Developer: Merso X
Publisher: Merso X
Cast your mind back to when you were a child. Odds are that the Ninja Turtles featured in some capacity. Of course, back then, you had an idea about what kind of awesome game you would love to see them in. Like some half remembered dream now manifest, TMNT Rescue Palooza is quite possibly that game.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a long, long history. One which starts with a dark satire comic in 1984, followed by various versions through the ensuing years with children’s cartoons, baffling toys, various live and animated movies, and much more, up until the current iteration.
TMNT Rescue Palooza is a side scrolling brawler which draws on multiple facets of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles catalogue. The many aspects of the TMNT universe are all mashed up into one game which feels as much like a love letter to the franchise as a legitimate game. This is pretty much what TMNT Rescue Palooza is, being a freely available fan creation.
In Story Mode, up to four players start the game with the four turtles. Using an overworld map reminiscent of Teenage Mutant Turtles on the NES in 1984, players can select from a variety of levels. Each one is a callback to past games or cartoon episodes.
The gameplay is straight-up retro brawler inspired. Characters can walk, run, jump, and attack. Button combinations perform special moves, for example down and attack throws your enemies. Each character also has their own special attack, which uses a meter based system. For added variety, there are a handful of vehicles which can be found and commandeered for a limited time.
Levels are populated by a multitude of adversaries. From the familiar never ending hordes of the Foot Soldiers, to Pizza Monsters, robots and more. Of course every good brawler has its bosses, and Rescue Palooza is no exception. Enemies from all across the turtle’s rogues gallery make an appearance. The classic Bebop and Rocksteady, War from Tournament Fighters, and even Tatsu from the original live action movie.
Completing a level doesn’t just progress the game. It also unlocks new playable characters, from both the turtle’s friends and allies. Ever thought Mondo Gecko, Aska, Irma and Cyber-Shredder would make a good team? Now’s your chance to find out!
After some levels Cudley the Cowlick will appear. Cudley is a trans-dimensional being from the Archie Comics run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who (perhaps unsurprisingly) looks like a floating cows head. Activating it takes players to a random bonus level, where challenges can be attempted to win additional lives.
Once you have tried Story Mode there is also an Arcade Mode, where players can pick from every character already unlocked. There are also possibly some extras that have yet to be uncovered.
The visuals are heavily retro inspired, with many sprites and levels using classic TMNT graphics as a base. Across the board these have been tidied up and reimagined, but the underlying feel of the originals are still there. While other sprites are interpretations of wider media, like the cartoons or Playmate action figures. The game is rounded out with a chip tunes musical score pulled from classic sources, as well as a handful of original pieces of music.
Being a fan made project, TMNT Rescue Palooza doesn’t need to worry about the logistics of bringing so many disparate sources together. The game heavily leans into the feel of a kid’s toybox, and this lends the game to being a celebration of the retro and nostalgic aspects of all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Sure, the gameplay is largely one dimensional. And the characters only have marginal differences in play styles. But these aspects really play a back seat to the joyous spectacle of seeing such a huge selection of classic characters thrown together. Add to this the ability to bring three other players along with a couch multiplayer aspect, and this really does become the TMNT games everyone imagined as a child.
The most outrageous thing of all is that TMNT Rescue Palooza is a well-conceived and made game that tugs heavily on all things nostalgic about the heroes in a half shell, yet is is completely free to boot! It’s a passion project that’s sure to make you relive and re-experience the joys of your youthful interests; the game is most definitely a love letter that is written both too and from the fans.
TMNT Rescue Palooza is indeed bodacious.