Originally released as a four-player arcade game in 1991, Turtles in Time was ported to the Super Nintendo in 1992, and is generally considered one of the best games on the SNES.
The first time I played it a few years ago with Craig (other writer) we turned it off half way through as we were both phenomenally bored. As a result we decided to not bother reviewing it as we thought we’d go back to it and give it another try before committing pen to paper.
So, how has my opinion changed in the intervening period?
You choose between the 4 Turtles, each with a slight difference: Leonardo is the all rounder, Raphael is speedy, Donatello has greater range, and Michelangelo does more damage. You do notice the differences when playing, but, you will probably end up picking the Turtle you prefer regardless of their stats.
At the end of each level you’ll fight a boss, and these are made up of all your favourites; Bebop, Rocksteady, Metalhead, Baxter Stockman, all feature. If you know and love the cartoon then you won’t be disappointed by the roster.
Errrrm, Shredder and Krang steal the Statue of Liberty, the Turtles set off through New York to get the statue back. During the assault of the Technodrome the Turtles are sent back in time to some rather bizarre moments in history.
You then work your way to the future, beat Krang, before going back to the present day to whomp Shredder.
I’ll be honest, the story doesn’t really make sense, but it makes as much sense as any Turtles TV episode, so it isn’t anything to worry about.
TiT can be hard at times, and this is really only down to the lack of recovery time. In two-player it isn’t so much of an issue as you can help each other out, but in single player, it can be VERY frustrating when the enemy daisy chain attacks on you. The Yellow Footclan that throw boomerangs, can chain 3 attacks on you, Slash (aboss) will smack the shit out of you if you’re too close, and if you allow enemies to get either side of you you’ll take a lot of punishment.
However, it never feels unfair, or like a cheap hit. It is usually your own fault if you’re trapped, and it is certainly your fault for not paying attention to boss patterns. Also, with the amount of health you have, it does allow for errors on your part to get the attack routine down. There is none of the bullshit you get in games like Streets of Rage when you fight the 2 ninja chicks, which, is a punishingly unfair and hard life eater. All boss patterns are recognisable, and basic competence will get you through without losing too many lives.
To flip all that, on hard difficulty, the first Shredder fight can feel unfair. It isn’t “hard”, but to beat Shredder you need to do the context specific “throw the enemy at the screen”. On hard difficulty the enemies are the blocking variety, so you can’t “just throw”. With the 3 constantly spawning enemies, and Shredder attacks it becomes too difficult to get a throw in. As it is context specific, and there is so much going on around you I can either piss through this in 20 seconds, or spend a very frustrating 30 minutes failing hard at it. (I think this is why me and Craig got bored the first time)
The variety in enemies is impressive and especially on the “Hard” difficulty can be tricky to navigate, especially when harder varieties start appearing earlier in the game.
The enemy AI also improves on harder difficulties, enemies no longer line up one by one, they’ll double team you and cause much higher damage. They’ll also do things like flying kick onto the screen, meaning you always need to be prepared. It means playing on harder difficulties isn’t just Enemy has more health, and turtles take more damage.
There is a limited move set, you get punch, throw, jump kicks, and a special (with variety within), so there isn’t a cool backwards attack like in Double Dragon 2 or Streets of Rage. But the constant combat makes up for this.
Unless you’re jump kicking the enemies don’t get up, so you don’t have tedious enemies like some of the women in Final Fight that’ll sit down after every punch forcing you to wait 10 seconds to hit them again.
I can complete the game in 24 minutes, and a speed run will be quicker, but you can spend an hour playing. As I mentioned, I can get stuck on the Shredder fight for 30 minutes. So times will vary depending on your competence.
So there isn’t really any negatives to the game.
TiT is certainly one of the better Beat ‘Em Ups I have played, it has a decent variety of enemies, it packs loads into a screen at any one time, the life/health is fair, health pickups are plentiful, and the only real downside is that on Hard difficulty the Shredder fight can be frustrating. All of this, mixed in with the 80s/90s Turtles universe that I love so much, means I really do love the game.
There are better games on the SNES, but TiT is still pretty awesome.
Pros: Mikey is the best Turtle, pisses on Streets of Rage, 2 player mode is fun
Cons: Shredder fight