REVIEW: TINY ARCADE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Thanks once again to Shaun Musgrave for bringing this product to my attention. Follow him on Twitter HERE and read his work over at TouchArcade.

Arcades, locations that people once had to visit, have found their ways into homes, and that’s not exactly a bad thing right now given the present state of the world. Companies like Arcade1up are doing big business resurrecting beloved cabinets for nostalgic players to put in their basements and game rooms, even going as far to bring back licensed comic book classics from the likes of Capcom and Konami.

Of course, not everyone has the necessary space or funds for machines of the caliber that Arcade1up have been producing, which is why companies like New Wave Toys and their Replicade line as well as Super Impulse’s wave of Tiny Arcade machines have been a blessing. Though these units don’t come close to emulating the arcade experience, they’re great machines for those on budgets who have fond memories of an era long since past.

Normally the units produced on the smaller scale tend to be of titles free of licensing hurdles, but Super Impulse surprised consumers with a shrunken down version of Konami’s beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from 1989. Though the outer shell – pun intended – makes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a great piece to sit on a shelf, especially at its low asking price of around $40 CAD, those looking to experience the actual game had best look elsewhere.

Measuring at around 3.5 inches in height, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an adorably small recreation of the cabinet. When turned on, the marquis even lights up and overall it’s a nice piece to look at with some solid build quality. There’s a keychain piece hanging from the back, but it’s not recommended that you use it in this way. For one, the unit won’t fit comfortably in your pocket and while not heavy, it’s clumsy enough that you would notice its heft.

It’s too bad then that the game housed within the unit simply isn’t that fun to play. If you squint hard enough, you can make out iconic moments from the arcade game, but you’re going to have to do so really intensely. The before and after mission cut-scenes are in here, but none of the music, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song, are present. Instead be prepared to here the one tedious tune loop over and over. Overall the sound across the board is poor with only two sound effects: one for when you hit enemies and another for when they hit you. Luckily there’s an option to turn down the music and sound effects volume.

The stage layouts are the same, you even fight the likes of Rocksteady, Bebop and Baxter Stockman, but the colors don’t pop and there are many missing frames of animation. Movement has a jerky quality about it that’s from the elegant flow and movement that come from controlling the arcade game.

Speaking of controls, this cabinet doubles the number of buttons from two to four. Whereas before you had one button for jump and another attack, here you have independent inputs dedicated for leaping and hitting left and right. It makes the experience somewhat clumsy, but it’s also a somewhat smart compromise as the tiny nub on the machine is no trade off for a proper joystick.

It’s still difficult to move around though, especially when you need to quickly dodge out of the way of a car that’s coming at you where a hit equals a lost life. You get four lives here and once they’re gone, it’s back to the start. The key to success here is moving slow and methodically, for if Foot Soldiers manage to gang up on you, it’s easy to lose huge chunks of your health due to your inability to escape. It should also be noted that hopefully you’re favorite character is Donatello as he’s the only playable hero here.

It’s never not exciting to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989) come back in any form, and at the very least the cabinet design here doesn’t disappoint. The included game on the other hand is very much a let down and something you’re only really going to play a few times at most or show your friends when they see it resting on your shelf. That all being said, this will make a great surprise to put in a stocking this holiday season for fans of the property.

Tiny Arcade Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is available now.

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