Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
System(s): NES, Genesis, SNES

 

 

 

 

Many games can be considered “cross-platform” in that they came out for multiple systems, but very few can boast the differences between versions as much as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. A fighting game using the Turtles is pretty much a no brainer. There are hundreds of characters to choose from between the original comics, the 80’s cartoon and the Archie comics of the time period but why they chose to put unique characters into each game is beyond me. And not just a unique set of characters, but a unique story line as well.

Because of that it’s difficult to really review these as 1 game so I will break them down into shorter reviews of their various incarnations.

NES


It would have made a surpreme amount of sense to offset how terrible this version of Konami’s last NES game was by adding characters that would have increased the draw to play this. Instead you can only play a total of seven characters (the 4 Turtles, Casey Jones, Shredder, and Hothead who is based on the Dragon Warrior character from the Archie comics), likely due to system limitations and 2 of those characters are available on other versions.

 

The version for this system comes after games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 2 have already set a precident in the fighting game genre. Simply put: the NES’s 2-button controller simply can’t compete with the complexity of some of the moves you will try (usually in vain) to pull off. Apparently the difficulty of doing real fighting moves was offset by the red ball that shows up out of nowhere; a ball you can use to just toss like a projectile until the other person ultimately falls. The controls are clunky at best and outright infuriating at worst. Don’t bother trying to learn the moves, you’ll get schooled by the computer while you’re fumbling around.

Genesis


At 8 characters this version started to offer a little uniqueness in the characters adding in April, Ray Fillet, Casey Jones and a unique beetle character named Sisyphus. The story, however, was essentially non-existent, having the player jump from planet to planet beating on opponents in an attempt to save Splinter from Krang. One thing it did have going for it was the added boss characters of a Triceraton, the Rat King and Karai from the original run of the comics.

 

Gameplay was exactly like that of Street Fighter 2, but added a taunt feature that could prove to be fun . In addition the stages could be slightly expanded by destroying interactive pieces of the scenery which added to the unique quality but overall the game was incredibly basic.

 

 

SNES


The most robust version of the three, the Super Nintendo version had 10 playable characters spanning many Turtles’ universes. Along with the Turtles and Shredder you had Archie comics’ War, Armaggon, and Wingnut, Chrome Dome from the animated series,and a unique character named Aska. Further making it unique of the three were the ability to change the speed and power of your character, a story mode, and a special move gage.

 

Visually pretty and taking the best of Street Fighter into its fold, the Super Nintendo version had little it seemed to be missing. Although I have to admit, just combining everything into one thoroughly robust game would have been much nicer. Why hasn’t anyone made a new Turtles fighting game?

 

 

About the Comic
When I heard about a Ninja Turtles fighting game I thought about how bad ass it would be to play as Splinter. I mean, he was the Turtles’ sensei, their master, the best fighter in the whole TMNT universe. And yet with 3 completely different versions of the game, each with their own set of playable characters, none of them chose to use the obvious choice. Kanomi even went so far as to create solely unique characters for the game while bypassing the best character any of the games could offer.

A funny thing happened in the making of this comic, in fact. When I sent the strip over to Jeff I wasn’t entirely clear on which characters should show up on each side and with him not being familiar with the game instead of War and Wingnut he had Bebop and a Foot soldier; neither of which are playable characters in the game. It’s a perfectly reasonable expectation to have a character like Bebop at least as an option somewhere in the game but that’s another shining example of familiar characters that would have been fun to play being replaced with obscure, or in some instances completely made up, ones.

Recommendations
Clayfighter 63 1/3
If you like random pop-culture characters thrown into fighting games, then this one is for you. You have your standard assortment of characters from this unique franchise to choose from, but we also get to see Interplay game veterans Boogerman and Earthworm Jim in claymation fighting glory. While the game itself brings little new to the fighting game genre’s table other than its claymation style, the novelty of beating on people as Earthworm Jim was, for me, enough of a draw to give it a shot.