Joint Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (Arcade), and The Simpsons (Arcade)

I can say with 60% certainty that my local roller skating rink (now demolished) had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time arcade cabinet.  I can say with 100% certainty that my local bowling alley (still open) had a Simpsons arcade cabinet (and possibly still does).  And I can say with 100% certainty that my friend had TMNT: Turtles in Time for Super Nintendo.  Either way, these are two classic arcade brawlers with a lot in common that are sort of boring to play without quarters.

These games are reviewed together because they are similar. They were both arcade games released in 1991 from Konami.  The biggest difference is The Simpsons is a four player game and TMNT is a two player game. Both games are two button brawlers (jump and attack) where you’re generally fighting the same enemy type over and over.  The real fun of both games is looking at the graphics (in which TMNT has a bit of an edge), and listening to the music and sound, both of which have voice samples, and both of which use the same sound chip.  Both games are designed to eat quarters, although neither is nearly as unforgiving in this regard as, say, Metal Slug.

Onto some differences.  TMNT’s story revolves around Krang stealing the Statue of Liberty, and Shredder opening a portal in time to keep you from getting it back.  You travel through some American history like Wounded Knee, and move on to the (distant) future of 2020 A.D., where there’s a neo-metropolis, and also the year 2100 A.D. fought on a space base.  You finally make it back to New York to fight Shredder, who’s pretty darn tough.  Once the battle ends, the turtles return Lady Liberty to Liberty Island.  Roll credits.

Meanwhile, in The Simpsons, Smithers and Mr. Burns steal Maggie after she replaces her pacifier with a diamond jewel.  You travel to Springfield locations such as Moe’s Tavern, Channel 6, “Dreamland”, and last, the nuclear power plant, chasing Smithers carrying Maggie.  In the end you fight Smithers, and then Mr. Burns in a robot suit.  Once both are defeated, Maggie is released, and the Simpsons have a happy family moment.  Roll credits.

Again, you’re generally fighting the same enemies throughout both games.  In TMNT, it’s Foot Soldiers, in The Simpsons, it’s business people in suits (likely henchmen of Mr. Burns).  The Simpsons has two button-mashing mini games, but the overall game is shorter by about ten minutes.  Both games have health items.  In TMNT, it’s always pizza, where in The Simpsons, it could be any number of things, from apples to hoagies (grinders, subs, or whatever you call them).  TMNT has a pizza box with a bomb on in, that, when consumed, has you spinning around destroying every enemy in sight.  In The Simpsons, there are multi-use weapons like a slingshot, and single use weapons like a bowling ball.

It’s hard to believe arcade brawlers were so popular that the same company would make two in the same year, especially considering how expensive arcade hardware was to produce.  The games aren’t as fun with unlimited continues.  Instead, it’s better to play where every hit you take gets you closer to losing another quarter.  But alas, these are two very similar games that were fun at the skating rink or the bowling alley but haven’t aged especially well.

Score for both games: 3/5


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