Previously, I spoke of how Konami managed to capitalize on the Turtle Mania that was sweeping the nation in the late 80’s and early 90’s with a series of games based on the green teens, and how the first attempt isn’t as fondly remembered as subsequent releases. This was due in no small part to how perfectly later releases managed to capture so much of what made the cartoon series of the time a hit with kids of all ages.
But while those games (primarily arcade beat ’em ups, with the Game Boy titles on the side for good measure) were great, there was admittedly a sense that maybe, just maybe, they could have been a little bit better.
After all, while Playmates was content to sell us countless versions of the fab four, they were also sure to introduce dozens upon dozens of other cool, zany, and at times, downright absurd characters to both the Turtles’ side, as well as that of the Foot Clan. But in the games, your choices were typically the same each time: Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello make up the team
with one other fellow, Raphael. But when you’ve got the likes of Metalhead, Casey Jones, Splinter, and even the Rat King and Slash on store shelves and in toy chests, who could possibly be satisfied by the core TMNT alone?
Enter: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rescue-Palooza!”
This fan game from Merso X is styled after the arcade game — or rather, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES, if you prefer) port of the arcade game, as well as its sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project. However, the graphics are updated somewhat — the pixel art is similar to what you saw on the NES, but with colors that make it more in line with the arcade and Super NES games.
Remember how 8-bit games like Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man were given the enhanced 16-bit treatment in Ninja Gaiden Trilogy on the Super NES and Mega Man: The Wily Wars on the SEGA Genesis, largely retaining the same essence of the originals, but with more colors? Basically like that, plus remixed music from the show and previous games, and even voice samples taken from the cartoon.
What’s more, this title is dripping — oozing, if you will — with fanservice, particularly for fans of the original 1987 cartoon and early video games. As you play, you’ll unlock all sorts of characters who you can then play as: April O’Neil, Bebop, Rocksteady, Metalhead, Chromedome, Slash, and many more, each with their own moves and stats for movement, range, power, and so on. Better still is there are some stages based on the original NES game, complete with redrawn versions of the enemies therein, and characters you can likewise accumulate, such as the original Mecha Turtle.
Unfortunately, the game isn’t quite perfect, as it has some issues we can only hope to see addressed with further updates. The most egregious is that while the game purports to support controllers, neither my wired Xbox 360 nor connected Xbox One controller (which work on other games) saw any response from the game. I’m not alone in this, it seems, as a number of people on the game’s Game Jolt page have noted the same issue with these controllers and others. You can still play with the keyboard, but I personally found it a bit awkward to do so; possible, but not preferable.
That leads into one other issue: The game is coin-op tough, and while they are kind enough to offer a save system and nine lives to start, loading a file after will only give you two lives. That’s kind of brutal, especially when you’re trying to adjust to the less-than-ideal input method.
Still, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rescue-Palooza!” is definitely worth a look. Chock full of fanservice and funny to boot, you can’t really beat the price of “free.” If you’d like to try the game out for yourself, you can download it here.
Incidentally, if Merso X’s game leaves you hungry for more, you can find many other fan games, ranging from ThunderCats to Masters of the Universe to Power Rangers, on their website here.