SNES Review: Turtles in Time: TMNT IV. Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael & Donatello go 16-bit

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time for SNESSo how many of you have gone to see TMNT, the new computer generated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie that just came out today?

I haven’t seen the flick yet but I hope to in a few days and I can’t wait! God knows how long we’ve been waiting for a new Turtles film, and this movie has been in the making for years. I just hope it can live up to the awesomeness of the old movies. The Turtles property has turned into more of a kids franchise since the first movie (which had a cool edge and grit to it that has been lacking since) so I doubt this new one will come even close to that but I’ll have to wait and see. At least the fights and CG effects should wow.

TMNT As you can tell, I’m a huge Turtle fan (isn’t everybody?) and to get pumped for the new movie I’ve been going into Turtle Mania mode by watching the old flicks and, of course, playing the classic games!

So to celebrate the imminent return of the green machines, I present my review for the fourth game in the series, which is arguably the best (arguably, I said), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time for the Super Nintendo. Cowabunga dudes!

System: Super NES
Also Available On: Arcade, Sega Genesis as The Hyperstone Heist w/some altered levels (Hopefully it’ll come to Wii VC or XB Live soon as well)
Genre: Side-scrolling beat ’em up
Released: 1992
Save: None, only saves high scores in Time Trails
Players: 2
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

TMNT IV Title Screen

TMNT IV: Turtles In Time is a side-scrolling beat-’em up for the Super Nintendo that was developed and published by Konami. It follows in the vein of the two NES Turtles games before it (Turtles 2: The Arcade Game and Turtles III: The Manhattan Project) which were of the same “beat-em’ up” style, which has you fighting against hordes of enemies by jamming on the attack button. All these classic games have a side-scrolling viewpoint, but you can move up or down the playing field in most of them, as you travel forward through the levels.


The game’s story sees the Statue of Liberty being stolen by Super Krang (who comes in and swipes it in broad daylight) while April is reporting the news. So naturally the Turtles set out to get the statue back and save the day. Of course in the process they are eventually sent back in time as they chase Shredder, and this results in some diverse levels that include dinosaurs and even a few levels set in the future. Obviously the plot is just an excuse to have the player fight against gangs of enemies and the story never comes into play outside of the opening and closing sequences.

Chain Whip Soldier

You choose to play as one of the four Turtles through 9 levels (10 if you include the final boss fight). Each level has you fighting groups of enemies (as stated above), the majority of which will be multi-colored Foot Soldiers (who are of the robotic variety, as seen in the classic 90’s, late 80’s cartoon). These foot soldiers carry many different weapons, and they attack in different ways: Jumping up and throwing down knives, swinging chain whips to hit what’s in front of them, melee attacking with three-section staffs, throwing Chinese stars, or just punching you.

Yellow Soldier

They range in difficulty as well. Harder ones include a yellow soldier that throws a disc that flys across the screen and comes back, to a common pink-colored soldier that can actually block your attacks and usually has to be destroyed in a more specific manner. These enemies will also gain up on you, attacking from the front and behind.


Other enemy types include various robots, such as Mousers (made famous from the cartoon) and Rock Soldiers, which are stronger than standard Foot Soldiers and sometimes come with weapons of their own: flamethrowers, rocket launchers, electric guns or construction rails. Rock Soldiers are slightly tougher than standard Foot Soldiers, but none of the enemies pose much of a challenge on their own. It’s simply their strength in numbers that does you in.


At the end of each stage you will fight a boss, and these guys are obviously much tougher than the regular enemies. You will see many familiar faces from the old popular cartoon (which ran from Dec. 10 1987 to Nov. 2nd 1996. 193 episodes in total), including Slash, Bebop & Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, The Rat King, Krang and a few others. These guys generally are more powerful and have a few different attacks and more complex patterns than the normal enemies.


Each Turtle has their own unique special attack, as well as difference in speed, strength and the way they attack. Raf is the fastest and the strongest attacker, but dies easily, Donny has the longest range, Leo isn’t bad all around and Mikie has quick combos but is slow to swing, but stronger than Raf. Generally it will come down to personal preference as to who is your favorite Turtle to play as. Or whether you want a quick character or a slower character. Personally I prefer Raphael. Although he’s always been my favorite. 🙂

Character Select Screen

Unlike a lot of beat-em ups where enemies simply seem to come in waves from the side, in Turtles IV (as well as in the previous games), the Foot have a variety of cool ways they’ll come onto the scene. Whether it’s jumping out of a sewer (and throwing the cover at you, which you can knock back at them destroying any enemy in it’s way) to pretending to be objects in the background, to riding up from horses on the train stage, and teleporting in the Starbase, it’s entertaining just to watch how they come onto the scene.

