There were a lot of cartoons in the late 80’s early 90’s that lived and died with that era. Truth be told, most of them deserve to be left behind. However, if there is one franchise from that era that is still hanging on even today, it has to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). As of this writing, Nickelodeon is currently airing Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is itself a relaunch of their own 2012 TMNT animated series. There have also been two live action movies released in 2014 and 2016, both produced by Michael Bay. So clearly the franchise is still going strong. However, it’s unlikely that it will ever reach the same level of fame as it had during its original 1987 Animated Series run.
Based on a comic by the same name, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows four anthropomorphic turtles living in New York City and fighting crime. During the late 80’s, the animated series was one of the most popular shows in its demographic. It spawned countless toys, multiple movies, and the “Coming Out of Their Shells” touring rock concert. So not everything was perfect. It also pumped out a rather large number of video games spanning multiple systems. Today, we are going to take a look at the first of those games to hit the Gameboy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan. Being that this is a Gameboy game, I’m not going in expecting much. However, it is also a Konami game, and they were definitely at a high point during the early 90’s. No point sitting here wondering about it, let’s dive in and see what the game has to offer!
The game begins with the thinnest of plots. April has been kidnapped and it’s up to the turtles to go save her.
Before we actually get to play, we’re given a choice of who we want to play as. Personally, I have always loved Donatello. Partially because he was the smartest, but also because his staff has the longest reach of any of the weapons.
Since it’s a Gameboy game, the controls are rather limited. One button attacks, and the other jumps. That’s going to be pretty much the whole game right there. They can also throw a ninja star if they attack from a crouch, but we’ll rarely use it. That’s because most of the enemies die in one hit. This makes it easy to manage the enemies even when they do start coming from every direction.
Occasionally after defeating enemies, they will drop pizza which will restore the turtle’s health. They don’t show up too often though, so as always, it’s best to simply not take a lot of damage.
After defeating enough generic Foot Ninjas, Donatello reaches the end of the first section and ascends to the heavens. This somehow drops him off in the sewers where he needs to fight even more Foot Ninjas.
One thing that I do appreciate in this stage is that gaps of water are not instant death pits. But then I’m annoyed because I can’t identify whatever this black hole looking thing is supposed to be. I’m guessing it’s supposed to be a rolling barrel, but it doesn’t have any animation. It just bounces across screen exactly as you see it in the screenshot.
This stage does however introduce a couple new enemies like the random bats and the iconic Mouser robots.
Eventually, Donatello finds an exit and jumps back out to the streets of New York City. This section is very similar to the first section, except that now there will be the occasional group of Foot Ninjas trying to run us over on their oversized motorcycle.
Once we learn we can’t destroy the motorcycles, it becomes easy enough to simply jump over them when we see them coming. However, the game does start to ramp up the number of enemies on screen at the same time around this time.
We continue defeating all the ninjas that come our way until once again Donatello jumps up into the sky and somehow ends up in the sewers. This is exactly like the last time we were in the sewers except that now there will be the occasional falling brick that we have to watch out for.
This time, when we make it to the end of the stage, Donatello doesn’t do anything. It confused me for a second until I saw that arrow pointing at a couple of barrels. Looks like we’ll have to destroy them if we want to finish the level.
Walking through the newly opened hole in the wall, we must now face off against the rhinoceros like mutant Rocksteady. On paper, it looks like we’re at a huge disadvantage since Rocksteady brought a machine gun and Donatello only has basically a stick. However, those are the slowest bullets ever and Donatello can easily swat them out of the sky.
On top of that, Rocksteady is incredibly stupid. Besides shooting his gun, the only other thing he does is slowing walk towards Donatello’s staff. If we just stand there spamming the attack button, this battle is easily won.
As we transition into stage 2, we are given a single screen of story where Donatello hears April screaming. We are also given a chance to select a different turtle to play is if we want to. But we’ll stay with Donatello for now.
The second stage has us fighting our way through a generic factory. On top of the random enemies we’ll have to fight off, we’ll also have to be aware of the occasionally hydraulic press that could crush us if we’re not careful.
The factory seems to be in some state of disrepair and there will be the occasional falling brick for us to avoid as well. There will also be more of those roaming black holes trying to kill us. If only they would take out the Foot Ninjas on their way through the factory.
Before long we find ourselves running across rows of those hydraulic presses we were avoiding just moments ago. There also seem to be some living fireballs inhabiting the pools of oil on the floor. Speaking of which, these oil pools actually do hurt if we land in them, unlike the water from the sewers.
