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TMNT: Tournament Fighters – SNES

TMNT: Tournament Fighters – SNES

TMNT: Tournament Fighters - SNESPlatform:  Super NES

Release Date (NA):  December 1993

Developer:  Konami

Publisher:  Konami

Genre:  Fighting

Nerd Rating:  7 out of 10

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles need no introduction – they’re known the world over any child of the 80’s remembers their cultural and merchandising ubiquity.  Phrases like “cowabunga” and “turtle power” become a part of our lexicon, and the names of great Renaissance artists began finding greater association with animated anthropomorphic reptiles.  Video games were just one outlet for the franchise, and Tournament Fighters (occasionally referred to as “TMNT 5“) was the series’ stab at the fighting genre, which was really beginning to blossom in the early to mid 90’s after the successes of games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat.

One of the most interesting aspects of TMNT: Tournament Fighters is Konami’s decision to create divergent rosters for each home incarnation of the game.  Aside from the 4 turtles as playable characters, each port (NES, SNES, and Genesis) contains different selectable characters; Shredder makes an appearance in all games but is relegated to boss status in the Genesis version.  I remember having a lot of fun switching back and forth between the NES and Genesis versions as a kid (as well as wishing they’d just throw everyone together in a single game), but tonight I sat down with the SNES port for the very first time.

TMNT: Tournament Fighters - SNES

VS Mode Character Select

I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m a little bit spoiled by the Mortal Kombat series.  It’s not that I’m necessarily an expert at it, but it is how I’m “used to fighting” and I find other schemes (even Street Fighter) to be clunky and awkward by comparison.  But fighting games have always held a certain allure for me, and it’s great to see Konami dig into some of the more obscure reaches of TMNT continuity as sources for the characters.  As far as early-ish fighting games go, Tournament Fighters is fairly decent.  Characters contain appreciable movesets and remain stylistically different from one another.  It certainly wasn’t meant to redefine the genre, but it is a worthwhile application for the sake of putting the Turtles in the ring with each other.

TMNT: Tournament Fighters - SNES

War looks a lot like a purple Triceraton.

Ten fighters are available, plus 2 bosses that can only be access with a cheat device such as a Game Genie or Action replay (Rat King and Karai).  Besides each of the 4 Turtles, players can choose from Wingnut (an alien bat-like creature from the comics that also appeared once in the cartoon), War (an obscure figure from the comics), Shredder, Chrome Dome, Armaggon (a mutant shark taken from the comics), and Aska, a completely original character who has appeared neither before or since the SNES port.  While I do wish there were more recognizable faces, I’m still happy to see these oddballs sharing the spotlight. The game also attempts to retain some of the comics’ darker nature in the (badly translated) dialog.

For maximum enjoyment, it’s probably best to bring in a friend and go into Versus Mode for a couple of hours.  A lot of early fighting games are held back somewhat by a lack of anything to do, but since this was the norm back then, I’m not docking the score significantly.  Tournament Fighters offers up a couple of other modes as well, including Watch Mode (to watch the computer fight itself), a Tournment arcade-style 1 player mode, and a Story Mode where the player has limited continues and can only select from the 4 Turtles.  There isn’t much of a story to be told, but it’s a good enough way to square off against the bosses as well as the “Turtle clones.”

TMNT: Tournament Fighters - SNES

You can play as the normally unplayable Karai (and Rat King) with a cheat device.

The graphics may not be the best of what the 16-bit era had to offer, but they do contain that sort of high-detail animation that marked a drastic shift from the 8-bit days.  I love how detailed the creatures are and the artists did a great job of combining cartoons with a degree of realism that makes the characters look like actual fighters.  War and Armaggon are by far my favorites.  Attention has also been spent on the backgrounds which display a variety of semi-active venues (a rock show, ruins with the Foot cheering, pirate ship with giant octopus, etc.) as opposed to many of the static and stale backgrounds present in so many fighting games.

TMNT: Tournament Fighters - SNESOne of the reasons I pushed TMNT: Tournament Fighters into a full-fledged “Good” rating on the Nerd Scale (a 7 or higher) is due to the differences in style from one character to the next.  Even each fighter’s basic moves are a little different, with the main distinction being power vs. speed.  Although I’d prefer a more fluid system of combat in a perfect world, it isn’t nearly as cumbersome as other games; there’s some rudimentary comboing and juggling techniques that push it beyond the dull brawls of generic fighting games.  Every now and then, I’m convinced that I see just a little spatter of blood.

My only real criticism is how difficult the computer is, even at a moderate difficulty.  As in a lot of non-MK games, holding “Back” initiates a block, and the blocking player receives no damage.  The computer can so precisely time its blocking maneuver that it can easily spend its time chewing out the clock.  Tournament Fighters has 8 levels of difficulty (from 0 to 7) and even with a moderate setting of 3 I found it almost impossible to survive 2 rounds.

TMNT: Tournament Fighters - SNES

Considering its age and the surrounding climate at the time, TMNT: Tournament Fighters is a decent game.  Though the mechanics are slightly dated, it does manage to outperform several other cash grabs on the fighting phenomenon and there’s enough variety for some decent multiplayer game time.  I personally have a soft spot for the artwork, which I think any TMNT fan will find delightful.

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything:

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  1. Whaaat?! For whatever weird reason, I’ve never heard of this game! And I thought I was a TMNT retro-game fan! Ugh, I’ve let the world down.

  2. It’s crazy how games that aren’t critically acclaimed and aren’t rare because of circumstances like Nintendo competition cartridges just magically become super expensive. Collecting is hard sometimes lol

    • I always get a kick at how some really terrible games become moderately valuable – they were so despised during their day that they didn’t retail long, so they became rare, which made them valuable. Such is the case with the most expensive game I’ve bought to date. I’ve dropped all kinds of $$$ on hardware, but for some reason I have a harder time closing the deal when it’s a single game, but the current record holder is Castlevania: Dracula X for the SNES which I snagged used, cart only, for about $130.

      However, the NES Tournament Fighers may claim that record soon….it’s like a splinter in my mind

  3. I rented this when I was 6 and promptly got my butt whooped by the computer. I didn’t enjoy it then, but with my years of Street Fighter experience now, maybe I should give it another shot 😀

    • Yes, I was getting pummeled even on the paltry medium difficulty.

      I started digging around my stash and either I never actually owned or got rid of the NES version. I have both the Genesis and SNES ports, and I really wanted the NES version only to find that even USED, it’s going for like $150!


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