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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Back from the Sewers – Game Boy

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Back from the Sewers – Game Boy

box frontPlatform: Nintendo Game Boy

Developer: Konami

Publisher: Konami

Genre: Action

Release Date (NA): December 1991

Nerd Rating: 6/10

Reviewed by FrozenMallet

When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan released on Game Boy in 1990 it was the first time gamers could take the Heroes in the Half Shell on the go. It was a simple hack and slash, walk to the right and don’t die kind of affair but it was alright. So what if the game play was simple and the enemies lacked variety. This was the Turtles (of the teenage mutant ninja variety). Everyone I knew had a favorite turtle that would reflect their own personality. Sort of like the Spice Girls but for boys and with less sexual equality. For the record my favorites then and now are Donatello and Sporty.

selectTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Back to the Sewers draws upon the same gameplay mechanic as its predecessor. Simply walk to the right smacking foot soldiers in the face with your chosen turtle’s weapon until you get to the end of the stage to fight an end level boss. This is just like Kung Fu Master in a TMNT palette except in Kung Fu Master at least you got to walk to the left on the odd numbered levels.  However, fans are forgiving by nature and most fans will ignore shallow gameplay for the chance to step into the shoes of their favorite heroes. As long as there is enough fan service in the presentation and the game manages to get the tone and atmosphere right, that is.

This is where this game excels. As soon as the game starts up we are treated to a slick intro which is a black and white version of the intro taken directly from the original arcade game. Press start and now we have a character selection screen with all four turtles beautifully illustrated each clearly showing what weapon they wield, just in case you didn’t know already. This is a real improvement from the Fall of the Foot Clan’s selection screen that looked as though you were looking up your character in the White Pages.

Another welcome addition is before the start of every level there is a title card with the design taken directly from the 1987 animated show. It would have been nice if the developers would have taken this opportunity to give each level a clever title but such an opportunity is discarded like a leftover pizza crust and each title card simply reads “Act 1”, “Act 2”, and so on.

act1Its not like its hard to come up with clever titles. They could have used something like “The Shredder in Ms. O’Neil” or maybe “Four Turtles, One Man-hole” or… Never mind. This is harder than I thought. I guess the title cards are fine the way they are.

Anyway if that’s not enough to wax your shell, there’s more. When paused most games just freeze. Sometimes the music keeps going, sometimes the game goes silent, and sometimes the game goes above and beyond like in Battletoads when that funky beat plays. In TMNT 2 Back From the Sewers another title card comes up that reads “Pizza Time” with a well detailed depiction of a turtle sitting on his ass taking a little siesta and having a snack. Then if you let the game stay paused for a few seconds a catchy tune will play but not at the same volume as the active game but rather softly. These may be little things but put together they add a lot to the immerse the player into the world of the turtles.

So, we’ve gotten this far with barely a mention of the game play. That is because this is basically the same game as Fall of the Foot Clan with enhanced visuals and two notable exceptions. The first being that there is a construction level that has you guiding your turtle through some extremely simple platforming. While nothing special at least it does give a little variety to the game play. Which ends up being even more depressing because it shows that someone on the development team was at least trying.

play1The second is that in Fall of the Foot Clan if you lost a turtle that was it. That turtle was gone forever to the big pizza palace in the sky, probably learning how to play “Coming Out of Our Shells!” or maybe “Skipping Stones” on a harp. That isn’t the case here, if you lose a turtle you have a chance to get one back after defeating the end level boss. With whichever turtle you beat the boss with you then fight a giant robot, if you win you can free a turtle. If not your assed out and the turtle rots in jail. In Fall of the Foot Clan this would have been unnecessary anyway since the game is so easy but here in TMNT 2 Back to the Sewers the boss battles are much more difficult this time around and at least the opportunity to get a turtle back is a welcome one.

I know that I have been referring to the game play in a negative light but I should mention that this game is n0t terrible by any stretch, it’s just one dimensional. If you have to choose between TMNT 2 Back to the Sewers and Fall of the Foot Clan then I would recommend this game. But if you have played through Fall of the Foot Clan I would say don’t bother. At this time there was so much innovation happening to portable gaming but TMNT 2 Back to the Sewers was just a cash-in. For a game that was about mutated turtles trained as ninjas that ate pizza one would expect some imagination to be put into a game that uses the property.

Not only that but Krang is the final boss again! I am convinced that the developers watched the cartoon but didn’t have a copy in their native language. That or they were just trying to be consistent with the previous game, but I doubt consistency was part of any of the planning for this game.

play2Speaking of consistency, what was the point of TMNT 2 Back from the Sewers? To destroy to Technodrome? We did that last game. At least Shredder made the effort to kidnap April this time. There is no story to speak of other than that. Which I guess if its good enough for Mario its good enough for the Heroes in the Half Shell and they had to do something. It wouldn’t have made any sense to just have to turtle go tearing up the Technodrome if Shredder and Krang were just minding their own business playing hide the tentacle.

It’s not that I’m mad. Its just that I’m… well mad I guess. When I was a kid I loved the turtles. I had the “Coming Out of Their Shells” cassette tape that my parents got by buying a bunch of pizza from Pizza Hut and listened to that tape until my ears bled. And that had nothing to do with the quality of the music. We deserved better than this. When this TMNT 2 Back to the Sewers came out I was too young to realize that I had just been taken advantage of. Maybe its that adulthood has hit me full in the face and now I am bitter and cynical but it just isn’t fair. Konami just used this game to finance more Castlevania games, which I would be OK with but I just wish they could have chose something else to exploit.

Am I out of line? Do other turtle fans look back fondly at this game? Let me know in the comments section below.

Written by Nerd Bacon

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One Comment

  1. It’s always a shame when a beloved property is used as a cash grab. You have my condolences.


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