Death Count: 1
Climbing out of the oil slick, we press forward into the factory, eventually coming to a set of stairs. At the top is an opening, but Donatello chooses instead to jump through the ceiling. This ended up being a terrible mistake, because mutant warthog Bebop was waiting in the next room. Since we made some terrible mistakes on the way here, Donatello had only a single point of health left, and Bebop managed to rush him from behind before we even knew what happened.
With that, Donatello is captured by the Foot Clan and one of the other turtles is going to have to take up the fight. Being the leader of the group, I chose to go with Leonardo next.
Leonardo gets to start the stage right where Donatello left off, in the battle with Bebop. So first thing we do is jump before he can hit us in the back again. From here, we have a much harder fight on our hands. Bebop is much faster than Rocksteady was. On top of that, whatever gun that is he is shooting can’t be deflected like Rocksteady’s bullets.
We manage to jump over him when he rushes us, and get him from behind a few times. Unfortunately, Bebop also manages to shoot Leonardo quite a few times during the fight. Eventually it came down to each of them having only a single point of health left. The battle could have gone either way, but Leonardo ended up getting his attack in first and winning the fight.
As the battle comes to an end, the turtles (including Donatello who is currently captured) jump out of the sewers in time to see the Foot Clan drive away with April.
Needing to follow then, the turtles jump onto passing trucks and start running across their roofs. However, the Foot Ninjas aren’t just going to sit back and watch them do this. They start fighting us on top of the trucks, and occasionally throw Tetris blocks at us that the trucks were transporting.
Death Count: 2
After a short chase, we come against the next boss battle against… fly man? Let me check google real quick…OH! This is Baxter Stockman, the inventor of the Mouser robots. Why do I not remember him being turned into a fly monster? In my confusion, it looks like I also allowed him to defeat Leonardo. So now we’re down to 2 turtles.
Switching to Raphael, we quickly find a strategy that works against Stockman. He always heads to the corner of the screen to launch his attack, so we simply have to jump towards the opposite corner to avoid it. Then when he swoops down, we meet him in the middle to attack.
Just repeat this pattern a few times, and Baxter Stockman is quickly defeated. Unfortunately, we were too late to save April, and it looks like they have taken her to the river now.
Diving in after them, we find ourselves fighting not only the river current and the Foot Ninjas trying to stop us, but also flesh eating fish that to the best of my knowledge are not native to New York Rivers. Thankfully we can escape the fish with the aid of the various logs floating down the river. Unfortunately we’re heading upstream, so we don’t want to spend too much time on these logs.
Eventually we run out of logs to run across and are forced to wade through the river. No sooner do we touch the river bottom are we surrounded by enemies. We manage to fight most of them off, but one of the fish manage to latch onto Raphael’s arm and won’t let go.
As soon as the opportunity presents itself, we leave the river and follow the Foot Ninjas into a cave area. This quickly proves to have been a mistake. The cave is swarming with Foot Ninjas, Mousers, strange flying spike orbs, as well as those roaming black holes that I assume are supposed to be barrels.
Death Count: 3
Raphael does his best to fight his way through, but ultimately he is defeated. April’s fate now rests in the hands of the immature Michelangelo.
Death Count: 4
Picking up where Raphael left off, Michelangelo quickly makes his way through the cave. Unfortunately for him, it is none other than the Shredder himself waiting at the end. Michelangelo gets a few good hits in, but the Shredder is simply too powerful. Capable of teleporting around the field, he was able to quickly defeat the turtle, and in the process seal April’s fate.
So naturally, this is a game over for us. However, Konami did something pretty neat with this game. On the start screen, we are actually allowed to pick whatever stage we want to start the game on, and just go from there. So selecting stage 4, we can pick up the game back at the river with all 4 turtles and hopefully this time save April.
Death Count: 5
Starting once again with Donatello, we make quick work of the level, flying through the river and cave sections without much trouble. Sadly, we make little progress in our attempts to defeat Shredder once we encounter him, and Donatello is once again captured.
Switching on to Leonardo, the sword wielding leader of the group is a batter match for the Shredder. Leonardo takes his fair share of hits, and they both are down to a single point of health left. But Leonardo manages to get his strike in first and defeat the Shredder once and for all.
After the defeat of the Shredder, we find ourselves standing in front of the Technodrome. Surely this is where they are keeping April. We fight our way inside and as expected it is filled with Foot Ninjas. However, it is also filled with Robotic Unicycles (aka Roadkill Rodney) that will electrocute the turtles with their metal whips. What makes these enemies so terrible, however, is the fact that they are the only non-boss enemies that can’t be killed in a single hit.