Turtle Beatings

As you fight your way to the other end of the stage, you will also occasionally encounter objects to interact with. The train stage features a barrel that you hit to knock over, and it’ll roll, smashing any foot in it’s path (run after it to kill even more). The initial stage features sticks of dynamite that will destroy any enemies the explosion touches, as well as steels balls that will roll across the screen at one point or another. The second stage has a fire-hydrant that will shoot water out if you hit it, and the water will destroy any foot that it touches. These features are nice to have because they add even more ways to destroy enemies. And the interaction is welcome.

Metal Ball

The controls in Turtles are easy enough for anyone to pick up. Hitting Y will swing your weapon, while B jumps and pressing both Y&X together (or just X depending on your control scheme, which you can set in the option menu) will perform your Turtle’s special attack, which is different for each Turtle (however doing a special attack will take away some health, so use them sparingly). And normally your turtle will walk forward then run if you hold forward for a few seconds, but you can toggle this in the option menu to make it so double-tapping makes you run (my preferred option).

Emulated gameplay of the UK Arcade Version

While Turtles only uses a jump and attack button, there are many different types of attacks you can perform if you take some care in how you attack. If you jump then press Y right after you’ll do a low jump kick, which is very helpful in taking out groups of enemies that gang up on you. Jumping high into the air and pressing forward then Y will do an aggressive dive kick, sending your Turtle diagonally towards the ground. Which is helpful when escaping from enemies or hitting guys who are further away before they can throw something at you. You can also simply jump straight up and kick to do a standing jump kick, or you can jump in the air and press Y after your Turtle closes in, which will let them keep swinging their weapon as they slowly come down (the more you hit Y the more they swing).

Having all these attacks at your disposal changes Turtles IV from a mindless beat-em up to one that is a bit more skillful, since knowing how to attack and when can be the key to victory. Although it’s not too difficult to simply hammer on the attack button and make your way through the game.


However knowing the two advanced techniques can definitely keep your from losing as much life as your button mashing friends. Depending on where you are standing after you hit a soldier, you can actually throw them at the screen (which will take them out in one hit, since they never come back from the throw) or grab their arm and swing them into the ground . . . repeatedly. This will also take out any enemies that are caught in the way, and is very helpful in taking out groups of enemies without dying. Throwing foot soldiers into the screen not only looks very cool and is a pretty original idea, but it’s actually used in one of the boss battles later on, which is really just an ingenious idea.

Heads Up! Foot Soldier coming!

There are also some cool running attacks you can do. Pressing B while running will cause your Turtle to do front hand springs over and over as fast as you can press the B button, which not only looks cool but it allows you to dodge attacks, since you can’t be hit while doing it. Running and then pressing B will do a charge attack, which can lead to a combo or allow you to grab/throw the enemy depending on the timing of the Y Button. Running, pressing B and then quickly pressing Y will do a sliding attack, sending your Turtle across the floor and knocking down any enemies in your path, which can tremendously help, especially when fighting groups of enemies. All these extra moves adds up to really give you a lot of variety in the way you can approach attacking enemies. And it gives TMNT IV a lot of technique, if you choose to anyway.

Sewer Surfin

The levels are pretty diverse, and they all have different level hazards, from the aforementioned giant steel balls, to freezing floor tiles to switches on the floor that will make the boards on a ship stage pop-up and hit you in the face. It’s all very fun and goes a long way in making the levels not feel static. You’ll also find pizzas scattered at various points in the level that will refuel your health. There are even a few pizza boxes with a bomb on the cover. These allow your Turtle to go into an uncontrollable spinning frenzy, which immediately kills any enemy you touch! Make sure to try and save these for a point where you can destroy the max amount of enemies.

While most levels are of the standard variety (having you go through an environment beating up Shredder’s goons) there are two bonus stages that you will encounter in the game. One of them has you surfing through the sewer fighting Pizza Monsters that jump out at you as well as avoiding various spikes and other hazards. These levels are for fun but you can die too if you aren’t careful. Near the end of each you’ll encounter various Question Marked pizza boxes scattered about and you have to try to collect as many as you can. And at the end there is even a boss fight. Once you finish the stage points are tallied and depending on how many pizzas you got, enemies you killed, etc. you’ll gain a certain amount of extra lives (which you can do normally too if you get enough points from killing enemies). The second bonus stage is very similar to the first except more “futuristic” and you fight different types of enemies, including foot soldiers with mini-guns in little helicopter machines! And instead of dodging spikes it’s electric balls. Try not to get shocked!

Neon Nightriders

Probably the funnest part of the game though is the boss battles. It’s really cool to see your favorite characters from the cartoon (even Tokka and Rahzar from the 2nd movie!) immortalized in beat-em up history and animated on the screen, and all of them are pretty fun to pummel. They each have unique death animations and some fun quirks too, like Bebop and Rocksteady fighting with each other or Slash (definitely the most difficult boss) who rolls all over the place dodging your attacks. These animations give the bosses personality and go a long way in making them all feel different from each other. Which is nice to have in a game of this type where the whole focus is on beating up thugs.

