Over the years, a lot of great games have been released which have little to no chance of ever being re-released for one reason or another — or several. In this series, we’re going to take a look at some of those titles which you’ll more often than not have to seek out on their console of origin (or, shall we say “other preservationist methods”) if you ever want to have a hope of playing them.
In 1989, Konami was able to capitalize on the growing popularity of both the home video game scene and the pop culture phenomenon known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In what was no doubt a lucrative partnership between Konami and property holder Mirage Studios, the Turtles saw releases across the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Super NES, SEGA Genesis, PC, arcades, and even their own LCD handhelds in a variety of genres, ranging from platformers, brawlers, fighting games, and even a Metroidvania or two. Through 1994, the company released approximately 14 different games (some ports of others) across all the major platforms.
Despite how hugely popular the games were, however, it’s tough to say whether we’ll ever see them officially released for public consumption again. Konami returned to the brand in the early aughts, but since then, the license has changed hands to Ubisoft, and again to Activision, who seemingly lost it as they delisted the digital versions of their releases in early 2017. Despite the licensing shuffle, Konami and Ubisoft did work out an agreement which saw the original NES game listed for a limited time on the Wii Virtual Console starting in 2007, albeit for 100 Wii Points more than the typical NES Virtual Console release, due to “licensing issues.”
That same year, Ubisoft managed to release a Digital Eclipse port of Konami’s original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game to Xbox Live Arcade for the low, low price of 400 Microsoft Points, though its NES port, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, would never reach the Wii. In 2009, Ubisoft seemingly reached another deal with Konami that would see the former remake the latter’s arcade hit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, for both Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store. As Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled, it would go on to be panned by fans of the original arcade and Super NES versions before going on to be delisted just over two years later.
Further complicating things is that since then, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise itself changed hands in 2009 from its original home at Mirage Studios to Viacom’s kids juggernaut, Nickelodeon. More recently, the Turtles have been revealed to be guest characters in Warner Bros. Interactive and Netherrealm Studios’ Injustice 2, but whether their deal extends beyond that appearance remains unknown.
When all is said and done, there may or may not be a fair amount of red tape for the parties involved to get through, and as we saw with the aforementioned re-releases, it’s not impossible. But whether said parties will even consider entertaining the notion is another matter altogether, especially as the franchise continues to grow in new ways, such as the upcoming Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, which promises to take the quartet (and their associates) in a drastically different direction.