Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game Longplay (Arcade) [60 FPS]
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Anyone growing up in the late 80’s or early 90’s is probably familiar with the eponymous heroes in a half-shell. To say that Turtles were a big deal is an understatement; I have memories of my parents being forced to make multiple trips to the nearest Toys ‘R’ Us to get a full set of the action figures for Christmas since the store would only allow customers one figure per sale!
The slew of TMNT merchandise was endless, from lunch boxes, to action figures to video games. Whilst it’s no surprise that an arcade coin-op featuring the turtles exists, TMNT: The Arcade game was a rarity for a number of reasons, not least that it was available in a deluxe and, frankly massive, cabinet that supported four-player simultaneous co-op gameplay! Provided that you had enough friends available and a suitably weighty sack of coins, it was possible to play as your favourite turtle and really sock it to Shredder, Krang and a million Foot Clan goons in this beat ’em up by Konami.
It was a commonly accepted that fact that arcade games with dedicated chips, CPUs and extended banks of memory allowed for gaming experiences that was simply out of reach of home users (SNK’s Neo Geo being a notable exception). TMNT is an especially lavish title featuring graphics, animation and sound that were far in excess of many other arcade titles of the era. Everything from the imposing cabinet, brightly-lit marquee, huge screen and sumptuous graphics was designed to attract punters like moths to a naked flame.
Having played the game, perhaps the innovation of it’s four-player co-op is also the game’s biggest shortcoming. While the first level is manageable by a single player, subsequent levels throw enemies at you in such huge quantities as to practically demand the help from additional players. The enemies are not insignificant in their ability to deal significant damage to your chosen turtle, with many of them carrying weapons that allow them to out-range any of your own attacks. Playing the game alone soon became a lesson in frustration, particularly on the hover-board level where Foot Clan soldiers piloting gyro-copters with machine guns and rockets would reduce you to pile of smouldering ash. A two-player arcade cabinet was also available, but I don’t know whether the actual game was any different to account for the reduced player count.
Despite these frustrations, the game is never less than a visual or audible treat. Whilst the graphics and animation are superb, I think that the quality of the sound and digital effects is really the stand-out feature of the game. The opening theme tune from the cartoon show that plays during the game’s attract mode is of exceptionally high quality for the time; digital effects and speech were nothing new at the time of the game’s release, but this is one of the first that sounded just like it did from the show and not like it was being played from inside a postbox, under water in a distant lake.
The game was ported to the majority of home computers of the day, including the C64, Spectrum and Amiga. Whilst attempts to bring the arcade experience to these machines were admirable, doing so and expecting the end result to be anything like the coin-op seemed like a fools errand. It wouldn’t be until Konami released the subsequent sequel, Turtles in Time, on the SNES that a true arcade experience was available to play at home.
Providing you have friends on hand, TMNT: The Arcade Game remains one of the best beat ’em up experiences around. If you’re playing solo, be prepared for frustration.