Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers - Game Boy (1991)

This entry is part 9 of 30 in the series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

A year after the release of Fall of the Foot Clan, a sequel was produced based around much of the same premise as its predecessor. Taking over the directorial throne from Matsui was Fukui Hiroyuki, who would go on to work on several other cartoon properties on the Game Boy, such as Batman: The Animated Series and Tiny Toons.

The game itself is more or less an updated version of the first Game Boy game. In fact, the title screen in both the US and European version excludes the numeral representation in the title in game, though the subtitle does allude to it being a follow up. Regardless, things are largely unchanged storyline-wise: April has been kidnapped and the quartet in a half shell have to go through New York to find her and the Technodrome.

But the game hosts a number of much needed improvements in almost every other aspect. Like always, the choice between all four turtles is possible before any stage, but their range, strength and abilities have been increased. The usual roles are applied to the turtles, and added to their overall moveset is a special sliding kick, while the infinite shurikens have been replaced by a more effective jab. Turtles can even climb ceilings and interact more with the actual stages as the layout and progress of the game has been spiced up to create more exciting action. The enemy roster remains mostly the same, minus the Castlevania bats and the filthy fillets.

Graphically, the overall style hasn’t just been improved, but revised somewhat to create a unique look and feel. Being based much more heavily on the cartoon show than any title before it, the turtles now look much more round and friendly, with big round eyes and comedic expressions. Contrasting in their art style is the enemies, looking darker and more menacing than any previous iteration – even the original comics in some regards. With evil, narrow eyes and an almost demonic appearance, these villains are probably the very best part of the artistic approach in the game, with Shredder looking lethal immediately when you see him. Krang literally fills up half the screen in some impressive sprite work for the Game Boy. In fact, the size and detail of everything from characters to backgrounds are among some of the best on Game Boy altogether. Even Master Splinter helps out and will deliver pizzas as well as fly the Turtle Blimp. Before each stage, there’s the familiar title card found in the TV show as well as an early example of digitized speech in a Game Boy game.

While the gameplay is quite familiar by this point and doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it does bring back the NES feature of having turtles being captured upon defeat and the possibility to rescue them. In the first NES game, this was achieved by actively seeking out the captive member of the team and rescuing him, while in Back from the Sewers it is done through a bonus stage after finishing a stage. The selected turtle needs to defeat REX-1, the robotic police officer. If there are no turtles in captivity, you’ll be rewarded with a pizza-dropping bonus stage. The stages are again broken into three separate sections, though there is a bit more going on in each of them, and the enemy patterns are far less predictable than the earlier games. Platforming is spiced up a bit more by introducing a ceiling crawl and also the ability to use acrobatics to thrust up railings and ledges, making it a bit more visual. Some stages also allow for the turtles to move up and down on larger playing fields.

The music lives up to the quality of the graphics, being a perfect style of pop rock that gets the lighthearted adventure a good little push. While using a lot of the same motifs, there is overall more depth to each individual track here compared to Fall of the Foot Clan, like the Underground stages having deeper and more atmospheric tunes compared to the jazzier pop rock of downtown New York. The soundtrack was handled by Tsuyoshi Sekito, who would later go on to compose Brave Fencer Musashi for Square.

Back from the Sewers is a game that looks at all the elements that worked in the previous games, meshes them together and further builds upon those ideas to craft a very enjoyable, neatly-sized game with lasting appeal and tons of authentic charm from what it is based on. Rather than trying to do a lot of new things that do not stick, it rather just focuses on the things that do work, and the result is one of the all-time best TMNT games available.

Series Navigation<< Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot ClanTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue >>

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