TMNT: Tournament Fighters Retro Review

Real Talk By: Heather Kiley (Ms. Throwback)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, say that ten times fast. I originally played this game on the SNES, but after finding out that there were also two other versions released I decided I better track down all three versions to make this review Legit. TMNT Tournament Fighters was released in 1993 on the original NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis systems. The most interesting thing about this game and the reason I wanted to make sure to play all three versions is that there are a lot of differences between them. The storylines and character lineup are very different which was a unique prospect for that time in gaming.

We’ll start out with the original NES version which was the hardest copy to come across and also the simplest of the three versions as far as the quality of the game. This title was actually one of the last titles to come out on the original NES and one of the few fighting games made for the NES making it a very unique title indeed. Considering the quality of most fighting games for NES during this time period this is step above the rest. It feels extremely dated compared to the SNES and Sega Genesis versions simply because, of course, the power of the NES is a crutch compared to the other two systems.

The NES version has seven playable characters including: Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Casey Jones, Hothead, and Shredder.  As the story in this version goes Shredder challenges the TMNT crew to a combat where they are forced to fight amongst themselves to find who is the most worthy among them. This of course makes tons of sense because Shredder is not only challenging them to a battle of worthiness but is also a playable character himself, apparently he missed the memo on how this kind of thing works, or maybe he just has morals: “If I’m challenging them to a battle of worthiness I must make sure I myself am worthy of this battle,” he thought as he challenged the turtles. Okay, I made that last part up, it’s not part of the game at all, seriously though it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense plot wise, but humor wise it makes total sense.

Gameplay for the NES version is very simplistic as you can imagine. All of the Turtle characters themselves seem to be clones of one another in different colors and unfortunately none of them use their signature weapons. All characters use basic kick and punch moves along with special combo moves. There is also the chance for a super move when an item is dropped on the stage once in a while. Gameplay is achieved in one of four modes, a single-player, player vs. CPU, player vs. player, and four player tournament mode. The visuals of the game are what you’d expect from a title on the NES console for the time and honestly I know why it was the hardest of the three versions to find. I can’t imagine anyone really going out of their way to buy this type of title in 1993. Anyone who already had an NES probably would have picked up several other titles before they thought about buying this one, and it defiantly wasn’t even an option if you had the SNES or the Sega Genesis.

Moving on to the SNES version we see a huge jump in the overall quality of the title. The visuals are much more stunning although they still include the stark menu style common with fighting titles of the era. Many more playable characters are available including: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, Cyber Shredder, War, Aska, Chrome Dome, Wingnut, Armaggon, Fake Brother (Story Mode), Rat King (Unlockable), and Karai (Unlockable). It is also much more updated in terms of play style with the characters having two different punch and kick moves and the ability to fill a meter from hitting your opponent thus being able to unleash a super move. This version also includes a tournament, versus, and story mode much like the NES version.

The story mode for the SNES version is absolutely hilarious. I found myself laughing aloud as I realized that the TMNT would be flying across the continent in their hot air balloon. Of all the mobile units the turtles could’ve organized a tournament with, hot air balloon seems the most rational of all. (hopefully you picked up my sarcasm.) Unfortunately most people picking up this game in 1993 would find that while much of the game seems aimed toward the adult or teenage crowd the plot line in story mode is slightly childish. None of this takes away from the depth of the game however, the visuals are very detailed in nature and I loved looking at the intricate art style. The controls and super move meter add even more depth and it becomes an addictive game to play. I enjoyed player vs. player mode the most just because it was as challenging as any fighter on the SNES could be and I found myself with all the normal feeling of awesomeness and frustration that should come with this sort of title.

Last but not least is the Sega Genesis version, which happens to be my favorite. Most of the reason for this is because overall it seems more involved . Even just starting out the menu system is a lot more professional. Instead of all the character being located in little square boxes to choose from all of the characters are standing in a group as one unit and can be highlighted. The story line seems better too with the turtles traveling the universe in search of their father and coming across their alter egos and other nemesis characters. Even the intricacies of the fighting system is much more involved with a weak, strong, and taunt button that can be used for a desperation attack if your health is low. This makes for some very interesting strategies during game play, especially in player vs. player mode where lowering your health can be beneficial.

The downside the Genesis version is that it only has eight playable characters, a downgrade from the SNES version’s ten. The Genesis characters are: Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, Casey Jones, Ray Fillet, April O’Neil, and Sisyphus (not to be confused with Syphilis.) to make up for the smaller character size, however some of the stages are distructable and lead to access in new parts of the stage. The dynamics of the Genesis version seem more impressive to me but to others the SNES version may seem vise versa and I’m sure opinions would very greatly on the subject. It’s a give and take situation with the SNES and Genesis versions with both versions being better or worse in different ways.

Truly while these games hold the same title of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, they are really all different games to me. While the Sega Genesis version happened to my personal favorite I feel that it’s an equal split between the SNES and Genesis just because there are pros and cons to each of the two titles. All three of the titles are fun titles to play, but when comparing all three the NES version is defiantly a shortfall.

NES Version Gets: 2mf Out of five

SNES Version Gets: 3mf Out of five

Genesis Version Gets: 3mf Out of five

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