Totally Turtle Games – Turtles in Time (Arcade)
When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles proved to be an arcade smash hit for Konami, there was no choice but to follow it up with another four-player side-scrolling adventure. Released in 1991, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time brought the turtles back into the arcade for another round of Foot Clan butt kicking.
As the turtles watched April O’Neil do another news report, Krang and his giant robot body flew down from the sky to steal the Statue of Liberty. Shredder interrupts the news feed and taunts his reptilian nemeses, begging that they come after him if they dare. The boys spring into action, but upon encountering the ninja master, he sends them through a time warp. To return home and save NYC, the boys must battle through different time periods, including prehistoric, pirate, and old west levels. Eventually the turtles return to the Technodrome, where they face off against Shredder for the final time.
Hoping to capitalize on the success of the first arcade game, Turtles in Time kept most of the game play and controller functions intact. The player can control any of the four turtles and perform jumps and attacks. However, the controls can be combined to perform new and unique special attacks, such as Leonardo’s katana spin and Michelangelo’s leap forward with his nunchaku. Additionally, the enemies can now interact more with the environment, with the turtles being able to throw a Foot Soldier at other bad guys, or throw them towards the camera. Slide tackles, dash attacks, air attacks, and further special attacks simply add new elements to the game that make full use of the significant improvement in graphics and design this game underwent.
The entire cavalcade of villains returned again for this game, with Foot and Rock Soldiers rounding out the regular enemies in each level. Bosses included fan favorites like Leatherhead, Baxter Stockman, Metalhead, Cement Man, Tokka and Rahzar, Krang, and Shredder. Each appeared at the end of a level, and multiple hits could charge a power attack that would unleash extra power to bring them down and move through the game. Noticeably absent, though, were Bebop and Rocksteady, however their inclusion in the game would be rectified in other versions.
Like its predecessor, Turtles in Time found its way to the home entertainment system to add to its success. Now on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System for two players, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time featured extended game play and new modes. Two levels (“Sewer Surfin’” and “Neon Night Riders”) were changed to bonus levels only; new bosses like Rat King, Slash, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Super Shredder were added for a more in-depth experience; and more regular enemies were added, including mousers and boxing robots called Road-Kill Rodneys. In addition to the story, players could now enter a time trial mode, as well as the return of a player vs. player battle mode.
After being released, Turtles in Time was widely applauded by critics and fans. It quickly became Konami’s best-selling arcade title, and many critics loved the improved graphics, game play, and music. While many also thought that it got a bit repetitive and didn’t last long enough, overall the game was given a high B/low A rating all around. It was released again as unlockable in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, as well as alone on the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network in 2009. Due to licensing issues, it was removed from both in 2011.
Turtles in Time is called by many the best TMNT game. Whether that’s true or not, it was easily one of the best. It took a familiar franchise and added a new gimmick to continue its popularity. While the “time travel” part was rather short, and didn’t cover too many time periods (with about half the game spent in present day NYC anyway), it was still incredible fun, and fans can only hope that this game finds its way back to consoles someday soon.