Guest Blog by Todd M @The Top Loader
Cowabunga! Too soon right? Well before talking video games let me first take you back in time so I can paint you a picture of my childhood, even without the help of any renaissance painters. If you look up close you will see images of four pizza eating turtles carrying around a half shell - oh and did I mention - they have a splash of green. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were walking talking ninja stars and it was turtle-mania as they defined my generation's pop culture. Sure there have been other properties that have come and gone in and out of our screens over the years, even the likes of the still popular Pokemon came out of the wild to take a good shot to reach the same heights of the turtles at their peak popularity.. but slightly missed, maybe they should've equipped the X accuracy. Their faces were everywhere as they left their turtle tracks behind for generations to follow in the years to come. It's hard to explain to anyone that wasn't there how big they were at the time. For me personally the turtle effect was unmatched, I had the lunch box, I collected the coins, the cards, and even had the costume, I ate their strange tasting ice cream and I vowed never to take shredders advice and dine on turtle soup, I had the board game - that broke - bought the figurines and of course the video games. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time on the SNES is one of the pinnacle Super Nintendo titles.
Sit down, turn off your turtle-comm and eat a celebratory jelly bean pizza - no wonder they were green - and let's kick shell as the Tm-N-T explode onto the scene like their Dynamite. But there's more explosions than that to look out for since Krang straight away has his eyes set on you and he is beaming, and so am I because I am playing Turtles In Time. There were games before and after this one but for me this is what I come back to the most. Playing in the back yard was one thing but playing the arcade game made me feel like I was right there in the action with them. Many of my favourite characters from the cartoon made the jump into sixteen bits as it includes Leatherhead, Metalhead and lets not forget ol' tin faced Shred head himself, but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves as there are many minor characters to get in the way in your travels as The Foot were made for walking and that's just what they will do, so be careful as they were built to come right after you.
Waggle that stick and press my buttons as these mousers have a mind like a steal trap but I certainly don't have any Alley Cat Blues because, man I love being a turtle. April's evening news shows us that The Statue of Liberty is at stake as Krang the bloated bean bag swiftly comes in and fly's away with it. A class in action is called as we are dropped at the very top of a construction building swatting fly's that bother me as Baxter tries to terminate the turtles but, since he blows we continue working our way down through the streets but can't seem to catch a break even when surfin' those sewers. The Rat King is hiding out at the back of the sewer and luckily for Splinter himself he is only to be seen making a cameo as he encourages you to hurry up and attack a case of some killer pizzas turned monsters, sounds like a plot from an old 50's movie but this is the New York city sewer after all who knows what lies beneath as you keep digging because eventually you will stumble across the Technodrome.
Playing the arcade game I can hear voices and see more light effects shed into the scenes but, it doesn't matter who turned out the lights in the port as the arcade falls a little short compared to the The Super NES. It has a few improvements and even an Extra level thrown onto our screens which is exactly what you have to do if you want to keep out of the cross hairs and take Shredder down from above, but before he sends the turtles back through time lets do the time warp again as I can recall my memories of the first home versions we all got to play of any TMNT game. I had the commodore 64 version which was the same game released for the NES except for the long loading times through the disk drive I had to put up with. Well, at least we had moved on from loading up tape cassettes which puts modern day mandatory installations and system updates to shame, yeh kids you have it good. I was hoping The first TMNT game we brought home would be more like the original arcade game .. and this was not as it left me a little shell shocked, dazed and confused. It was decent enough and I certainly convinced myself it was better than it actually was, but just like their ice cream I knew it wasn't good .. but I ate it anyway. Anything with the turtles face slapped onto it back then us kids just ate it up. That game for good or for bad will always have a special place for me, but lets face it the only reason why it is still remembered today is because of the turtle branding.
Michelangelo was always my favourite turtle and when it came to my costume of choice he was always first of the rack, Raphael was up there too with his quick wit and fun attitude - they were the party dudes - but unfortunately with their short end of weaponry choice it was Leonardo and Donatello who got first pick in the gaming world as they always had just what you needed to get a little further with their longer weapons, now who says size doesn't matter huh. But since we are now stuck in a time loop, size suddenly does matter as we are now up against the Dino riders and prehistoric rock soldiers who reside in those cave's that can feel a little creepy. Slash the turtle tags in for Cement Man on the cliff side of Mt. Shredders carved out face in the home port which requires you to bounce around his barrel rolls as he seems to rush more with every hit, these turtles really know how to party like its B.C. 2500000000. As you spin into the next stage and find your sea legs you will find there is no time to bury your shell in the sand at the wounded knee, as I am more worried about my wounded toes that walk the planks that throw you into some serious hang time, which is totally bogus dude. Rocksteady and Bebop finally make their way into the game but typically only end up dueling with each other.
As that ship sails the Foot are now full steam ahead as they slip on the boots and travel by train as I can see the sunset riders in the distance accompanied by Konami's always catchy music, a requirement that is the true Konami code. As the turtles fast forward to the future you would be forgiven for thinking you were playing a horizontal version of F-Zero as you Scroll along with the mode 7 neon night lights in the sky, but wait up there .. it's - Super Krang - the weirdo's always come out at night. This truly is where no turtle has gone before as you reach the Starbase command and beware the bouncing bowling balls from outta space, and no you're not watching another old Sci-Fi movie but do stay tuned in as you have to watch out for those ice traps or you might get iced iced baby .. yeh, don't go there .. unless you want to get frozen but unfortunately you can't go around so you will just have to let it go - now I'm too cool - as the turtles would say. After fighting off Krang and the kids you find Shredder who must of found the Secret of the Ooze in his back pocket as he turns into Super Shredder with his super long energy bar, and I really need an energy drink after that. If you're playing in the arcades it will be Shredder with a light sabre as he tries to defeat those green slime balls, and no he does not reveal that he is their father even though the setting would fit.
When I was eight years old I was inspired by the TMNT to write my own comic strip about four mutated rabbits that also coincidentally ate pizza and around the same time I can remember the Samurai Pizza Cats cartoon - to which I had no involvement. What a great time to invest in Pizza Hut especially if they delivered in a turtle van, but mutant turtles that traveled through time sounded like the best idea ever and guess what it still is! In this day and age some may play thorough this game and find parts repetitive, but for me it's so full of charm and charisma that you kind of forget about it. It certainly never needed to be re-shelled but the turtles have been around long enough to see many changes over the years as the TMNT are a product for generations to come. They may have started with my mine but I know It won't end with mine as it is constantly passed onto the next. There is something special about these four turtles that have made their mark in pop culture history as they have lasted the test of time finding themselves still relevant today, and that is true... Turtle Power.
Guest Blog by Todd M @The Top Loader
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