Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters

When I was a boy, my father would accompany me on long walks through the marshlands surrounding the city.

“Boy,” he would gesture, “a great man belongs to the world, but also moves through it, like a ghost through a velvet curtain.” And then he would pick up a small turtle to emphasize his point.

“You see,” He would mutter, like a man who, after drinking himself to sleep, leans over to his mistress for one last kiss goodnight, “a turtle, when removed from his natural environment, struggles a bunch. He fears me, and wishes I were dead. But we shan’t hurt him.”

“We shant?” A Wide-eyed six year old, my only thought of the welfare of the turtle.

“We shant”

And he would move the turtle to a choice location — usually near some female turtle with whom he could start a family — and then mosey out of the town like the last cowboy to grace these parts.

But that turtle, ungrateful sod that he is, feels he is entitled to some other swatch of land, some other mate for to bang. And he says, “Mrraaaaahhhhhhhh!” And he scuttles off to another pasture, fully unaware that it was human judgment that brought him thus far, and, as he circumvents it, he as good as flips God a mighty bird meanwhilst shunning all things sacred.

So, turtles can be little shits. Teenage? More so.

I see you have two tyrannosaurs chained to your amps. You, sir, know the meaning of rock.

This game’s easy enough to describe. The Teenage Turtles we all know and love fight each other, their friends, their enemies, and even a few surprises along the way. Pretty basic stuff, really. You kick, you punch. If you’re like me, you jump up and kick down. I have before described this tactic as being the only one necessary to win any fighting game. But I fear that I soon will have to retire the marvel of ingenuity in favour of something more creative.

I was beaten, you see, by a flying squirrel. A flying squirrel? Beat a turtle? If I didn’t know better, I’d say this game was mammalian-biased!

But be it turtles or foxes, this game ain’t nothing too bad, in my books at least. Those of us who are looking for a deep fighter certainly won’t find it here. But for those who just want to watch muscular, humanoid turtles make humourless wretches out of one another, and perhaps play some small part in that display, go no further! This is likely as close are you will get to colliding with true happiness.

For, if there’s anything in this world that is true, it is happiness.

I, for one, never looked back.

 

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Super Scope 6

They called it Super Scope 6, not because it was the sixth iteration of a series, but because it had six games or, more accurately, six game modes. I won’t list them all because they’re silly. They split into two primary categories: LazerBlazer, in which one shoots at aliens who fly menacingly in front of the screen like those last reluctant cheerios in my breakfast cereal, and Blastris, in which Nintendo explores the less violent portion of the light gun spectrum. I will now attempt to convey the grandly magnificent experience that is playing such a rampantly amazing title. I will share few factual details, as we have websites like The Wikipedia for that. I will, instead, dazzle you with metaphors and similes constructed in such a way as to create, in your mind, the feeling of playing Super Scope 6.

LazerBlazer

I am a baby. I turn effortlessly in my mother’s womb. Suddenly, I realize that we’re not alone. There is evil approaching. I bang on the walls of my cage. The captain comes. He tells me that the aliens are coming, and that everyone that they thought would help them isn’t going to help them anymore. It looks like it’s up to me. “Devils!” I shout as I man my turret. I am hungry like a cannibal with naught but children on which to feast. I blaze my lazer up with my lighter. Bam bam! But my lazer is a piece of orange dog shit. Instead of light, the thing fires big gobs of yellow jell-o at my foes! Sin! I am dying for a good kill and these jell-o gobs are too slow to hit anything. Then I remember what I was taught at the academy. I begin to shoot not where the alien is, but where it will be. My gobs of jell-o hit home! I am a slug on a lovely, tasty log. I munch and munch. Yum yum. But now I am like a turtle in a shell whose shell is being shot at by cannons the size of mountains. I cannot sustain this barrage! Dying, I am an old man who dies.

All babies are trained for war.

Blastris

This mode wouldn’t work for me, and thus I am armed only with imagination and luck for my next piece. I have been told only that this mode involves some sort of Tetris clone that one plays with a light gun. I will clear the stage and then begin.

I am a Russian man in the year 4000, surrounded by the crumbling ruins of mankind. I must be kind to the toppling nation before me. I must ease its demise with organization. “Not one piece!” I yell. But there’s more: “Not one piece of Russia will be wasted! Each will fill up holes in the earth, so that, one day, my kind will once again walk on a flat surface, and not have to live underground like rats in the sewers!” And I begin to fire my cannon at the tumbling structures. Somehow, this makes them flip around, I guess, and then they go into their respective holes. I am a champion! Nothing can stop me. Except… MOLES!! And they’re everywhere. Moles at my feet. I focus my shots on them now, to save my own hide. And civilization collapses because of my selfishness. The needs of one are put before the many. Oh dang.