Bebop & Rocksteady

Turtles is fun to play, whether playing one or two-player. Although it’s better when playing with a friend than playing alone. The game isn’t too challenging, even if you put it on hard, but it’s not too easy either. It’s a pretty good balance. Turtles IV also isn’t long. I was able to beat it on hard in about an hour and 30 minutes, and on normal in only half an hour. You can make the game more difficult though by changing the life amount to either 3, 5 or 7 in the Options menu.

The graphics in Turtles IV aren’t particularly detailed but they get the job done well and there are a lot of fun animations that go a long way in making the game seem lively (not to mention the fact that boss characters are pretty big on-screen). From the Turtles getting smashed into pancakes if run over by a big metal ball to being able to fall into sewer holes, complete with a little caption balloon to the boss animations detailed above.

Rat King

The music is excellent. The vibe is very upbeat and fast paced and it fits the Turtles feel PERFECTLY, as does the color pallet (which you can toggle in the option menu from Animated to Comic. “Comic” makes all the Turtles a different shade of green). There are also a few sound clips in the game, including a ‘Cowabunga!” reserved for when you beat a level and the name of each stage is said before you enter. Overall it’s very true to the animated cartoon and won’t disappoint you if you are a Turtle fan.

There are two extra modes as well. Time Trails and VS mode. But these are pretty throwaway and it’s doubtful you will even play them for more than 5 minutes. The VS mode is exactly that, it lets two players fight each other as one of the four Turtles, while the Time Trails mode has you going through sections of a level (selecting from one of three stages, each taken from the main game), called “Rounds” here, where the goal is to destroy all the enemies. Your time is tallied and put against the high score at the end, so you obviously are trying to kill them in the fastest time possible. However you aren’t able to enter your initials nor does it tell you what Turtle you were playing with when you complete the mode and save your time, so it’s all pretty pointless.

VS Mode

There’s also an Options menu. Here you can change the number of continues and lives available to you (which can make the game significantly more difficult I might add), turn the Dash from Automatic to Manual (detailed earlier in the review), turn Back Attack on or off (this makes the turtles automatically attack an enemy behind them when ganged up on), change the controller type (Making the X Button your Special Attack is a no-brainer IMO), as well as change the color mode as already detailed. You can also set the sound to stereo or mono or listen to all the game’s music with the Sound Test.


In the end Turtles In Time is a fun game, but it’s not long or deep. I would recommend it for those that enjoy beat-em ups in general or if you are a fan of these types of classic action games. And I definitely recommend Turtles IV if you haven’t played the game before. If you have played it however, then it is harder to recommend tracing it down. In this day and age you can get games with a lot more depth for a cheaper price.

However hopefully Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time will come to Xbox Live Arcade or Wii Virtual Console (or both). Konami has already released Turtles 2: The Arcade Game on Xbox Live, so they would be foolish not to follow it up with Turtles 3 and Turtles 4. Now that the movie has released they need to definitely take advantage of the situation and savor the desire for all of the shellheads that never got to play some of these games!

So if Turtles IV is released on either Xbox Live Arcade, Wii Virtual Console, or even the Playstation Store, then I definitely recommend picking it up, as it is a great “pick up and play” game to have when a friend comes over.

In the words of Leo: “Dudes and Dudettes, major-league butt-kicking is back in town!”

Turtles IV is still fun after all these years. Although it’s pretty easy unless you purposefully make it harder by altering settings, and it’s not deep by any means. However it’s still one of the best beat-em ups ever made and it set a high benchmark for the genre at the time of it’s debut. Nowadays though it’s shallow and lacks longevity, so you’ll probably only play it once or twice before it’s done with, and you likely won’t mess with the other modes. Short but sweet, in other words.

This is how the Turtles should be!

Graphics: 7.5
The graphics are pretty good. They completely capture the feel of the Turtles and their animations are very exaggerated and fit super well, and none of it looks too shabby. Having said that though the game will far from wow you, even by SNES standards.

Presentation: 8.5
The presentation is great. The intro to each stage shows a silhouette of the boss along with the name of the level (which is voiced), and all the level names are funny (such as “Bury My Shell At Wounded Knee” and “Starbase: Where No Turtles Has Gone Before”). There are short cut-scenes before certain levels (as you can see in the Technodrome pic) and overall the game just nails the look of the show.

Music & Sound: 8.0
The music is excellent. It fits the look and feel perfectly, like the graphics. And the music is upbeat and fast-paced. Totally gets you in the mood to play as a Turtle! The game even contains a few lines of speech. A big deal back then.

Ingenuity: 7.0
While this game didn’t do much new, it did add a lot of cool features. From all the moves you can do to the great presentation to a boss fight that requires you to do the advanced technique of throwing enemies into the screen. It’s the same old, same old, but with a brand new look and feel.

Replay Value: 5.5
You will likely only play this game once or twice and be done with it. Extra modes are nice but they are extremely shallow and you will likely have your fill after one play through of the main game.

Turtle Toy Art