When I was growing up I used to spend a lot of my time watching my brother play video games on his NES and SNES systems. By the time the Playstation and Nintendo 64 came into the house, I was old enough to begin my own career as a gamer. During those early years, however, my brother, twin, and I played a lot of games together. One of the games I remember playing all the time, from beginning to end, and having a blast with each time was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. This was the one on the Super Nintendo, not the arcade version.
It was one of my favorite games to play, and when I learned it was being released for the newer gen consoles, I was naturally excited. The promise of better graphics didn’t appeal to me, as I’m a sucker for the old school look of the Bit generation, but there was the idea that the game could be expanded. Made more awesome. This was the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360! Anything was possible with such powerful, sturdy machines to explore.
Imagine my disappointment when I played just recently for the first time with my twin, hoping to relive some wonderful memories of gaming past, and discovered a choppy, rushed port that seemed more akin to the Arcade and not the SNES version. There were levels missing and shortened, the voice overs were indistinct and even the title screens for each level were boring and a large step back from the SNES version.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled is not what I wanted it to be.
Does that make it a bad game? No, I suppose not. Kids of the new age turtle cartoons might pick it up and enjoy it, not knowing what they’re missing, and there is some pleasure to be derived from playing some of the familiar levels with new graphics and controls. It is an incredibly short game, though we played through on the Easy setting just to see if we could get to Shredder at the end. If the more difficult settings are any different, beyond the obvious being harder thing, I don’t know.
Even on easy, we were dying a lot. This was probably because we were playing it like we had back in the day: run through the linear levels and bash the attack button every time a Foot Soldier pops up. Apparently this version of the game wants more focus on planning and care, picking up on the patterns of boss fights, and generally hopes to slow the player down. Maybe so they don’t notice how short each stage is, and how few stages there actually are. Coming from the SNES version, there were odd differences that really detracted from the overall game. No Technodrome, for one. Shedder just decides to throw the turtles back in time at the end of Sewer Surfing, with no fight against the Rat King. The animation that plays while the turtles are spinning through the time vortex is boring, with one turtle trying to swim against the pull while the other looks like he’s having an inappropriately fun time with it all. There is no Bebop or Rocksteady at the end of the Skull and Crossbones level, instead replaced by Tokka and Rhazar. Prehistoric Tutlesaurus ends in a fight with… the Cement Man, rather than the much more recognizable Slash. There aren’t even any Mousers in the game!
There were a lot of things I missed from the SNES version, and that’s probably what is making me get so down on this version. Facts remain, like how short the game is and how easy it is to get killed near constantly, but they did still keep some of the fun aspects of the retro version in. Like the planks in Skull and Crossbones, the ones that send you flying or smack you in the face. Booby traps that I always found amusing, and I must have stepped on every single one. You can still throw Foot Soldiers at the screen, though there is no fight with Shredder now that requires it. The boss fights can be challenging and fast paced, especially if you’re playing with a friend and you want to get your timing right. It is a fun little way to pass the time, but I would not go so far as to consider it an actual game that’s worth wasting money on.
If you can swing trying it out, like I did, then by all means do so. It’s not a complete throw away, and does have some nostalgia factor going for it, even against all the disappointment attached. If you’ve never played or seen either of the orignal versions, and like the Turtles, then it might be something worth playing for yourself.