In late January, Konami gave Wii owners a pleasant surprise in the form of Contra III: The Alien Wars. While gamers were expecting the original Contra, Konami threw fans a curveball by bringing out the acclaimed third installment, instead. In addition to Gradius III, some of Konami’s best work has come from the early days of the Super NES. They did what any other good company does during the dawn of a new console cycle. They took their established franchises and improved upon them enough to create newer, better hits. Konami did this with Contra and Gradius, but an even better example lies in another anticipated Virtual Console release. And it just so happens that this franchise happens to have a movie coming out in late March.
Yes, it’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The late 80’s and early 90’s saw this reptilian foursome take the world by storm. They had an extremely popular television series, toy sales that went through the roof, and of course, a successful gaming franchise. Konami produced a number of Turtles titles for arcades that were later ported to the NES. But later, Konami topped all of their other Turtle projects by producing their fourth installment. Turtles In Time was, by far, the biggest title in the series at that point. There were numerous stages, all filled with nearly the entire Turtles’ rogues gallery and an improved gameplay engine that felt both familiar and new. If gamers are looking forward to any TMNT title for the Virtual Console, this is it.
The story starts off like any other Turtles story: outrageous. Krang interrupts an April O’Neil report to steal the Statue of Liberty on behalf of Shredder. Yes, he ran off with the Statue of Liberty. No one ever accused the Turtles of dabbling in realism. Anyhow, it’s up to the Turtles to get the statue back and beat the Shredder once again. After about four stages, though, is where the gimmick of the game starts to come in. The Turtles are sent floating through the time stream, beginning with prehistoric times. From there, they must navigate through several stages, each representing a different time period, until they return to their own time for a final battle with Shredder.
For as wacky as the plot was, it didn’t matter because the gameplay was outstanding. Konami built upon the gameplay engine of predecessors like TMNT II: The Arcade Game by making this title a standard beat-’em-up. The Turtles, however, brought some new moves into the fray. They could repeatedly slam hapless Foot Soldiers and throw them through the television screen, taking advantage of some of the Super NES’s capabilities. The Foot also brought some new toys, coming in as many varities as modern-day Shy Guys. The Foot could wield throwing stars, lasers, and even comically-large hammers. It all made for good variety and a lot of fun.
This all makes for good fun, but the reason gamers want to see this on the Virtual Console is to take advantage of what made the old Turtles titles great: co-op gameplay. The average Super NES owner could only get one friend to join in the fun. But with four controller ports, Wii owners will be able to play this game as it was meant to be played: with three other friends. Four players will be able to eat pizza and kick the tar out of the Foot together.
The next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie will hit audiences at the end of March. It would be safe to assume that a full marketing campaign will soon be underway. The question is, will Konami help the cause by releasing a Turtles title for the Virtual Console? The safe answer is yes, since it appears that Warner Bros. would love to see a Turtles revival before the big premier. If Konami does re-release a game, though, it would be almost unanimous that gamers will want to see the best Turtles game in the series. Gamers will want Turtles In Time.