Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quite recently I fired up my favorite NES emulator and sat down to try out 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' -- a game I remember playing as a kid. Now, the thing about this game, is that my memories of it weren’t exactly the best. What I remember of the game was mostly feelings of anger, frustration, and confusion, and apparently I was not alone in having these emotions. Many people over the years have come to the conclusion that the TMNT game is fairly terrible by most standards, and yet it was still a game that people bought and supported, triggering sequels (thankfully, much better ones) to be produced.

Giving Turtles another chance as an adult, I found that most of my original memories were correct. The game is a bit odd. Admittedly, it does have a bit of that Ninja Turtles feel to it, and there are plenty of familiar faces throughout. But, in many ways it’s almost like the TMNT 'intellectual property' was used by people that didn’t really understand what they were doing, and thus the result is this strange, hodgepodge game that has enemies and scenarios that don’t really fit within the universe itself.

SNES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I mean, one of the enemies is some shirtless guy with a chainsaw, and in the words of one YouTuber, I’ll echo that I don’t recall an episode of the original cartoon when Leather Face came to visit. Plus, beyond the strange bugs, robots, and other enemies that don’t really fit the franchise, there’s the fact that the game is unfairly hard in many places and the difficulty curve is very intense after the first couple of areas (that lake you swim through to disarm the bombs and save the dam is just downright brutal. If you don’t believe me, go look up that scene!).

The thing is, Ultra’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is just one example of IP-milking that happened in the late 1980s and early 90s as developers for the original NES, Sega Genesis, and Super Nintendo, clamored to capitalize as best they could off of popular movies of the time -- with ads along the lines of “Predator, the movie, now an action-packed game on your Nintendo Entertainment System!!”. Kids, teens, and, yep, even adults would get suckered into buying these at-home game experiences that they thought might have the feel of “being in the movie”. To be fair, though, there were some games that actually worked within this set-up and were very fun movie-to-game adaptations. Yet saying that, a fair number were just as horrible, terrible abominations of video games that really should never, ever, have been made (E.T. on the Atari is one notorious example!).

Friday the Thirteenth Game
Friday the Thirteenth
'Friday the Thirteenth', the game? Yeah!!, you might tell yourself, I bet that one’s super-awesome! Well, you’d be WRONG! In this specific case, I could tell that the developers wanted to make a scary game, and as a little kid I recall it being a bit unsettling as you went from cabin to cabin to check on the campers and see whether Jason was there or not. But, as you can guess, the novelty wore off pretty quickly, as you would get annoyed at how over-powered Jason is, how he would often spawn on the total opposite side of the map so that you had little hope to get to the endangered kids in time, and that combat in the game was rather lame in many ways. It was also a game that, besides saving the kids, you likely found yourself scratching your head as far as figuring out what you needed to do to actually beat the game.

Then, there’s games like 'Predator', which in terms of gaming is just awful, with poor controls, strange enemies, and a nonsensical design (after you kill the Predator, you find that there are more of them out there, for some reason). I also never figured out why the grenade weapon in that game was called “Pine” in the in-game menu, and also why the grenade was practically useless and weaker than your punches.

Batman: The Video Game
Batman Returns
On the other end of the spectrum you get games like 'Batman: The Video Game' that actually handled things pretty well. That game was released in 1990 in the U.S. for the NES and the next year even got an updated Sega Genesis port (which was cool, as the 16-bit graphics were actually a nice upgrade versus the NES game) and in many ways was about as faithful an adaptation as you could get for translating the 1989 film into a platforming game. The music in the game was fairly memorable as well, the gameplay was actually very cool, and the graphics, even on the NES version, were detailed and kept the gothic feel of the DC universe.

Disney’s movies generally fared pretty well when adapted for home consoles. One memorable example of a movie that felt right when brought to the home console was 'Aladdin'. There were actually two major versions of the game produced (not counting mobile ports or versions), one coming to the Sega Genesis/Mega-Drive from 'Virgin Interactive' and the other hitting the Super Nintendo by 'Capcom'. And, both of those games had their own spin on gameplay, with the Genesis version featuring sword-play and an overall different type of platforming experience, while the SNES version was a flashier platform game with some pretty whacky stage designs (like the “inside the lamp” area).

Predator In Swing Park
Predator Having Fun
From games like 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' and 'Predators', I learned not to get sucked in by advertisements on games based on movies that I enjoyed. I just got burned out on experiences like that, so when I was a little bit older I’d turn to reading magazines like 'Nintendo Power' in order to get a better understanding of how these games were and if they were worth asking my parents for, or asking Santa for, as it were. And, really, being discerning isn’t a bad thing at all. Sometimes we have more money than sense, and so having the ability to wade through things before making impulse buys is important. As a kid, though, it wasn’t my money (not until I was older), and so I guess I really didn’t care. Still, it’s a bit sad on Christmas day to unwrap a game and be very excited about it only to shove it in the console, flick on the power, and discover that it’s a dud of a game.


So, with movies getting translated to video games back in the 80s and early 90s we saw that it was rather hit and miss, but what about the idea of taking a beloved game series and trying to adapt that to the big screen? How did that fare? Well, that one’s probably a story for another day, I think, but I can likely sum it up for now with one title: Super Mario Bros. The Movie. Yeah, that one. Ugh.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s column, as I enjoyed writing it for you, and I also enjoyed (in an odd, cheesy way) firing up a couple of these “classics” to give them a shot under a new lens.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the topic. Stay tuned for more crafty content coming your way! This installment of Jessica's Journey was written by Jessica “Allahweh” Brown from GamingGoddess.Net.


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