Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Fall of the Foot Clan
Platform:  Game Boy
Players:  1

    It is hard to think of a pop culture franchise that was as powerful in the late 1980's up until the late 1990's as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  After the comic spun off into the cartoon series there were live action movies, two tons of merchandise, a live music tour, and plenty of games.  Having already a successful coin-op arcade game and an equally successful yet totally different NES game, Konami brought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the portable market under their Ultra Games label in the first of what would be three outings on the original Gameboy.  It was an obvious move as one would be hard pressed to find two other things that were as popular among kids in the early 1990's as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nintendo's Gameboy.

Description:  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Fall of the Foot Clan takes a page from the original arcade release, simply titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as some of the additions made in the original NES game.  It sticks with the standard "rescue April O'Neil" cliché that the early games were built around but instead of recovering her early on and then continuing forth as with the other games, she is the only objective to reach in the title.  The game is broken up into five stages that can be played one through five or any stage can be selected individually, however the only way to complete the game is to begin at stage one.  At the end of each stage the player will encounter a boss based off popular enemy characters from the series.  In order of the stage they wait at the end of, the player will encounter: Rocksteady, Bebop, Baxter Stockman (in his Baxter the Fly incarnation), Shredder, and Krang in his exosuit.  At the beginning of each stage the player can select which turtle they want to set out on, being returned to the selection screen and the start of the stage / substage if all their energy is depleted and their previous turtle "captured."  Pizza is sometimes left behind by certain enemies or can be boxed floating around specific levels, picking it up replenishes a designated amount of the life bar depending on how big a slice it is.

The game retains the coin-op feel as it is more of a beat 'em up as opposed to a platformer like the NES game was.  The levels scroll to the right based upon the player's movement.  Most non boss enemies are destroyed after a single hit and the level locations and bosses faced are fairly similar to the arcade TMNT game.  However the turtle selection screen, the return to this screen when a turtle is "caught" and game over taking place when all four turtles have been "caught" are all things directly lifted from the original NES release.  Basically it's a flat single player side scrolling game that somewhat resembles the original coin-op.

Graphics:  Fall of the Foot Clan was release early into the original Gameboy's life and looks excellent.  The visuals are nicely detailed and hold up well even against games release much later.  Sprite animation is limited but there are enough frames for each movement and things like Michelangelo twirling his lead nunchaku during his walking animation add a nice touch.  The backgrounds are extremely detailed for a title of this era with both background and foreground objects.  Larger indestructible enemies that scroll by as obstacles can seem static and dull due to lack of animation but they usually move by so quickly that one wouldn't think much of it.  Those larger sprites do come at a price however as a couple of them on the screen will cause flicker and breakup to both themselves and any other sprites on the same horizontal plain.  End of stage bosses are wonderfully detailed with multiple animations and movements and do justice to the original source material.  There are also high resolution cutscenes sprinkled throughout the game that again, were extremely impressive when this title was released.

Sound:  Sound effects are the usual beeps and bloops that the Gameboy produces but are nice enough to do their job.  There is an original soundtrack composed of a few pieces of music that are recycled throughout each stage but each tune is very fitting to its environment.  Of course the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song is present and used early in the game as well as towards the end.  None of the music is bothersome and it all adds up to a nice audio package.

Play Control:  If there is one real drawback to the game it comes at the expense of control.  Fall of the Foot Clan plays sluggish, it scrolls sluggish, movement when there are a lot of enemies on the screen is sluggish.  However this is something that can be quickly adjusted to after a little bit of play time.  Thankfully jumping and attack controls are fast and responsive.  The attack and jump buttons can be swapped, and unheard of level of customizability in these early Gameboy games.  Jump height is controlled by how long the jump button is held down, just like with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game.  Once one gets used to working within the speed in which the levels advance when walking then there won't be any problems.

Replay:  Replay is pretty much nonexistent, five stages and that's it.  There are a few secret areas that can be found early on where one of three mini-games can be played to replenish the life meter but it's not a huge draw.  Anyone that has played a few times should be able to find these secret areas and after that the game becomes a straight shot.  The levels are long enough and there's enough challenge to keep the game fun so for a quick run-through here and there the game is a perfect addition.  The ability to play any single level at any time makes the game a good time killer and I suppose that adds to the replay value somewhat.

Final Verdict:  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Fall of the Foot Clan is easily one of the best games of the early days of the Gameboy and it still holds up well.  Anyone that is a TMNT fan probably has had a copy since its release years ago.  It's one of those games that is a good quick diversion yet has enough meat to warrant some serious play time when available.  A little bit of a platformer and a little bit of a beat 'em up but a good game on both accounts.

Written on 03-24-06 by David, insanedavid@classicplastic.net

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