#3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

Turtles in time (snes cover)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may just be one of the stupidest ideas ever conceived through smoke inhalation. It’s also one of the coolest cartoons ever! Ever since it graced the 80’s with its presence the characters have taken dozens of different forms and have enjoyed a wild amount of success even today. The ironic thing is that the Ninja Turtles were originally introduced in a graphic novel as a satire of comic books. What was meant to be a joke, has turned into a multi-million dollar global phenomenon. Who knew?

One of the more memorable outings for the Ninja Turtles was an incredibly satisfying arcade game that has found its way on my list of forgotten favorites of gaming.

#3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

There are some that consider gaming to be a form of stress relief. Nothing is more cathartic than side scrolling “beat’em up” games. The characters move across the screen, punch, kick and maul every single enemy that gets in their path. In September 1991, Konami released an arcade “beat’em up” for the Ninja Turtles called Turtles in Time. One year later, the game was ported onto home consoles such as the Sega Genesis, the Super Nintendo, and the Japanese counterpart, the Super Famicom. The story is simple, the Turtles are watching their friend, April, give a news report on the Statue of Liberty when suddenly, Shredder shows up and steals the statue, prompting the Turtles to spring into action. They follow Shredder into the sewers where he lures them into a time vortex and – hey, wait…how did Shredder steal the Statue of Liberty? The Technodrome he rolls around in is pretty big, but can it lift the Statue of Liberty? Maybe Kraang came by with a giant crane or alien bulldozer.

Turtles in Time is based on the 1980’s cartoon show and is part of an extensive string of show-related video games. Gameplay is nearly identical to other “beat’em up” games such as Double Dragon and the classic Simpsons arcade game. During their adventure, the Ninja Turtles follow Shredder through different points in time from the past and into the future. There aren’t very many stages, but the game makes up for this by having each stage extend for as long as possible. That’s perfectly okay, though, every moment is pure “beat’em up” gold. The sounds are classic, the punches and kicks feel incredibly satisfying, and the onscreen animations instantly trigger nostalgia.

The strange thing about this game, rather the title, is that many fans mistake it for the third live action Ninja Turtles movie. Much of the confusion comes from the fact that the plot of the third film involves the Turtles being sent back to feudal Japan. Even Blu-ray copies printed today mistakenly bear the subtitle, Turtles in Time. It’s curious how widespread this misconception is and how long it’s been going on. Despite this, the game is the original owner of the title, and can be owned by you if you stop by Amazon, eBay, or any vintage game shop.

Will the game ever be the sole entity to be known as Turtles in Time? Who knows? However, more important questions still hang in the air: Why did Shredder steal the Statue of Liberty? What did he think stealing the Statue of Liberty would accomplish? What was he going to do with it? Was he going to sell it? Who would want to buy the Statue of Liberty, and who would have the money for it? Where would he have hidden it? How would he have hidden it? Was he planning to weaponize the Statue of Liberty? One would assume that moving it anywhere would cause it to fall apart. I suppose it really doesn’t matter. If we can accept that the Shredder cruises around in a giant sphere with a large eyeball on top, then stealing the Statue of Liberty can’t be the craziest thing.

In any case, Turtles in Time is a great outing for the Ninja Turtles and a fairly effective form of stress relief. Pick up a copy and be sure to have a pizza handy!