Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Hyperstone Heist review
Let's kick shell with blast processing! Or try to, anyway.
If you were to ask somebody about what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games they've played, they'll answer with any combination of the original arcade game, its NES port, Turtles In Time for the arcade and/or Super Nintendo, and the first NES game. Sometimes, you'll hear mentions of there being other games – in my case, this game right here known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist. This game is based off of Turtles In Time, only without the time travelling, and it's about Shrdder using the Hyper Stones he got from Dimension X to seize New York City and gain power rather than it being about Krang stealing the Statue Of Liberty and Shredder sending the turtles back in time. Given the time of release plus its playstyle, it'd be safe to assume that the only differences are cosmetic and that there would be a few less levels than the arcade and Super Nintendo games.
While this was released during the tail end of season 6, one look at the American cover for the game would have you think it's an adaptation of the comic book series. I mean, just look at these guys.. erm, turtles!
They look like they're ready to do more than simply kick shell – mainly, kicking Shredder's head in, and breaking the bones of any Foot Clan ninja that dare to stand in their way. If this wasn't intended for kids or it wasn't cashing in on the popularity of the more... comedic show and family friendly live action movies, they'd be cutting heads off and slicing abdomens! You'd probably see a couple of necks being snapped by Donatello's bo staff or Raphael's bare hands! Either way, by the end of the game, you'll have a body count of about 800, simply because they all stood in your way. Hope they got health insurance... oh, Shredder traded in the healthcare plan for droids, mousers and a pinball machine? Oops.
It's a shame – Leonardo's about to twist his shoulder, break his arm and smash his head onto the ground, too.
And that's really what the game amounts to – beating up the Foot Clan and some machines that'll invariably cross your path. It's structured like your typical beat em up where you move a bit and then groups of enemies will appear to slow you down. You'll meet most of the enemy types you'll fight throughout the game within the first level – guys who grapple you; guys with swords; guys with ninja stars; guys with nunchucks and guys who'll guard all but your finishing, strong and running attacks. On one hand, it gets you prepared for what's ahead and much like an episode of the show, Shredder isn't above siccing the Foot Clan onto the turtles. On the other hand, well, let's just say that it's a good thing that they're fast, aggressive and that you do eventually meet the more mechanical enemies later on because fighting naught but the same enemies over and over again would make going through levels boring.
The levels are far from short, too. I mean, the game has five levels versus the arcade and Super Nintendo games' ten each, but they tend to last a fair while; at least seven minutes per level. At least, that's how it would seem, although the first two levels have three segments apiece, and... look, the first level makes sense – we're going through a sewer because that's where the turtles live, then out into the streets of New York, and back into the sewer because hey, that's on the way to where the Shredder is. But then the second level has you surfing to a ghost ship that leads you to a cave? Whatever you say Konami. Just wish you guys were a bit more creative with the fourth level, which was just some sets of enemies broken up with past bosses. Save that crap for the last level, if you have to do that in the first place! But at that point, it does tend to feel like a bit of a half assed game – segmented levels without much coherence, with a boss marathon not even in the final level. The first, third and final levels feel complete while the second and fourth aren't quite so fortunate. I mean seriously... a gauntlet of bosses before the final level, what the hell...
I can't tell if he's getting grabbed or if he got hit in the balls.
Speaking of bosses, each level ends with a boss, and it's a villain from the show – from Leatherhead to Baxter Stockman and, of course, Krang inside his big robotic suit. The bosses mainly charge into you and fire off ranged attacks from the side... well, beat em ups hardly required anything more complex than punching guys in the face and maybe jump/sprint attacking when combo attacks will get your ass handed to you, and to be fair, it still does force you to react appropriately. Granted, it boils down to jumping over a charging boss and doing a sliding kick into them before they hit you with projectiles, but it still at least forces you to react accordingly. But really, outside of a cheap hit or two, the bosses are rather easy, requiring a basic level of memorization and – particularly against Krang – staying away from the corners! You'll be forgiven if you found the enemies more challenging than the bosses because there are more of them. Even Shredder, once you get the basic gist of when to hit him and how to dodge his attacks (doesn't take too long), isn't all that challenging.
“But Aevers, you can just set the difficulty to hard in the options, right”? Yep, but the only advantage the bosses really get is dealing more damage to me. Whoopee! The enemies, on the other hand, seem to be more aggressive the higher up you set the difficulty! What the hell, aren't the bosses usually the hardest part of any given beat em up like Streets Of Rage? No kung fu twins of death here guys – instead, the worst you can get here is maybe Krang and Rocksteady cheap shotting you once or twice in the corner. Ah well, at least Hyperstone Heist can make the claim that the enemies pick up the slack! Having a buddy fight with you can help with crowd control... and then make these bosses a joke. At least it's a joke you two can laugh at instead of you having to keep it to yourself in fear of embarrassment. Heck, you might find something fun about the otherwise tepid bosses!
Also, everybody in this game is Jesus.
Besides the obvious lack of any splashing effect when you're walking on water, the game generally looks good. In the options menu, you can choose to either have the comic or “anime” style, which just tampers with the vibrancy of the colors. Choose the anime style, the comic one uses too many dull, dark shades of colors with little to no contrasts while the anime style livens everything up. From there, you'll find that everything looks as they should – turtles look like turtles with their respective colored “masks”, Krang looks like Krang, Shredder looks like Shredder and the Foot Clan have the same general design that they had in the show (just with different colors so you that that this one uses a sword and this one guards a lot). They're fairly well animated, but what gives the Genesis its edge is the blast processing... you know, its processor, which is more powerful than the Super Nintendo's. It allows for more sprites on screen and moves everything a bit faster, which contributes to the enemies' aggressive behavior, just at the expense of vibrancy – not that this game looks dull or anything, but the Super Nintendo version of Turtles In Time simply looks livelier, that's all.
The sound is fairly grainy, especially when it comes to sampling voice clips. It sounds like somebody trying to speak underwater whenever a turtle goes “KOWABUNGA” or “ohh, shellshock”. Needless to say... it doesn't quite work out. It works out quite well when it comes to the soundtrack though. It's got a peppy, upbeat tempo to it, which works quite well in raising your spirits. The boss music especially gets props for being such a catchy, fist pumping song that it's drilled its way into my subconscious during each of the dull boss fights, or redrilled in my case... well, this was supposed to be a port of Turtles In Time, but Konami just went “bugger it” and sort of ported it but not really... I don't know, and there's really not much else to the music that can be said.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist receives a 6.5/10 simply because it falters in terms of excitement where it really ought to shine. The enemies are fine; in fact, I'd say that they're good because they can keep you on your toes. The levels are inconsistent, ranging from good to great to downright lazy. The bosses are like Dane Cook's jokes; mildly amusing in spite of themselves, but otherwise, they're not very good. It's a half assed port that's jumbled about a bit... that somehow works because of oftentimes fast combat and peppy music, courtesy of blast processing. At the same time, it's not quite a good TMNT game and you're better off with the other games I mentioned in the introduction (except play TMNT 3 instead of 1 on the NES – 1's kind of crappy) because at least they're consistently good games with consistently good design choices, rather than this... mishmash thing they got going on with crap bosses.
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