Written by Paul Monopoli
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
System: Amstrad CPC
First thing’s first: The Teenage Mutant WHAT Turtles? Well in certain parts of the world, most notably the UK, the word Ninja was not seen as something that should be associated with a childrens cartoon. Consequently the word Hero replaced the word Ninja. This carried across to all ports of this game released in these territories & the arcade game itself. For this review we’ll be calling it TMNT because that’s how I roll. Now with that out of the way let’s get started…
Back when the TMNT arcade game came out everyone was anticipating ports to all the popular systems of the day. What we got was this…
Being released across all mainstream systems the TMNT platformer was met with mixed reviews. A lot of people were happy they could control their heroes in a half shell, but at the same time were disappointed that it wasn’t the arcade game. I fell in the earlier crowd & loved this game when it first came out, but there was that lingering disappointment that it wasn’t a side scrolling beat em up. Looking back 20 years later has my opinion changed? Let’s have a look at the game & find out.
The first thing to mention is that the Amstrad version is a little different to other versions of the game, so let’s cover that first. The main differences are:
– The Turtles cannot kill Foot Soldiers while above ground in the overhead view
– The Turtles cannot swing their weapons up & down
– Donatello’s staff doesn’t have a back swing that was useful for killing enemies behind you
Obviously there are other smaller differences from version to version, but those are the main ones you’ll notice right away.
With these limited controls you would think this would hamper the gameplay, but if you think that you’d be wrong. Yes the ability to swing your weapon up & down would help in certain situations, but I didn’t find myself missing it. The Amstrad version doesn’t lay on enemies as thick as the NES version, so without the ability to swing up & down you just have to get used to timing & moving around a bit more than other versions.
With the NES (& most other conversions) each Turtle was unique. Raphael had the shortest weapon & was useless while Donatello had the longest & was used the most (& normally died first). With this game all 4 Turtles are the same & their weapons swing out the SAME distance. So Donatello has a very short Bo staff & Raphael has very long Sai. The only reason for changing Turtles is purely so you can use your favourite. Some people may find the lack of individuality between Turtles disappointing, but Amstrad Action weren’t all that bothered by it back when they reviewed it & neither was I… back then. Today it seems a bit pointless but at least I can use Raphael (my favourite) all through the game.
A lot of the enemies from the other versions have been replaced. Mousers are no longer present, the chainsaw guy is gone, & Bebop isn’t even in the game. Instead you fight Rocksteady twice, first when you’re in the sewer attempting to rescue April, & the second time when you actually DO rescue April. Lazy programming, or system limitations? I’m leaning towards the former myself…
Well you’ll never end up seeing Bebop, because…
… the ONLY villain in the game other than Shredder & the Technodrome is Rocksteady…
The graphics are bright & colourful, though like most Amstrad games you play in a reduced screen. When you’ve played enough Amstrad games you get used to this so I wasn’t really affected by it. The jumps are really easy. Anyone who has seen the Angry Video Game Nerd’s review of the NES version will remember him ranting about the dodgy jumps. With this version the jumps are timed. What I mean by this is that your jumps take roughly 2 seconds regardless of what height you jump from. If you jump from a place close to the ceiling you will stay in the air for the full 2 seconds & can move along rather than hitting the ceiling & dropping back down in frustration.
The controls are spot on whether you use the keyboard, CPC+ / GX4000 controller or a regular joystick. For some reason I prefer to use the keyboard… It’s just personal preference I suppose.
The lack of animation with the characters is very noticable. The Turtles running is nicely animated, but when they swing their weapons it’s a quick 1 frame change & then back again. Rocksteady & Shredder have no animation frames whatsoever & just float around the screen. Your normal enemies have a couple of frames for them to walk around, but that’s it.
Another thing to note is the lack of sound. During the game there is no music at all, though the title screen has a dodgy sounding beat playing. When you see Shredder on the screen before the game starts you get that grinding noise as the text appears, a similar grinding noise takes place when the Turtles use their weapons, or when the Turtle Van runs over something or shoots, but that’s it as far as the sound goes.
I can’t review this game without mentioning the underwater scene where you need to disarm the bombs. It’s actually very easy on the Amstrad version & has none of the headaches the NES version offered. There’s no electric weeds & tight spaces. You just have to avoid the electrodes & go through them when they switch off.
One positive thing I would like to mention is the box art. Here’s a closeup of the Amstrad boxart:
Let’s compare it to the NES box art:
Yes it’s true to how the Turtles looked back in the 80s comics, but this wasn’t the early 80s & this game wasn’t designed as a video game version of the comics. The content in the game clearly shows that it is based off the cartoon, which is what the image for the Amstrad box art represents. As you’ll notice above the Amstrad version did use the NES box art image as the title screen.
One memorable thing about the game is the manual. Who remembers the brown paper in the middle pages with the codes written in black? All the home computer versions had this same manual. I found it REALLY difficult to read those codes today. I don’t know if it’s because something has happened to the colour of the manual, or it’s the lighting in my house, but it wasn’t a fun experience. That was back in the days where various types of copy protection were used.
With all the limitations in the game you’d think this is actually worse than the other versions available, but I personally find it better. The simpler controls, less overload of enemies & better jumps make this version of the game stand out. At the same time it’s not a great game, let’s be perfectly blunt here. It was a disappointment when it first came out on any system regardless of how much you enjoyed it & it hasn’t aged well. As for this version, there’s no Bebop, the main bosses that are present just float around & don’t actually attack & there’s no music. Personally I feel this was rushed out to market so it could be released at the same time as the other versions.
I give this one 72%