Death Count: 6
Between the foot soldiers, the Mousers, random electric beams, turtle seeking missiles, and Robotic Unicycles, it just becomes too much and Leonardo is captured.
Death Count: 12
Sadly, neither Raphael nor Michelangelo manage to make any further progress through the Technodrome either. I’m actually a bit ashamed to say it, but we go through an additional full set of turtles after those two before we see any additional progress.
Time to relax, take a deep breath and focus. We’re trying to rush, and that clearly isn’t helping anything, especially in this game. That’s because the enemy attacks aren’t random. They are on a strict pattern based on progress. If we simply inch forward rather than rush, we can easily keep the enemy count down to one or two enemies at a time. Completely manageable.
With our new slower pace, we finally make it through the first area and into the next, which appears to be a rather nondescript hallway. It is of course filled with enemies every couple of steps, but most of the obstacles from the previous section are gone. Instead, we need to be aware of rather large spiked platforms that come flying across the screen occasionally.
There were a few spots where perhaps I was starting to rush again, and ended up surrounded by enemies. But in general, this second area was relatively uneventful, bordering on boring. It is completely flat the whole way with only the occasional spike pillar to break up the enemies.
When we finally make it to the end of the hallway, we are faced with the final boss of the game, Krang, the brain-like alien inside its exo-suit body. Normally this would be an intimidating battle, but I found an unfortunate weakness in Krang’s attack. Apparently Krang’s stubby little legs are too short to reach us if we just stand in the corner.
Donatello’s staff, however, is plenty long enough to hit Krang every time he comes close enough. So all we had to do was stand in the corner attacking and wait for Krang to simply walk into our attacks. Before long, Krang is defeated and vanishes into another dimension.
Having defeated all of the bosses, the Foot Clan is defeated. With that, the turtles manage to save April, and the game is won. The end.
Gameplay – 8 / 10
Gameplay wise, it was pretty good considering the Gameboy only has the 2 buttons. The turtles respond quickly, and control very well. However, there wasn’t really much to the game as a whole. With nearly all the enemies dying in a single hit, it felt like it was only a step up from a Game & Watch type game. Honestly, the one big complaint had as far as gameplay was that there was no option to attack upwards. A lot of the Foot Ninjas jumped downwards at the turtles in such a steep angle that they basically landed on their heads. It would have been nice to attack upwards in those instances.
Graphics – 6 / 10
The graphics in general I thought were very nice. All the character sprites were rather large and detailed. Likewise, most of the backgrounds were beautifully done. However, it was very inconsistent. Yes the first stage was wonderful with the gray shading of the bricks, the posters, little tuffs of grass, and the skyline in the background. But then you have that last hallway that had a floor pattern and literally nothing else. Also there are very few frames of animation for any of the characters. Match that with the fact that the turtles generally stay center of the screen, and once again the game feels like a Game & Watch game.
Audio – 8 / 10
For a Gameboy game, the audio was pretty good. The music was rather pleasing, and they did a good job recreating the theme song. There weren’t a whole lot of extra sound effects though, but I guess there also weren’t a whole lot of elements to the game either that required sound effects. So overall well done audio.
Story – 5 / 10
The story is a bit flat, as you can see. April has been kidnapped, and the turtles need to go rescue her. They did make at least some effort though with the little story cards in between stages, so they get credit for that.
Total Playtime – 0h 46m
It’s a rather short game. If I hadn’t lost focus towards the end, I could have easily finished the game in under half an hour.
Total Deaths – 12 Deaths
12 deaths is actually a bit embarrassing for this game. It’s not a very hard game, especially once you learn the tricks for fighting the boss battles. Go slow and take your time, and I’d say it’s easily possible to finish the game without ever dying.
Overall Score – 7 / 10
As a TMNT fan, this was a fun game. Admittedly, there isn’t really much to the game, but that’s ok. Most Gameboy games are kind of on the short side, so it gets a bit of a pass in that regard. Looking past the short length, it did a lot of things right. The sprites were big and detailed, the music was nice, and the gameplay was fast pasted and hectic without being overly difficult. I also do appreciate the level select option right on the start menu for people like me who can’t finish the game with only one set of turtles. All that being said, I can’t ignore the fact that there isn’t much game to be had. If you’re not already a TMNT fan, there really isn’t anything here for you. However, if you are a TMNT fan, it’s a fun little game that’s worth giving it a chance.
You copping a feel there Mikey?
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