Retro Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

Platform: Super Nintendo

Released: 1992

Publisher: Konami

Developer: Konami

For my next series of gameplay videos and reviews I’ve decided to take a look at comic book videogames, so strap yourself in and shout “Cowabunga” as we get stuck into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time on the Super Nintendo.

I was a huge fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid! In fact most (if not all) of my friends watched the cartoon on television. Even if you didn’t watch the cartoon back in the day, I’m sure you can remember that the version we watched in the UK was called Hero Turtles rather than Ninja Turtles, as Ninja was deemed far too violent for our sensitive eyes and ears. Never mind that I grew up watching Ninja movies like the American Ninja series, Prey for Death, and Ninja Terminator, so removing it from a cartoon seemed a little strange!

There was also the controversy that one of the turtles used Nunchucks as a weapon which ended up being censored. This has always puzzled me. The other Turtles are armed with swords, a wooden staff and Sai, so I guess it’s ok to go around stabbing and clubbing people to death shouting, “I’M A HERO NOT A NINJA”!? The Nunchucks would often be changed to show them as sticks with the chain removed or as a link of sausages!

Despite these baffling changes it didn’t stop the cartoon being something you couldn’t wait to watch after school. The excellent movie from 1990 was even better and brought the Turtles to the big screen with a bang. Come to think of it, I was a bit mad for the Turtles and even owned the soundtrack from the movie. I can still remember how happy I was that Turtle Power by Partners in Kryme got to number 1 in the UK charts.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years, the Turtles themselves are called Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello who are trained by their rat master called Splinter. They were normal household Turtles until an encounter with some radioactive ooze turned them into the shell kicking, pizza loving dudes we’ve come to know and love.

There have been a number of games featuring the Turtles but my favourites have to be the arcade game by Konami and Turtles in Time on the SNES. One of my proudest memories growing up was going to Butlins in Minehead and completing the Turtles arcade game with my friend Simon. At 20p a go we must have spent a small fortune of our pocket money to complete it, but we had come too far to give up. Upon seeing the congratulations credits I recall turning to the man sitting in the small booth who provided you with change (this is now done by machines) and saying proudly, “we’ve just completed the Turtles arcade game.” I half expected him to press a button which would unleash dozens of balloons and streamers as a huge ‘CONGRATULATIONS’ sign appeared above our heads! In reality he glanced at me and said, “oh”, but his lacklustre reply didn’t take the shine off our glorious victory.

Although there were home computer ports of the Turtles arcade, it wouldn’t be until the release of Turtles in Time on the SNES that I felt that there was a true version of the arcade game that I loved.

Turtles in Time gives you and a friend the opportunity to play as your favourite Turtle as you travel through time fighting the evil Foot clan and various well known characters from the cartoon. Your journey takes you through a series of fun and inventive levels including prehistoric times and the wild west.

Both the arcade and SNES games are very similar in terms of their graphics, sound and gameplay, but I think the Super Nintendo version is probably my favourite out of the two. As I’ve written many times before, Konami created some of the best arcade games in the 80’s & 90’s and their success carried on with the introduction of home consoles.

One of the improvements the SNES had over the arcade game is the use of Mode 7. For many (myself included) Mode 7 was what helped to make the Super Nintendo feel more superior when compared to the Sega Megadrive. Basically it is a 3D effect that helped to give games depth, which made them feel like they were moving in and out of the screen. The use of Mode 7 in Turtles in Time is subtle but it is used effectively. For example, when you throw an enemy at the screen it almost feels like they are going to smash through the television and land in your living room!

The other thing I love about Turtles in Time is the music and graphics with each level feeling really inventive and a visual treat for your eyes. The animation of each character is excellent and there is always something happening in the background to keep your attention. The music could be lifted straight from the cartoon and is a variation on the famous (and very catchy) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme tune.

The only downside to Turtles in Time is that it can be completed in under an hour on easy difficulty, but on the plus side at least it doesn’t give you time to get bored.

Turtles in Time is an excellent side scrolling beat em up which made you feel proud to be a Super Nintendo owner. It holds a special place in my heart because I loved the arcade game, so owning this cartridge felt like I was bringing an authentic arcade experience into my bedroom.

Graphics – Brilliant and colourful with superb animation. There is always something happening on screen to keep you entertained. 9

Sound – Catchy upbeat tunes that sound like they have come from the cartoon which helps to make this feel like an authentic Turtles adventure. 8

Playability – Superb fun that will keep you and a friend entertained throughout. 7

Re-Playability – Although I don’t hold Turtles in Time in the same regard as Golden Axe, Streets of Rage 2 or Final Fight, I still manage to find the time to replay it every now and then. 7

Overall – Turtles in Time is a cracking game which perfectly captures the mood and tone of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Brilliant music, fantastic colourful graphics and fun gameplay means the game still holds up 25 years after its original release. 8

Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)