Kablooey

Kablooey

Kablooey
Kablooey

Kablooey is a somewhat entertaining puzzle game.  It is both a follower and precursor to a number of puzzle games in this category.  The game is challenging, and you feel a certain sense of accomplishment each time you clear a stage.

Standard grid-based game with bombs to deal with
Standard grid-based game with bombs to deal with

The concept is somewhat novel for the era.  Tile-based game.  You have to walk around and blow up bombs in a particular order such that you don’t fall in the water, or get blown up.  My biggest complaint is that the game tries to do too much at once.  You have a limited amount of time, and you have a limited number of lives (but infinite continues, so what’s the point?), and you can die just by stepping in the wrong direction by mistake.  I much prefer puzzle games when they don’t try to also put an adventuresque element to it. If they had made it now, they’d also throw in some sort of leveling system, and achievements.  Instead of all the clutter, I wish they’d just focus on the puzzles.  Make them challenging enough on their own so that you don’t have to taunt the player with making them fall off the edge because they pushed the wrong direction.  Chu-chu Rocket is masterful at this sort of game.  You don’t get frustrated when you get it wrong.  You just try again.  Here, you have to try again not only when you get the puzzle wrong, but also when you run out of time, hit an enemy,  scratch your nose and nudge the d-pad.  It doesn’t add anything to the game and takes a lot away.

You can see part of the game board layout from an aerial view, but not all of it.
You can see part of the game board layout from an aerial view, but not all of it.

I also wish they’d just show you the whole game board at the start of the stage.  I get that they’re trying to make it more challenging, but it doesn’t end up that way. You have to move, pause, move some more, pause again, to get in the whole stage.  It’s basically impossible to do them in one go.  You have to die a few times to learn the layout.  You just automatically run through each level at the start and then suicide to see the layout.  You have infinite continues. Why not?  Would have been easier to just give the player a flyover at the start of the stage, at least.

Verdict: Kablooey gets  a lot right: interesting concept, challenging puzzles.  But it suffers from trying to do too much, adding a lot of things that just frustrate the player without making the game more enjoyable or challenging.  I suppose that approach is forgivable for the early nineties.  Nowadays, Popcap games has learned the lessons from the trailblazing of games like Kablooey and makes much more fun puzzle games.  Oh, and the music is repetitive.

John Madden Football

John Madden Football

John Madden Football
John Madden Football

Let me just go right out and say it: I hate sports games.  I especially hate football games.  It doesn’t help that I greatly dislike the sport of football as well.  I’m much more of a fan of refined-skill games like soccer.  Or should I say real foot ball.  Fucking Americans polluting the namespace.  That’s right.  I went there.

Fake left, dodge right, long, cut-in chicken leg, hook deep run pass, with a cherry on top.  Who cares?  You're just going to be sacked by the computer bee-lining for your QB anyways.  Why bother?
Fake left, dodge right, long, cut-in chicken leg, hook deep run pass, with a cherry on top. Who cares? You're just going to be sacked by the computer bee-lining for your QB anyways. Why bother?

Sports games always try too hard to simulate the experience of some sort of fantasy league.  I guess that’s great if you’re the type who likes fantasy football.  I can’t stand it.  If I’m going to play sports games, I’d rather play games that consider the sport, its rules, and the related management as loose parameters to apply to a game that is primarily designed to be fun.  Good examples are any Mario sports games.  They’re not really sports games.  They’re fun games that happen to use the rough parameters of whatever their title sport is.  Another good example is the classic NES World Cup Soccer.  It was ridiculous and silly, which made it tremendous fun.  It didn’t care that you were breaking every rule of soccer.  It was interesting.

The visuals are rather mundane.  And I'm not asking for life-like realism here. I'm asking for something interesting.  It was done in the NES era so hardware isn't the issue.
The visuals are rather mundane. And I'm not asking for life-like realism here. I'm asking for something interesting. It was done in the NES era so hardware isn't the issue.

So how does John Madden Foodball fare?  Well, it makes good use of the expensive franchise that went on to sell over 16 sequels and counting.  I assume when he dies, they’ll start selling Posthumous John Madden Football, where he comes back from the grave to say his cliches for the voice-overs.

Verdict: It’s a sports game! What?  What do you want me to say?  You are either in that niche target market and drop $60+ every year for the newest and greatest football game, or you’re a gamer.  They’re all the same.  That’s all.  End of discussion.

Jeopardy! Deluxe Edition

Jeopardy! Deluxe Edition

Jeopardy! Deluxe Edition
Jeopardy! Deluxe Edition

It’s always hard to recreate game shows in a different medium.  I have self-respect, so I’ve never played one before today.  I lowered my standards to please my loving audience! Ya bunch o’ ingrates!

The game is as you expect: Alex Trebbek dubbed voice overs for a couple of things–but not the actual question reading–and your standard array of generic characters.

