Doing an”unbox” of an arcade game is not exactly done with frequency but when the opportunity arises, I do try and film it. This week was a very rare event for me at the arcade – it’s the only week I can recall since I opened that two new products arrived. Usually, such arrivals are spread out to a once or a couple of times per year. The other game that I wanted to get unboxing footage of but it took too long to setup was Redline Rampage by GlobalVR. I received a pair of Need For Speed Underground machines and set about converting them to Redline. The problem was that they arrived when I wasn’t at my store (the shipping company didn’t call in advance like they were supposed to), then it was relatively busy with customers as I was getting the machines setup and inspected…then it took a few days of troubleshooting to figure out everything as there were a few problems with the components in the existing cabs. Suffice it to say, I was really busy this week.
Anyways, onto Turtles.
Since I first heard about this game last year, I had been looking forward to it. When I was about 8-9 years old, I was a big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon show and the live action movies. I remember watching the first two films on VHS constantly and of course being up on time every Saturday morning to catch the show. Growing up, I also gained enjoyment of arcade brawlers/beat ’em ups like Double Dragon, Golden Axe and of course, Konami’s TMNT games. Seeing that a modern company was making a modernized version of a concept that was killed off by 1v1 fighters was a refreshing notion.
But most modern arcade developers have been hesitant to touch joystick games. They have a harder time earning than simulator style games since the joystick/button setup is easy to emulate at home. I recall in my first conversation with Eugene Jarvis (Raw Thrills CEO) around 2009 that we talked about joystick games briefly and he said that they just couldn’t cut it in the modern market – unless you had the right concept. Things have certainly changed over the past 10 years and Raw Thrills felt that now was the time to take a risk and after extensive testing, it was showing that it would pay off to resurrect the TMNT brawler concept.
I got my hands on the machine and here is an unboxing, software setup and some gameplay in all it’s glory. Some thoughts on the game itself after the video:
Now that I’ve had a chance to play the ‘final-final’ game, let’s talk about it. Yes, I have my bias in favor of Ninja Turtles and brawlers (and that I have picked one up for my arcade, which isn’t cheap); there is also the TMNT ad on the right side of this page but I should note that this review has not been paid for, just that ad on the side. With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s work past that to give you an honest opinion.
If you like Turtles In Time, then you should equally enjoy this. It plays just like an early 90s brawler – not overly complex but not super basic either. There are three action buttons – Attack, Jump and Turtle Power. Depending on the combination used (pressing both buttons at the same time, jumping, then pushing attack), you can get different attacks off. Each Turtle also has their nuances although it doesn’t ‘feel’ like playing as Donatello has any reach advantage over Raph. Which could be down to balancing as we all know which Turtle everyone went for at first ‘back in the day’.
The levels are long – I sat down and played through the whole thing this morning and I think it took me about 45 minutes although I didn’t time it like I probably should have. Each level has a mid-level boss to fight although when you get to Shredder’s Lair, you have to fight all of those bosses again excepting Krang and Krang Sub Prime. Pick-ups (boxes, power-ups like smoke bombs and shurikens) seem plentiful although it would be nice if the Assist power-up (that brings up something like Metal Head) was a little more randomized instead of showing up at the same crowd every time. The availability of interactive environmental items (like parking meters, fire hydrants) depends on the level since it doesn’t make sense for certain items to show up in the sewers but they are plentiful in NYC. That said, the Sewers have those, you just have to be on the look-out for them as they tend to be in the walls (such as round red pipe handles).
The balance of enemies and pacing is fine-tuned to keep you constantly on the go and you can expect to face more enemies than I recall fighting in Konami’s efforts. Moments like using your Turtle Power are satisfying (assuming you pull it off with a few enemies on screen), thanks to the booming sound package. The 200W audio system can really pump out the ‘feel’ of punches and strikes, particularly the ‘clanks’ of when you hit something metal like a Mouser. I have the volume at 15 and you can feel the vibrations from the subwoofer particularly during the TP event.
I’ve read complaints online about the graphical look but even though I didn’t catch most of the Nickelodeon series that it is based on, I don’t have a problem with it. It runs at 60fps, it has a higher color saturation to create some ‘pop’ and I didn’t notice any depth errors (I recall on the IAAPA version that the legs on the Turtles didn’t seem solidly connected at all angles but that has been fixed).
The cabinet has changed from the initial version with different artwork, a re-cut control panel, a re-designed marquee and additional LED T-Molding. It looks taller than I recall it at trade shows but the extra LED lighting also has made it brighter. This is really striking in a dark arcade environment but I do hope that RT adds the option to be able to adjust the brightness down the road as I would like to tone it down a couple of notches for my location (I’m not the only one – another op reached out to me desiring the same thing). That said, now that the initial surprise of that brightness has passed, I’m already used to it. All in all, it’s a mighty impressive cabinet that I wouldn’t call anything less than ‘vibrant’.
After having played through the entire game, it is totally worthy of a ‘cowabunga!’. Or five cowabungas out of five if we used a rating scale. It is fun and satisfying – something that is especially true of playing multiplayer. It should be interesting to see how it does this weekend, when I expect to see decent crowds with it being Mother’s Day weekend.
If you have played it, what are your thoughts?