Genre: Beat-‘Em-Up Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
Man, I can remember how excited I was when I first glimpsed those screen shots of Hyperstone Heist. Finally, a Ninja Turtles game on the Genesis! In my naive enthusiasm, I expected a truly original adventure that had all the goodness of the two coin-ops and the highly acclaimed SNES adaptation with some special Genesis-only bells and whistles. What I got instead was a flawed but still fun hybrid that seemed more like an afterthought than anything else.
Yes, that’s my official term to describe Hyperstone Heist: afterthought. After enjoying all the love and care Konami had put into its releases for the NES, SNES, and Game Boy; I was very disappointed to see that the same attention had not been applied to my beloved Genesis. Hyperstone Heist does a decent enough job of recreating the essence of the Ninja Turtles, but it doesn’t seem like it really does anything new. Granted, that’s perhaps a bit much to ask of a 16-bit beat-’em-up, but I just know Konami could have done so much more. Just take a look at Rocket Knight Adventures and Contra: Hard Corps and you’ll see what I mean. The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that Konami released a Turtles game on the Genesis because they felt they had to and nothing more.
Perhaps the single thing that irks me the most is the rampant recycling of the levels. As I played, I kept asking myself: haven’t I done this before? Didn’t I already fight on a city street? A pirate ship? Haven’t I already stubbed my toe while riding a jet-powered surfboard? If you’ve played Turtles in Time on the SNES, then you’ve essentially seen half of this game already. The few final levels appear to be ripped out of the original game as well. Hmm, a Japanese dojo? Been there, done that. Gee Konami, you only had to offer some new backdrops here, nothing major. What happened? We didn’t even get the neat effect of tossing enemies into the screen. With all the neat tricks we saw in Hard Corps, there’s no way anyone can tell me Konami couldn’t have pulled something special out of their hat for this release. A multi-jointed boss, perhaps? Some software scaling or rotation? Anything? Bueller? Bueller? Bah.
Here’s another complaint: what happened to the four-player support? The Genesis had more than a few multi-tap options by 1993, and this would have been one of the best reasons to own one. As usual, only two turtles could kick shell at a single time. I know this was the case on the NES and SNES, but don’t you think that alone was reason enough for a change? Wouldn’t it have been something different, to at least divert attention from the repetitive level design? I’m pretty sure that finally being able to tear through the Foot Clan with three buddies would have been a major draw. There’s no reason for Konami to have not even tried to implement multi-player support and frankly, going through a Turtles game with a single friend is like Motley Crüe without Vince Neil. It just ain’t the same folks!
Complaints aside, Hyperstone Heist was still a fun, albeit short romp. The gameplay was as solid as ever and worked quite well with the Genesis controller. You didn’t need to be a Turtle fan to dive right in, which was typical of the franchise. Some more moves would have been nice, since this was the last release in the series of this type until the current console cycle, but sadly we’re left with even fewer moves than Turtles in Time, which appeared a full year earlier. Wait, am I complaining again? Sorry about that! I will try harder from now on.
Where the gameplay was solid but limited, the presentation was consistently strong throughout the game. Konami did a decent job of making use of as much color as possible, giving Hyperstone Heist some great detail. I could have used more parallax in the backgrounds, but I tend to make that observation in most games of the era that I play. One thing I noticed is that this installment seemed shorter than the others, and a single turtle could blow through it in under a half an hour, boss battles included. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, as most games in the genre were more or less the same length.
There’s not really much else to say. This is the only Turtles title worth getting on the Genesis (skip Tournament Fighters and grab the SNES version; it’s vastly superior), and it’s fun while it lasts. There was plenty of room from improvement over previous releases, but Konami chose to play it safe. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t put as much love into Hyperstone Heist as they did most of their other Genesis contributions, but there’s not much that can be done about that. If you’re looking for the classic beat-’em-up action the series is known for, you won’t be disappointed and will get your money’s worth. Just don’t play Turtles in Time first or a good part of the game will be spoiled for you.
SCORE: 7 out of 10