On Test: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

arcadehero October 23, 2017 4

UPDATE: We have added some corrections to the story courtesy of Raw Thrills. Each one is clearly marked.

No sooner did we break the¬†news that Raw Thrills is going to launch a new version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to arcades than we have a reader coming across said game on test! I’ll be getting my own impressions of the game here in a few weeks from IAAPA but if you can’t wait until then, here’s what reader Shane Muir had to say about the game. As a disclaimer, do remember that any number of changes can happen to a game before release so some of what is mentioned could only apply to the test version of the game and not the wide release. Nothing has been said about when that release will happen, so just keep that in mind ūüėČ

For starters, the game is currently on test at the Round1USA location in Aurora, IL. Raw Thrills had mentioned to me that it was on test but didn’t say where; they also were pleased with the initial numbers that the game was drawing in.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2018

Muir describes his first impressions of the cabinet as thus, finding the green-lit marquee to look quite striking, creating a strong impression when you approach it.

The whole machine is exceedingly tall with the marquee on, easily in the 8-9 foot range as reported.

Cabinet artwork is nicely done. The whole thing is decked out in graphics that have a nice appeal. The LED t-molding is nice as well, but that’s fairly standard with any of Raw Thrills’ cabinets at this point

If you’ve ever wondered why modern arcade games are so tall, its because they are shown to earn better. Just make sure your venues have higher ceilings.

TMNT On Test

On the control panel:

Control panel station consist of a LED color changing joystick, a lit rectangular start button, a large lit green Turtle Power Button, and color coordinated convex translucent buttons (that weren’t back lit on this machine). The setup is intuitive for brawlers…¬†There’s also an oval around the joystick on each station that doesn’t really make a ton of sense. Not sure if it’s a protective plate or something else.

Raw Thrills game producer Matt Cianchetti. reached out to me to correct information about how the buttons work: “These buttons¬†are¬†illuminated.¬† All buttons light up and pulse during the attract mode as well as gameplay.¬† Also, each set of attack/jump buttons are color coordinated to the specific turtle.¬† (Blue for Leo, Purple for Donnie, etc)¬† One other note:¬† During gameplay, only active terminals will have lit buttons.¬† Inactive terminals will remain ‚Äúdark‚ÄĚ until someone joins in on that terminal.¬† ¬†For example, if Raphael and Leo are the only turtles active, the other two turtle terminals will be unlit.¬† We did this to clarify the active terminals to the player when the game is being played.

Here’s a snap; the joysticks look exactly the same as what was used on Galaga Assault (backlit with LEDs and use HAPP cherry switches). The oval plate is also a part of those joysticks but it has a different piece of art attached to it. :

TMNT 2018 Control Layout

On the software, his thoughts were generally positive. The test version features “two of three stages” that can be selected by the player but Matt at Raw Thrills stated that “the final release will have 4 stages. The fourth stage will be unlocked after the main three stages are completed.” The game does lock your turtle to a particular player station (like the Konami games did; also correction as I originally had ‘does not’ in there). Player spots as shown on the bezel above the screen has¬†Leo as P1, Mikey as P2, Donnie as P3, and Raph as P4. Raw Thrills also wanted to correct something about the colored lines that point to the character. I originally mentioned that it borrows an idea from Namco’s Pac-Man Battle Royale that has a colored line pointing to your character. Raw Thrills corrected: “The color coded ID lines only appear at the beginning of the levels and after camera cuts like boss intros or turtle powers.¬† It does not stay on all the time like Pac-Man Battle Royale.

Back to the original impressions, Shane added:

After having played about six credits worth of games, my general impression is “This feels like a proper evolution on Turtles In Time.” [although] this game isn’t out to munch quarters as hard as the originals.¬†I’m encouraged by what I played.

…you can now attack in all directions, but so can your enemies. You’re no longer limited to attacking just left and right…you can slam the foot robots up and down now instead of just side to side. Yes, dashing, slamming enemies back and forth, and throwing enemies at the screen return. But you can be thrown at the screen now as well.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Screenshot

You still have your life consuming attack by hitting both attack and jump at the same time. The turbo pizza power up still exists (as a turtle shell), and standard pizza for health refills. You can pick up some items like trash cans and throw them at enemies, along with the old standby techniques of “hitting a fire hydrant to cause the cap to bust out at your enemy. There are even a couple of new items to grab. Namely, smoke bombs that disable the whole screen of enemies for a few seconds, and shuriken packs.

Your turtles still control fairly snappy, though jumping didn’t feel quite as tight as it did in the older generation games. Attacks don’t appear out of place, and enemies still react with roughly the same AI as the original games. You also get attacks out of the background, like cars driving through an intersection.

The game keeps track of combos, and the more combos you can string together, the quicker you can get your Turtle Power attack. Essentially, the game wants you to go on a tear of hitting as many enemies as you can, as quick as you can to build up your super attack.

With a charged Turtle Power gauge, you release a shock attack that wipes out any regular enemies on screen, and does somewhere in the range of 20% damage to a boss.

To add on to the Turtle Power gauge, Matt at Raw Thrills added: “Combos fill the turtle power meter faster, however, any successful attack will also help add to the turtle power meter.

For some criticisms of the game, Shane kept that mainly for the cabinet design. As he stands at 6′ 2″ tall, he found the control panel distance and monitor angle to be a problem for his build. I personally stand about 5′ 4″ so when I come across the machine, my view will likely be different and so on.

