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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Tournament Fighters (SNES)

When you think about it, of all the obscure licenses that were turned into fighting games in the mid 90s the Ninja Turtles made the most sense.  Between the two comic book series and the cartoon there are a wealth of characters to throw down with.  While the Sega was a valiant attempt the SNES version was obviously created by a separate team and the gulf in quality is apparent.  This version is a viable alternative to the many versions of Street Fighter and resides in the upper echelon of SNES fighting games.

A tournament has been organized and the Turtles mobilize to stop their nemesis, the Shredder.  You don’t need any other reason to kick some ass so here we go.  Released around the same time as Street Fighter 2 Turbo Tournament Fighters is able to match Capcom’s classic in terms of features and modes and while the fighting engine isn’t as robust there are enough characters with varying play styles to keep you occupied for many hours.

10 Combatants make up the active roster with the 2 bosses hidden.  Of course the 4 brothers are present and accounted for and ready to kick some ass.  They never really specify whether the Shredder in this game is a cyborg or the original but considering Karai is the head of the Foot Clan in this game I’m going with the former (bow down to my knowledge of Turtles continuity).  And you know what, it doesn’t matter, he looks like the god damn Shredder and that should be enough for everyone.  The lone original fighter in the roster, Aska, looks similar to April O’Neil however the comparisons end there.  She has some sweet moves and an amazing battleground.

The rest of the roster is composed of lesser known aliens from the cartoon and the Archie comic.  Chrome Dome was featured in an episode of the cartoon but let’s be honest, no one remembers him.  War, Armaggon, and Wingnut all came from the Archie comic so unless you were seriously into all things green they might as well be original creations.  I don’t really have an issue with the rosters of these games but I do wonder why Konami were so adamant against using the more popular characters such as Bebop, Rocksteady, or even Leatherhead.  And what’s with the obsession with the Archie characters anyway?  I’ll stop before going off on a tangent.

Inject Street Fighter into the Ninja Turtles franchise and you have a good facsimile of this game. From the command prompts to some of the special moves it’s exact.   Although it is derivative the most important fact is it all flows.  Some deep combos are possible and with 10 characters plus 2 hidden there’s a wealth of content to explore.   The balance is slightly skewed in favor of the Turtles seeing as they have 3 special moves to everyone else’s two but not so much that the other characters are unplayable.  Before Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo this was one of the first fighting games to introduce super moves and as the name suggests they can change the outcome of a match in a heartbeat.  Some characters like Shredder fill up that meter faster than others but it’s counterbalanced by the lack of power behind their super moves.

Speaking of balance, compared to the rabid AI of the Sega version the computer here is dumb, easily susceptible to repeated patterns.  Although the lack of challenge might mean you’ll blow through the single player there is a story mode in addition to the generic tournament to plow through.  Plus you can always increase the AI level, the speed of the game and versus mode.  It’s a well rounded package overall.  Not bad for an original stab at the genre.

Whereas the Genesis game is dark and dreary the Super NES game is bursting with life.  This could easily have passed for an arcade game back in 1993.  The backgrounds are full of spectators with numerous cameos, ridiculous detail, and fabulous animation.  The super moves are suitably flashy which offset the flat backgrounds.  The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal; this is Konami at their prime.  A common “complaint” if you want to call it that is that the game is too bright and cheery; so what?  The graphics are amazing and don’t need to be dark for the sake of it.  Play the assy Genesis version if you need angst with your Turtles.

Tournament Fighters stands the test of time as a worthy fighting game in the SNES library.  It’s a worthwhile alternative to the Street Fighter games and honestly I prefer it to Mortal Kombat.  But I’ve never been the biggest fan of the MK games so take that as you will.

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