Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot Clan

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot Clan - Game Boy (1990)

This entry is part 8 of 30 in the series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Striving for world dominance, naturally the handheld market needed a shellshocker of its own to cash in on the incredible popularity of TMNT. Enter Fall of The Foot Clan, the first TMNT game to appear on the Game Boy handheld system. The game was designed by Naoki Matsui, who had previously worked as a graphics designer on Vampire Killer and Gradius on the MSX. When Konami ceased their support of that system, the MSX team was formed into a Game Boy team, headed by Matsui. This was his first assignment under his new job title.

Conceptually, Fall of The Foot Clan is more or less an extremely downsized and scaled back version of the NES game, basing itself around the same story with Master Splinter and April having been kidnapped by Shredder and the Foot, and the brothers setting out through New York to save them. The only major deviation is the stage that takes place in the Hudson River itself, though this time there is no bombs and no swimming required.

As expected the game lets you choose between all four turtles, though this time around it is strictly a single player experience with no ability to link up or take turns. Each turtle makes use of their respective weapons, and in addition to a strike with these they can also perform a flykick midair as well as throw an unlimited amount of shurikens by striking while crouching down. Apart from the visual representation of the weapons, there are no major difference between the way the turtles act or operate, being complete equals to one another.

There are five stages in total, all being straightforward platform game material, with a bit of jumping over barrels and a few enemies jumping into frame for you to strike down. The standard enemy is the Foot Soldier, the mechanical ninjas as well as Wheel-Bots and Mousers. There are also some new enemies, such as the fantastically coined “Filet ‘o Filth” and Rabbid Mad Bats. Each stage ends with a boss, which are all familiar names such as Rocksteady, Bebop, Baxter Stockman, Shredder and Krang.

Fall of The Foot Clan seems to be something of a homage to Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja from Data East. Not just in the similarity of gameplay, walking left and right to take out ninjas, but in the way the levels are set up. In Fall of the Foot Clan, the turtles go through the streets (and sewers) of New York, before taking to the streets on top of speeding trucks, before heading into caves and finally infiltrating the bad guys’s lair, the Technodrome. Mirror that to Dragon Ninja, where you take on the streets, go on top of speeding trucks, go through a cave before infiltrating the secret ninja layer. There are some filler in between in both games, but the general set up is pretty much identical.

With only five stages total, the levels themselves are a bit on the long side, often split into three different sections before the boss fight at the end. Here, you’ll be challenged with all sorts of obstacles, be it the resistance from the Foot, to environmental hazards like falling blocks and spiked ceilings. There are multiple bonuses on each stage, from hidden pizzas to secret rooms with mini games to earn a higher score. These mini games consist of guessing the number Master Splinter has in mind, the second one is a fight with Krang (which begs the question why the TMNT don’t just take him out during this friendly bonus game) where you have to take out as many stars as possible without being the last one to remove a star, and the third is a little target shooter.

But, even for a handheld title, this game is all to short and all too easy. In fact it is so easy that it can be completed in less than 30 minutes even if you don’t play at your fullest concentration. There is little challenge to the enemies or bosses, the game moves very slowly, so you always have the time to properly react and set up your attack.

It does look great for its time however. Even though the Game Boy had been out for exactly one year by the time of its release, for the most part it was still dealing with first generation graphics with smaller sprites and minimal detail. Here, the sprites are filling near half the screen, and apart from some lack of diversity between the brothers, they look great, and so does most of the enemies. The boss sprites are truly gorgeous to look at, as they are huge and highly detailed, in some ways looking even better than the arcade versions from the year before. The backgrounds, whenever there is any, look very attractive as well. The music was handled by none other than future Symphony of the Night composer Michiru Yamane, though sadly the game doesn’t ever gain much momentum in the sound department. There are some good original tracks, such as the eerie sewer tune, but for the most part it’s an entirely forgettable soundtrack, and some of the sound effects are just deafening.

Fall of the Foot Clan is an alright game considering the era it was released, and looks and feels much greater than, say, Kung Fu Master on the same platform. It just seems to suffer from being rushed, from its short length to the lack of proper backgrounds in many places and the lack of true diversity. Some enemy sprites are just taken from other games with little modification, leading them to look out of place, like the mini-choppers who are taken straight from The Arcade Game and look completely flat, to the rabbit bats that are just moved over from The Castlevania Adventure.

It’s fun though, no doubt about that, it’s just not a classic game which makes you come back again other than for the nostalgia.

The cover art for this game actually has an interesting story. Originally set to be the poster art for the first live action movie, it was sketched by co-creator Kevin Eastman. However, in order to differentiate it from the cartoon and comics so that audience would understand this was a live action feature, it was shelved and put in the archives. It was later retooled and used as the art for this game.


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