Before we get to that, Raw Thrills stated the following about their decision for the cabinet design: “The control panel for our TMNT game is considerably wider than the arcade originals and should provide ample space for 4 people to play the game with the proper non-angled joystick orientation.¬† ¬†We wanted to avoid angles because it is a lot more awkward to play.¬† The wider control panel affords us the luxury of having the player orientation with a straight angle view of the 55‚ÄĚ monitor for all four terminals.¬† Also, tilting the monitor backward and placing it lower as the reviewer suggested would make the game¬†harder¬†for little kids to view, not easier.¬† Small children are going to be looking upwards and would see less of the monitor if it was pitched away from them.¬† Obviously, opinions on cabinet design can be subjective but we always put a lot of thought into making sure Raw Thrills cabinets are accessible to adults as well as kids and TMNT is no different in that regard.” They also stated that on the jump timing that “the timing is almost identical to the original arcade games.

Shane’s original comments:

[I had] to move my head to be able to focus on different parts of the screen…The control panel, for me, was too low.¬†It’s actually a good height for small children. If RT was aiming for that, they nailed it.

…the depth provided by the control panel puts your face a bit too close to the monitor. The position of the monitor is also actually a bit too high and is completely upright. My eye level was near the top of the screen

If shrinking to a smaller screen isn’t feasible, the monitor needs to shift lower and be installed with a backwards tilt. The way it stands right now, any children playing this game will have to crane their heads back like they just took an uppercut to the chin to be able to see what’s going on in the game. Just put the speakers above the monitor and give them a slight angle down.

TMNT Front panel

Control panel – Take the cue from all the late 80’s/early 90’s Konami four players and angle your players away from center and each other. Nobody wants to be shoulder to shoulder with anyone while playing a game.¬†¬†Consider switching to a two coin/swipe door setup with a door between Leo/Mike and a door between Don/Raph.

Software –¬†¬†The Turtle Power cutscene needs to be greatly reduced after the first time it happens in a game.

If RT can correct those cabinet issues and some minor software stuff, there’s no reason this game won’t be in a position to succeed.

I appreciate getting this detailed look at the game, so thanks again to Shane for sharing that and the photos. I also want to thank Raw Thrills for clearing up a few things about it. There has been A LOT of interest in the game judging by what I’ve seen coming in so it looks like gamers are really excited to have this kind of game back in arcades again. We’ll have more info soon!


  1. Dustin Wilcox October 23, 2017 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    It sounds AWESOME.

  2. Jdevy October 23, 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I honestly think Shane’s feedback on how the cabinet would work out definitely needs to be taken into consideration by RT. If this does as well as The Walking Dead/Jurassic Park, I really wonder if they’re going to make another brawler for arcades. The Simpsons, maybe?

  3. Shane Muir October 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm - Reply


    To be clear, to wave nerd resume, and so everyone understands my basis on my thoughts: I’m an Operator (specializing in leasing to events) as well as having grown up on this type of game. My stable specifically consists of basically all of the major four players out there, with the crown jewel basically being that I’m the only person anyone in the world knows of running Ninja Baseball Bat Man as a four player. Legitimate two stack board as well.

    I’ll just go with Matt C’s points in order.

    Button lighting: I’m glad the buttons are supposed to be lit when active. I was a bit busy actually playing the game so I may have missed them being lit because of that. If they’re not working on the test location, it may be something as simple as having become jarred loose in transit. That happens.

    Colored Lines for player location: I was a bit torn on them initially, but I did notice that they’re not around as much in game play. It’s something that came up when I was standing at the machine talking to a friend and they were active a lot during attract mode.

    Player station lock: Yeah, that was something that got lost in editing. Station lock is a good thing in this type of game.

    Four stages: Good. Manhattan was actually fun to play through and TCRI had some great old school flair to it. I’m looking forward to it.

    Turtle Power/Combo System: As soon as I noticed there was a combo system, I made it a point to try to string together as many combos as I could and noticed the bump in how fast turtle power raised. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Sengoku 3’s combo system (Neo Go MVS), and it’s one of my favorite features of the software.

    Monitor Placement/Viewing angle: I can only really work from the view point I have for my height. I completely understand the height of the control panel being where it is. It’s actually fine for average height and below (and I suspect Arcadehero won’t have a problem with it at IAPPA). R1’s head tech is considerably shorter than me and he had no issues with it whatsoever. The problem with building that way is that with the target audience, the game will rarely have JUST children playing. There will be parents playing, and some of them are tall like I am.

    All of the problems with the monitor would be solved if there was a solid way to get a bit more depth between the range that a player’s head will be and where the monitor is located. Again, I’m a bit of an outlier for being so tall, but having to crouch down to get to the controls naturally pushes my face closer to the screen and causes fatigue. Even R1’s head tech felt the screen was a little too close for comfort.

    Control panel size: I wholeheartedly disagree with there not being a need to angle controls off slightly. My grounds on this is that while the panel itself is wider (thank you for doing this), it’s not appropriately wide enough to account for straight ahead use. I tested that specifically with the R1 tech with him on Donatello and myself on Mikey. It wasn’t pleasant, and there was nobody on Leo and Raph at that point. As much as you’re trying to get head on, Leo and Raph are going to need to be angled somewhat to alleviate any crowding whenever an adult decides to play. Remember, this is a nation of overweight to obese people.

    Jump physics: If it’s close to identical, it’s fine. It didn’t feel like a huge difference to me, but I’m exceptionally attuned to how these games play.

    Again, I think the game (even in it’s early state) is pretty good. I actually played a credit, walked away and talked to some people for a while, then came back for more. That’s a hallmark of a good game. I just feel the cabinet isn’t quite there.

    I may be back up there tomorrow to play some more.

    • RockmanKB October 27, 2017 at 8:03 am - Reply

      Loving your comments and insight into the game Shane! I am super excited for it (especially after you comparing the combo system to Sengoku 3) and can’t wait to get my hands on it.

      Is there any way you could get some footage of the gameplay? Or is it looked down on to film game footage on a location test?

      Thanks for all the info you’ve given so far!

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