Review by HazardHarj
What a disappointment
For starters, in the name of fairness I will try to judge Tournament Fighters for the Genesis based solely on its own merits and/or faults and not those of the SNES game of the same title (which, by the way, is better in every single way). I have to, however, express a certain measure of dismay. Why, oh why, is the Genesis incarnation of this game so incredibly inferior to its SNES counterpart? It's not only blatant from minute one, it's also maddening! Still, I will try to remain impartial.
I'm not going to spend too much time on the story, but it centers around the idea that Krang has cloned our four heroes in his most recent effort to take over our dimension. This is supposed to explain why the turtles have to beat eachother up. I can live with that I guess, although it gives us a pretty pathetic cast of pickable fighters. The Turtles, their clones (which are precisely the same as the Turtles, except for their slowed-down "menacing' voices) Kasey "unbeatable move" Jones, April, who doesn't look like April, Ray Filet and the laughable Sisyphus, who someone thought would make a better addition to this game than Shredder.
You'll be let down if you're expecting a hardcore fighter out of this and it's your own fault. The fighting engine isn't the most advanced but aside from Kasey Jones' game-breaking invincible move (more on this later), it's pretty balanced. The controls are fine--meaning you'll be able to pull off the move you're trying to do more often than not (I've played many throwaway fighters on the home system where this is NOT the case, believe me, so this is not to be overlooked) "Desperation attacks" that work somewhat like super combos also add another dimension to the game. Characters have a variety of basic Street Fighter-like moves to keep things interesting, but as a fighting game it's quite mediocre.
Visually, this game is horribly unimpressive. Too bad, too, because a brilliant graphical realization of these characters is what this game needed--frankly there are just plain better fighters out there and it can't compete in gameplay alone. The turtles looked better in the arcade game or even Hyperstone Heist than in this bland fighter. Most of the character sprites are well-designed, I guess, (excepting the uninspired Sisyphus, gender-bending Karai and the April that looks like a MUCH lamer incarnation of Blaze from Streets of Rage. What the heck?) but they are stiff and poorly animated and strangely lacking in color. A nasty lima bean green is used to color the turtles and a puke-inducingly muted purply-blue is used on EVERYTHING else.
On top of this, the backgrounds are not only monochrome, but distractingly empty also. Hey, Mike, what're we fighting on? Brains? A cell-membrane? I don't know, Raph I think it's a poorly-rendered nebula or perhaps a foggy pink room...or something. Exceptions are Triceraton's background, littered with dino skeletons and the interior of the infamous Technodrome we're treated to. The effects are pretty disappointing also. Visually, this game just never comes to life. Even the cut-scenes telling the stupid story look bad.
The sound and music is mostly unremarkable. Nothing that stands out, but there's nothing that's really annoying, either. Every sound generated by the lame-o Sisyphus, however, just makes me laugh but I won't count this against the game. I was mostly pleased with the voice acting also. (except that April lasciviously taunts "Come on, baby" like Mae West. Why does Konami think she's a hooker of some kind?)
This game is also a lot more difficult than it probably should be. Konami took the lazy route and merely increased the cheapness of the boss characters 100-fold rather than develop some sort of challenging AI. The end-result is an indescribably frustrating final battle with the cheapest boss ever to appear in a 2D fighter. If you're fighting him (her?) with anyone but Kasey Jones, you're wasting your time and if he/she (it?) manages to land a hit before you can start up your lame-looking invincibility move, you may as well put your controller down. If you do, however, trudge your way through this tedium, you will be rewarded for your trouble with a high-pitched, taunting laugh from the transvestite final boss unless you have this game on the highest difficulty (I don't consider this a spoiler because there's nothing to spoil). This is a lame way to give the game replayability, but once you've learned Kasey Jones' Secret Game-Breaking Dance Move, the bosses, despite their cheapness, are easily-defeated anyway.
But wait, there's an "extra" tournament mode, in which you square off against 88 consecutive opponents with one health bar. This might be cool, but the 88 opponents are the same 8 we've seen already recycled several times over. You know, I take it back--even if there were 80 brand new characters, this mode would still be stupid, because you wouldn't get past the first 15 (sooner or later, you'll get tired of watching Kasey Jones spin around) The inclusion of this ridiculous, unbeatable (provided you were a big enough moron that this idea would even sound fun to you) mode of play as an extra to cover up how hastily this stinker of a game was thrown together is the biggest insult of all. Do you honestly think Konami will reward you for beating this mode? We'll never know because no one ever will, but my money's on no.
Clearly, no one cared about making this game. All the real heart went into the SNES version and the let the night clean-up crew bang out this one. Not only do we get a sub-par representation of the cast of characters (Shredder out, Sisyphus in? Come on...) but there was no time spent on making the ones that do appear look any good. This, unfortunately, is just a product of laziness.
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