You even get to play as Bubbles!
You even get to play as Bubbles!

The questions seem to be picked from the show.  That is, they aren’t dumbed down for an American audience.  I find this somewhat strange.  Japanese RPGs were dumbed down for American audiences because they were “too hard”, yet Gametek figures people will sit through all the simulated effects of the tv-show just so that they can show that they don’t know some obscure fact from 20 years ago? Seems like an odd market split to me.

Who fathered a child where?  And why? Ugh.
Who fathered a child where? And why? Ugh.

While playing, I found myself a lot more curious about the randomizer, the question selection, and the comparison algorithms.   You have to answer textually.  Does that mean spelling counts?  It certainly doesn’t in the real Jeopardy.  Or is there an intelligent comparison algorithm that is more forgiving?  Playing with the computers is also somewhat frustrating because they are painfully slow.  You spend most of the game waiting.

Verdict: If I were really stuck on reliving the nostalgia of the tv game show, I’d much rather watch the SNL skits, or play a variant that adapts well to the computer medium, like You Don’t Know Jack, which is essentially the same thing, without the interminable waiting simulator.

Nice suit, Trebbek.  Does it come in men's?
Nice suit, Trebbek. Does it come in men's?

Hammerlock Wrestling

Hammerlock Wrestling
Hammerlock Wrestling

Wrestling games can be entertaining, but usually only in 2 player mode.  Invariably, the computer gets to cheese out and do things you can’t possibly do, which just gets frustrating.  Here, we don’t see that problem as much.  The computer acts like a wrestler, and makes mistakes too.

Hammerlock wrestling is somewhat entertaining.  You can have a good time with a friend and be all silly.  The game mostly suffers from crappy graphics and sound.  It’s not really SNES worthy.  It feels like a NES game.  It could also give an epileptic seizure to even the most resilient of gamers.

Those flashing white and blue streaks fly by the screen EVERY TIME YOU HIT ANY BUTTON!  It's more distracting than an emu pecking your eyes out.
Those flashing white and blue streaks fly by the screen EVERY TIME YOU HIT ANY BUTTON! It's more distracting than an emu pecking your eyes out.

You have your basic kick, punch, run, and drop-kick.  When your opponent is on the ground, you can do a joint lock, pin him, pick him up, or do a fancy move diving off the ropes.  Pretty straightforward.  Lots of button mashing.  Destroy your controller to beat your friend.

But wait, there’s more!  The game totally features Bruce McGill as Baron Kaiser!

Bruce McGill
Bruce McGill
Baron Kaiser
Baron Kaiser

Verdict:  Hammerlock Wrestling is an average game that will provide a few fun times and will create a bit of competitiveness between friends.  The computer isn’t as cheap as in other games, but the moves are kinda limited.  Try it out if you’re curious, but don’t get your hopes up for anything epic.

GP-1

GP-1
GP-1

I’ve never been much of a fan of racing games, primarily because they’re never what they purport to be: a simulation of racing.  They never recreate the fun and excitement of racing in part because pushing buttons on a controller can’t reproduce the driving environment.  No amount of peripherals, steering wheels, pedals, etc. can do it either.  I’ve even seen a system that would blow air on you to simulate speed.  Still no immersion.  I should clarify that I do, however, love Mario Kart, in its various incarnations.  That’s primarily because it purports to be FUN, not a racing game.  And it is.

GP-1 falls into the category of games that are neither an accurate reproduction of the racing experience, nor fun.

It's the only bike that doesn't have 500 in the name... It must mean something...
It's the only bike that doesn't have 500 in the name... It must mean something...

You can pick your bike and your mechanic.  Yay!  You can pick a race.  You can look at the rear of your fellow racers.

Hey, wait up you guys! I'm kool too! I can jiggy with the bike nookie wookies in the jam with the pam! I'm kool!  I wanna be just like you!  Hey! Where are you going?  Ok, I'll just wait for you here...
Hey, wait up, you guys! I'm kool too! I can jiggy with the bike nookie wookies in the jam with the pam! I'm kool! I wanna be just like you! Hey! Where are you going? Ok, I'll just wait for you here...

And then the race starts, and you never see them again, unless they lap you.  The only company you get is the washed out green colours along the way, and the annoyingly repetitive vroom of your motor.  Vroom, vroom! Look at me!

Ironically, this game writes its own review.  If only the developers had taken their own feedback, perhaps we could have been spared and this game would have never been made.

Yes, this game IS hopeless!  How nice of the developers to point it out to us!  I love it when games write their own reviews.
Yes, this game IS hopeless! How nice of the developers to point it out to us! I love it when games write their own reviews.

Verdict: GP-1 is a painfully ordinary and boring racing game.  Go play Mario Kart, or something worth two tugs of a rabid armadillo’s tail instead of wasting your time.