When I was a kid, I often went to the Arcade and threw in a few quarters. I didn't spend nearly as much time on the Arcade version. You see, in 1992, the game actually came to the Super Nintendo and that's when I got it and played through with my brother. And we loved the game. Choosing our favorite turtle. And the fact that it looked just like the show added to our enjoyment. It was short, sweet but had a lot of heart. It was simple... and fun. We conquered it on all the difficulty settings, competed with each other for high scores and everything. In terms of being just a fun game to pass the time... you could easily pass half an hour with Turtles in Time. This is 1992, we're talking about. Games weren't nearly as long. The classic "beat-em up" formula was quite popular. Even today you'd be crazy to expect more than an hour or so of gameplay from these types of games.
There are two truths to this, however. The first is that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time... still kicks ass. Especially if you actually played it in the early 90's when this formula was popular. The second truth is that the Beat 'Em Up hasn't aged well. This reissue on the XBOX Live Arcade isn't exactly as fun for the reason being that it fails to revive memories or improve. YOu must understand that to this day, I still plug in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV and still play through it with friends and my brother alike. So of course, when I heard it was coming to the XBOX Live Arcade I was quite excited about it. I wanted to relive one of my favorite SNES games re-envisioned for the better. That didn't quite happen, actually. There are graphical enhancements, sure, but the graphics were what were already perfect to begin with (they're updated now to better coincide with that awful movie released in 2007). But more than that, they based it on the Arcade version. And while the Arcade version was good, part of the reason it was superior on the SNES was because of certain changes and making new additions. So now only are we not getting the superior version, but you're getting a game that probably isn't suited for 2009.
I'm a purist of sorts. If a game is made in 1992 you need to review it as though it was made in 2009. And I still hold firm to that. Because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time is still a fun game. If you're nostalgic. And I very much am. Like I said... 17 years later (18 if we're talking Arcade) and I still play it from time to time. To this day I still consider this the greatest Turtles game ever made.
So why would I be upset at seeing a game come to the XBOX Live Arcade and being enhanced? Well, part of it really does have to do with these "enhancements." It's like those guys who are up and arms over that 2004 DVD release of the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD. There's a sort of deep love I feel for this game that sometimes feels destroyed. And part of that just has to do with how the game has aged. As I said, it's still a fun game, but as I watched the opening cinema and played through the game, one thing was clear... what worked perfectly in the Arcade and the SNES was how subtle and simple the animations were. The cartoony look and that sort of thing was kind of what worked for the game. I wouldn't have even minded the graphics being changed to suit the current cartoon (which isn't nearly as good as the classic one, but far from being as bad as that movie made a couple years ago). But they don't. They're a little overdone here. Imagine, if you will, if you took a movie like say... Ben Hur. Good classic film. And then redid that whole Chariot Race scene and put CGI in there. A lot of CGI. It becomes so unfamiliar that you can't recognize it at all. It's the same thing here. It doesn't feel like I'm playing the same game with enhanced graphics. Some games do good with a face lift. Final Fantasy IV on the DS is an example. It's better than ever. Turtles and Time doesn't. I suppose some might be very welcome to this upgrade. It could be nostalgia talking. But it seems as though in 1992 Turtles in Time had style. In 2009 Turtles in Time looks like the nerd on the playground trying to fit in with the cool kids.
The gameplay remains unchanged. And this can be good or bad. If you're playing based off nostalgia it's not so big of a deal. But if you're expecting the gameplay to match the graphics it can be a different story. Not to mention just how far the genre has come. The classic "Beat-em up" style isn't exactly dead, but it's something you mostly see on the cheap online services such as XBOX Live. But it's also evolved. Most of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV is button mashing. And I have no problem with that. But with the improvement(?) in graphics sort of lends to this idea that perhaps an improvemet in gameplay could be done as well. There's a weird feeling that happens to some gamers who played the original version of games. When playing the original you're usually content and happy with it... but when you play a reissue and see graphics improvements... the same gameplay doesn't always feel the same because it still feels different... because in a way you're looking at something different. I was struck with this feeling. I was enjoying myself, at least. The button mashing flair... but I just kept getting the sense the game was better off just staying in 1992. The genre itself has changed a lot. it's more lively than it is now. The games are still short, but playing through this--especially based on the Arcade version--there's a sense of cheapness based on the fact that the Arcade game was designed to munch on quarters. The SNES version was not. But you're also not getting those bonuses that you got from the SNES version. You're not getting the Technodrone level anymore, nor are you getting some of your favorite boss fights.
You are getting widescreen presentation, though. And you are getting four-player co-op. Unfortunately the co-op has one small setback. That being that each turtle looks exactly the same. So you might have to stop just fo find yourself. This isn't really that big a deal. Each turtle is said to have their own stats like Speed and Range and that sort of thing but no turtle actually plays any different, other than their special moves. So pick your favorite and go nuts. Don't worry about those silly "stats."
The audio is probably the worst part. The tunes are remixed from the original game but it just doesn't sound that good. And it isn't exactly memorable. That and you have a couple of overdone voice samples but who cares about voice acting in a game like this, anyway?
Which basically brings me to the crux of this review. This is 800 Microsoft Points. Which is equivalent to ten dollars. That seems a tad bit pricey for this. If it were say... 400 MS Points, that might be a little better. But alas, it is not. Ten dollars just seems like a lot for a game that you're apt to put down after a while. The magic of the original game is pretty much gone. It's not the same game I remember. Worse is just that it doesn't stand firm as its own game in 2009. What you're getting is a game that should've stayed in 1992 and a part of our childhood. This newer version loses magic and suffers from problems that a game in this day and age really just shouldn't suffer from. The fact that it's based on the Arcade Version and not the SNES also means you're not even getting the complete game. You might like it the first time through, but beyond that there's no real incentive to play it again. So just pass on that one.
In the mean time, I think I'll pull out my Super Nintendo and play the definitive version of the game.
For a comparison of the three versions (Arcade, Super Nintendo and XBOX Live Arcade) check out this video. It's easy to see that in this day and age it's pretty dated.
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