opponent moves so fast, it’s incomprehensibly difficult to land just ONE hit on them! In a way, it kind of makes this version practically unplayable, a word that I rarely ever have to use when I review a game. Honestly, I’d rather play Shaq Fu than ever go back to this trainwreck.

WINNER – SNES

THE RETR0PIA RATINGS:

SNES – 9/10

NES – 5/10

GENESIS – 2/10

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AND VICTORY GOES TO… THE SNES VERSION! 

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3 Comments

  1. What an interesting idea for a feature… System Smackdown, I like it! I actually played the SNES version, but not the other two, so it sounds like I got the right version, haha. Also, impressive that you got all 3 versions? Wow! Well, it certainly helps for a feature like this, haha.

    Liked by 2 people

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