Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was an integral part of both 80s and 90s pop culture, and with that came a variety of video game tie-ins. Most will quite rightly remember the classic Arcade title. However, the heroes in a half shell also made their way to the handheld screens of the Game Boy in the excellent Fall of the Foot Clan.
As with all the Ninja Turtles retro titles, the story is based upon the cartoon series, and as such doesn’t do anything too daring. This time April O’Neill has been kidnapped by the Foot Clan, and it’s up to the Turtles to save her. I did say it was simple, but it’s also highly effective. The storyline sets players up to visit a variety of different areas, from the sewers to the Technodrome. Not only that but it also means that we get to see the full range of villains, with notable boss fights against Shredder and Krang.
Throughout the game players are able to select which turtle they want to play as. However, despite their individual looks, they all handle and control exactly same. One button attacks and one button jumps. The turtles also have access to a long distance shuriken and a jumping attack, giving the combat diversity. These controls are highly responsive, allowing you to perform the twitch like controls that you’ll need. The simple control system really gives the game the perfect handheld pick up and play feeling, allowing you to focus on enjoying the game.
The quest to save April takes place over five stages, each of which is split into two areas and a boss battle. Once you’ve chosen your character the battle against the Foot Clan starts immediately, as multiple enemies at once will come at you from all areas. Overall the game takes on the feel of a shrunk down 2D Beat ’em up / action platformer, with players moving from left to right, taking on all comers.
On top of the fighting, Konami also threw in secret mini-games and platforming elements too, such as log rides and avoiding lasers. This shakes up the gameplay and prevents the feeling of repetitiveness. The game also has a relatively slow pace to it, allowing you the time to react. Nevertheless, Konami didn’t allow this design choice to restrict the action, with big and small enemies alike filling the screen rather than simply appearing one at a time.
Whilst the enemies you face do include some generic foes, such as fire and bats, the game is generally is filled with characters that any fan would recognise from the TV show, including Foot Soldiers and Stockman’s Mousers. This is even more true of the boss battles which are crafted pixel for pixel as good as the Turtles, really breathing life into some of pop culture’s most famous villains. These battles also add variety to the experience.
For the most part, the enemies within the game will go down in just the one hit. This gives the game a very attacking feel, despite the slow nature of the Turtles’ movement. This makes the game feel relatively easy, but this doesn’t make it any less fun, as thanks to the engaging and satisfying combat gameplay you always feel like you are achieving something and this rewarding feeling makes you want to continue on. The boss battles on the other hand take multiple hits, meaning you have to go on the defensive sometimes and use strategy. This especially true of the difficult boss battle against Shredder whereby he will disappear and reappear behind you.
Whilst it is disappointing that there is no individuality to the gameplay between the four turtles, it doesn’t mean that their presence is redundant. You see, when you die during gameplay that turtle is captured, leaving the other three remaining, and when all four are captured its Game Over. This really is a clever and unique way of representing the lives system, whilst also boosting the story and giving you the feeling of growing desperation.
In terms of presentation the game is second to none. The source material is given the respect it deserves, and this is evident from the moment the Ninja Turtles theme plays in all its glory in stage one. This opening tune is the start of some excellent tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in the TV series. This trend is continued within the sound effects too. From the clinks of knocking metal, to the sound when you defeat an enemy, the sound effects compliment what you are seeing on the screen and reinforce your actions.
All of the sprites in the game look impeccable and are easily console quality, with each of turtles, standard enemies, and boss characters alike easily recognisable with high levels of detail for a Game Boy title. Additionally there’s lots of visual touches thrown in throughout, such as the x-ray effect seen when being struck by a laser. The presentation really is an excellent achievement, and one that Konami should be applauded for.
Not only are all of the characters easily recognisable despite the black and white screen, but so are the places you visit. A high amount of detail and polish has gone into both the foreground and the background, really drawing you into the varied world. One that takes players to places including a fast highway, and deep into a river. Overall the whole presentation really encapsulates the feel of the cartoon series.
This is a game that packs a lot into a very small package, and despite being a game you could finish in half an hour, it feels perfect in length, never becoming boring and lending itself excellently to multiple playthroughs. This is something that is aided by the decision to permit players to select any stage right from the start, rewarding returning players who want to play their favourite stages. Though it should be noted that you’ll have to begin from stage one to get the complete ending.
I’ve played this game so many times over the years, and wouldn’t hesitate to play it one more time. The game’s simple and short nature may not be for everyone, but the enjoyable combat and pick up and play nature, not to mention impeccable presentation, all mean that you should definitely give it a go. And if you are a fan of the Ninja Turtles, then you should really stop reading and start playing!