“Hyperstone Heist” is Better than Turtles In Time

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People are calling 2021 the “Year Of The Backlog” due to many anticipated titles being pushed back into 2022 and beyond. I’ve spent the better half of this year finishing up some titles (both retro and contemporary) that have been on my back burner for some time. After tackling the relatively obscure Battle Mania (or Trouble Shooter as it was known in the West) series for the Sega Genesis, I decided to take on the one Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game that I never got to until now. The Hyperstone Heist. I figured it was only proper with Shredder’s Revenge on the way sometime after the ball drops.

So, what’s my excuse despite being a big fan of the Turtles games and the Sega Genesis? Well, I suppose I don’t have one other than the fact that I grew up playing its Super Nintendo brother, TMNT IV: Turtles in Time. It was one of my most played titles for the console alongside Super Mario World and the Donkey Kong Country trilogy and is undoubtedly a memorable experience even today. Anyone who’s played it will tell you about how awesome it was to launch foot soldiers towards the screen. Even sweeter is that the game utilized this mechanic during the first encounter with Shredder before he sends you hurtling through time and space. Whenever I felt the need to kick shell over the years, it was always the game I decided to pull out for another playthrough.

Konami was notorious for creating completely different experiences in their portfolio of licensed games during the 16-bit generation. For example, tiny Toons on SNES is entirely different from Tiny Toons on Genesis. This practice also carried over to the Rocket Knight Adventures follow-up Sparkster. Interestingly, Turtles in Time and Hyperstone Heist are a bit of an exception to this rule. Many of the same assets can be seen in both games, and most of the compositions in the latter will sound very familiar to anyone who’s played the former.

Here’s a piece-by-piece comparison of both soundtracks. Personally, I think the grungey flair pumped out by the Genesis is a bit more suitable for the on-screen action.

Mechanically, these games also work quite similarly. However, there’s one thing Hyperstone Heist does that Turtles in Time doesn’t when it comes to its control scheme. Instead of double-tapping the d-pad to initiate a dash, Hyperstone Heist has the function mapped to a button. It may seem like a subtle change, but it makes a world of difference when it comes to the pacing of the combat. It’s far more intuitive and makes crowd control far more manageable when taking on Shred’s army alone. I’m hoping this will transfer over to Shredder’s Revenge.

Although Hyperstone Heist is a considerably shorter experience (just five stages compared to Turtles In Time‘s ten), the enemy variety starts picking up sooner. It helps with the redundant nature these sorts of games tend to have. While the encounters in the other game don’t pick up until you’ve hit the midway point, Hyperstone Heist starts throwing a healthy assortment of foot clan, mousers, and pizza monsters right from the beginning.

Hyperstone Heist features an exclusive boss battle with Tatsu, Shredder’s second-in-command from the live-action films. For some, it may not make up for the lack of some of the special effects or doubled number of stages on SNES, but I thought it was a great bit of fan service. It’s also one of few instances where the player will have to deal with fodder on top of the main boss- an otherwise common trope for the beat ’em up genre.

Although I missed chucking enemies out of bounds and the whole time-traveling aspect of the SNES game, quality will always trump quantity in my book. Hyperstone Heist didn’t wear out its welcome, and that tinge of repetition never set in in the way it does with Turtles in Time and (quite honestly) a lot of other brawlers from that era. After seeing the credits roll, I was ready to do it again as a different turtle. I didn’t stop until I consistently could 1CC (one credit clear) the whole sha-bang, either. 

Don’t get me wrong- you’re in for a good time regardless of which edition you play. That being said, I found this Genesis sibling to be the more enjoyable experience despite not having the same rose-tinted glasses for it as I do with SNES Turtles. It was an excellent warmup for Shredder’s Revenge, and I can’t wait to see what the crew at DomEmu has in store for us when it arrives in 2022.

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