Think back to when you were a child. If you can remember when arcades were still a thing, odds are the Ninja Turtles featured in your childhood in some capacity. The Teenage Mutant Ninja (or Hero if you lived in the UK) Turtles have a long history. They originally featured as a dark satire comic in 1984 which was followed by various versions through the ensuing years. The franchise spilled from the comic book pages to children’s cartoons, toys and various live and animated movies and of course video games.
TMNT Rescue Palooza is a side scrolling brawler which features an incredible and impressive array of Turtles characters. The team behind this creation have plundered from the best of the back catalog of this franchise and presented it lovingly to fellow fans. Let’s get this out of the way first, this is a fan made title, it’s free and it’s fabulous but it’s crafted with such polish that you would believe that this was a game from a large commercial publishing house.
In story mode, up to four players start with the famous four turtles. Using an overhead map reminiscent of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES released in 1984, players can select from a variety of levels. Each of these is a callback to past games or cartoon episodes.
The gameplay is a straight up retro brawler, characters can walk, run, jump and attack. Button combinations perform special moves, for example pressing down and attack throws your enemies. Each character also has their own special attack, which uses a meter based system. For added variety, there are a handful of vehicles which can be found and commandeered for a limited time.
Levels are populated by a multitude of adversaries from the typical never ending hordes of foot soldiers to Pizza monsters, robots and more. True to style this game features boss battles and these feature some of the most engaging and memorable moments in the game. Enemies from all across the turtle’s rogue’s gallery make an appearance. From the classic Bebop and Rocksteady, War from Tournament Fighters and even Tatsu from the original live action movie.
Completing a level doesn’t just progress the game. It also unlocks new playable characters, from both the turtle’s friends and allies. Ever thought that Mondo Gecko, Irma and Cyber-Shredder would make a good team? Now is your chance to find out.
After some levels Cudley the Cowlick will appear. Cudley is a trans-dimensional being from the Archie comics run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who looks like a floating cows head. Activating it takes players to a random bonus level where challenges can be attempted to win additional lives.
Once you have tried story mode there is also an Arcade Mode where players can pick from every character already unlocked. Playing through these levels will unlock even more Turtles goodness and soon you will have a treasure trove of Turtles history playable throughout the game.
The visuals are heavily inspired by retro, with many sprites and levels using classic TMNT graphics as a base. Across the board these have been reimagined and given some gloss but the best element of the graphics is the underlying feel of the originals still there. The game is rounded out with a chip tunes musical score pulled from classic turtles sources as well as a handful of inspired original pieces.
This fan made title is a nostalgic trip down memory lane to an era which most of us have never forgotten. It’s an ode to the days where we had few stresses except fighting over who was going to be Leonardo. It’s a love note to the weekends of pizza, pop and sitting with your friends beside you beating a game.