Coming off a string of popular 2D brawlers, this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fighting game feels like the logical next step. With a cast of colorful characters and a whole arsenal of diverse weapons, the Turtles are a perfect fit in a Street Fighter II clone. And the good news is that it mostly works. It may not be able to stand up to the competition, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters is a solid first stab at the genre.
All things being equal, the Sega Genesis got a raw deal. Compared to the Super NES game (also called Tournament Fighters), this 512 color version is lacking. It tells a completely different story and offers a new batch of characters. What's more, this Genesis game only uses two buttons, half of what was available on Nintendo's 16-bitter.
Despite the differences, this version of Tournament Fighters isn't half bad. Each fighter has a punch and kick button, as well as a myriad of familiar moves. None of this feels very original, since most of the special attacks are borrowed wholesale from Street Fighter II and Fatal Fury. Raphael has M. Bison's psycho crusher, Leonardo does Chun Li's spinning bird kick, Sisyphus bear hugs like Zangeif and Michelangelo throws hurricanes like Joe Higashi. You've seen this all before.
The story involves Splinter getting kidnapped by evil Turtle clones. It turns out that Krang has set up a fighting tournament in Dimension X and the hero turtles have been invited. Thankfully this foursome won't be going it alone. Along for the ride are April O'Neil, Casey Jones and somebody named Sisyphus. From there you jump from planet to planet fighting evil clones of the selectable characters.
While the different planets are interesting, they lack the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flavor you expect from Tournament Fighters. Instead of fighting in sewers and city streets, our heroes go head-to-head on a fire planet with a large lava monster looking on. The ice and plant levels are certainly cool looking, but they aren't what I was expecting. It often felt like the Mutant Turtles were added into somebody else's game.
While not as good as the Super NES game, there was enough in this Genesis version of Teeange Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters to hold my interest. It's far from perfect, thanks in large part to the limited gameplay and disappointing cast of characters. Even with these problems, I had a lot of fun sightseeing through Dimension X.