Late in the run of the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series (The cartoon has since been revived several times), Shredder admits that, in trying to come up with an evil plan, his solution occasionally is “*Shrug* I got nuthin’. Let’s just kidnap April O’Neil again.”
I bring this up in reference to today’s Game I Beat In 2014. While April’s getting kidnapped was a series staple (“I recognize her mumbles!”), and you rescued her at various points before this even in the earlier TMNT video games, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan is the first Turtles game in which saving her is the whole point.
TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan was released by Ultra Games in 1990 (As a side note: While I’ve covered a couple games either developed or published by Ultra, a subsidiary of Konami created to skirt around Nintendo’s policy of limiting the number of games a developer could release in a year, I have yet to do a “proper” Konami game to this point) for the Game Boy. As mentioned, the entire plot of the game is “April is kidnapped, go save her”. And fortunately, Ultra Games make this as easy as possible. When you press start, the first thing you’ll be greeted by is a Stage Select. Yes, really–right from the start of the game, you can pick which of the five stages to begin on. I’m not sure if this was an overreaction to how the ludicrous difficulty of the NES game was received or what, but it’s mostly unnecessary. More on that in a bit.
After picking your level and control scheme (For some reason, the game defaults to Golgo-13: Top Secret Episode style controls of A attacking and B jumping, though you can reverse this), you select your Turtle. Unlike the NES game, which I called “The Adventures of Donatello, Occasionally Guest-Starring the Other Ninja Turtles”, this game has the Turtles pretty evenly matched. The main difference between them is the range of their primary attacks, which you likely won’t even notice. Beside the main, standing attack, each Turtle can also crouch and throw a ninja star, or kick while in mid-air (Their strongest attack, although most enemies die in one attack regardless). The gameplay itself is your basic side-scrolling, platforming, Foot-Clan pounding action.
This gameplay is broken up by hidden bonus minigames, generally found by jumping into the correct area. These games range from tests of logic (10 chances to guess a number between 000 and 999) to reflex challenges (A skeet shooting contest). Winning the challenge in question refills your health, and in keeping with the rest of the game, none of these are very difficult.
That’s a good thing, because most of the game’s (slight) difficulty is the wrong kind. It’s not nearly as frustrating as the NES game, but the main source of difficulty is one common to Game Boy games–your Turtle takes up a sizable portion of the screen. Enemy characters are just as large, so the end result is that you have very little time to react to oncoming threats–in multiple places, it’s all but impossible to avoid damage unless you know what’s coming beforehand. Also, there are no “continues” per se once you lose all four Turtles, although the Stage Select makes it easy to get back to where you were.
While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan isn’t a bad game, it’s also not a particularly memorable one. There are only five levels, and the entire game can be beaten in under a half hour with even a little gaming skill. Worse, the game was never released on any kind of Virtual Console, meaning if you care about legality, tracking down a copy of the game itself on a site like EBay is your best shot of finding a copy. Luckily, it doesn’t seem to be very expensive, which is good, because it’s not worth paying that much for.