Nintendo Archive: TMNT Tournament Fighters

Not really much of an â??obscureâ? game, not by a long-shot, but still one of the perennial favorites among SNES-owners and lovers of all 2D fighters. Obviously, since this feature is called â??Nintendo Archiveâ?, I will be reviewing the Super Nintendo version of the game. However, let it be known that there were two other versions of this game; one for the original NES and one for the Sega Genesis. Each game had different playable characters, which is sort of a shame, as two of my favorites, Karai and Casey Jones, are not featured in the SNES version.

TMNT Tournament Fighters was inspired by the â??sparring matchâ? feature from the TMNT: Turtles in Time brawler. Basically, you could practice your moves in a 2-player sparring match with limited fighting options. That proved to be a very popular feature and so it spawned the Tournament Fighter series. The SNES version has 3 modes you can play the game in; Story Mode, Tournament Mode or 2-Player. The Story Mode is fun, though it only allows you to play as one of the 4 Ninja Turtles. Still, adding a story gives the game a bit more depth and I almost wish more fighters would do it the way Tournament Fighters did. In Tournament Mode you can play as any of the characters, including the villains, to win lots of cash. So you sacrifice the story but you still get to play as any character you want (and there are cheat codes available so you can play as the final bosses, too).

The game had an interesting feature added to give the fights a little more â??oomphâ?. The more blows you threw at your opponent, whether they blocked them or not, your Mutagen Meter would gradually increase. Once it was full you could unleash a super-powerful attack to devastate your enemy. This was appreciated, as I had a buddy who preferred to play â??defensivelyâ? (as in, heâ??d cower in a corner, blocking, and just waiting everything out). It got annoying. This feature rewarded the more hyper-active fighter with a killer special attack if you could go crazy and not die before your meter filled up.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, reliving old video game memories, and I remember him telling me that the one thing he hated about Tournament Fighters was all the â??made-upâ? characters Konami put into the roster. Well, I corrected him, of course. While characters like Armagon and War never featured in the cartoon series, they were very popular in the Archie TMNT comic. Meanwhile, characters like Chrome-Dome and Wingnut did appear in the cartoon, though sparingly (and, again, they were more popular in the Archie comic). I believe Aska is the only â??made-upâ? character in the whole game. She was probably tossed in there just for the sake of having an obligatory female character (with April Oâ??Neil and Karai having already been secured for the game on another system). Itâ??s a shame not enough people read the Archie comic back in the 90â??s, as it took the characters and origins as they were presented in the TMNT cartoon, but made them royally hardcore.

As far as the characters go, youâ??ve got a good selection. My favorite was always the Cyber Shredder (The Shredder but with cyber-armor), mostly because I thought the Shredder just looked damn cool. He had a good selection of moves, like the Forearm Crusher, the Lightning Crusher (his Mutagen Meter attack), a forearm shield and a nasty throw-move. Leo and Aska were probably the most annoying to play against. Leo was cheap as Hell, constantly using his energy attack on you. Thankfully, Cyber Shredderâ??s forearm shield could deflect it right back at him. All the turtles also carried-over their special moves from TMNT 3: the Manhattan Project, the classic NES brawler. So Leo also had his spinning sword move and what-not. Raph had his drill-attack from the Manhattan Project intact, and for a projectile move he could hurl red bursts of energy at you, similar to Krillenâ??s â??Destructo Diskâ? from Dragonball Z. All the turtles also had throw-moves. Mike could spit fireballs at you from out of his mouthâ?Šwhich was very strange. His most annoying move would be his ability to propel himself upward like a helicopter with his nunchakus. So trying to get him with a jumping move was rather difficult. Then thereâ??s Don. He has a great reach with his bo-staff and can smack you around pretty bad with that thing. His projectile attack was his ability to send a bolt of energy at you through the ground. Not a very good move, as it was easy-enough to avoid by jumping.

As for the â??extraâ? characters, some were better than others. Aska was a very defensive player; she could block ANYTHING. So it required a bit of patience to beat her (I hate patience!), as you had to wait for her to make the attack so you could get an opening. She had some stupid tornado move and really nothing very impressive; sheâ??s probably the lamest character in the game. Wingnut, due to his wings, was always hovering above the ground and could dodge attacks real easy. He could also jump really freakinâ?? high, thanks to those wings. His attacks sorta mimicked break-dancing moves, which looked rather cool. Chrome-Dome was the games â??Dhalsimâ?, if you will. His legs could extend great distances to hit you in the face. He also had rapid-hitting attacks where he could pull-off a half dozen hits on you in the span of a second. Armagon, the shark-guy, could spit big balls of energy at you and smack you up with his tail. And War, well, I never had any trouble beating that guy. His hits were real strong, but he was so big and slow that moving around him was easy. Not designed very well. And the boss characters were both a strange and expected selection. The â??mini-bossâ? of the game isâ?Šthe Rat King? Donâ??t get me wrong, the guyâ??s hardcore in the comics and cartoons, but the second-to-last boss? He also looks like heâ??s either a pro-wrestler or on steroids, as heâ??s frigginâ?? HUGE. His moves are, again, wrestling-inspired and involve no actual rats. Then, the final boss is Krang. Who didnâ??t see that coming?

The graphics are excellent, on par with any fighter Capcom released for the 16-bit era. This was actually the first Konami 2D fighter I ever played (hell, have I ever played any others from them?) and they did a magnificent job. The overall quality of the graphics, controls, moves, stages and character selection is just as good as anything Capcom has ever released, and theyâ??re generally revered as the premiere company when it comes to 2D fighters (well, the SNK fans would argue that to their graves). The overall quality and entertainment value of the whole game leaves me to wonder why it never expanded. Unless you count that fact that there were three versions released on 3 different systems at the same time, Tournament Fighters never got a sequel. I suppose this had to do with the TMNTâ??s dwindling popularity toward the mid-90â??s. Still, a â??Tournament Fighters Collectionâ?, featuring all 3 versions of the game, would be ideal. Especially considering the TMNTâ??s recent resurgence.

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