When you're recalling past events and they seem to mix together, you cannot remember what happened and in what order, this is what some people call "forgetfulness". I call it, "pulling a Hyperstone Heist". This game is simply a mixture of elements from Turtles In Time, the 1989 arcade game, the animated show, comics, and films. It has no coherent plot, reason, or logic. I like to have some sense or reason to where I am going and what I am doing, but The Hyperstone Heist gives me nothing.
It was a rush job to get more money out of Genesis owners because the Nintendo platforms were getting all the great Turtles games (ignoring, well, that first one for NES). So everything was haphazardly thrown into a game blender and what came out the other side, well, it isn't so pretty. But it is all five of your five-a-day, so drink up!
The game understandably starts in New York City, which makes sense, after all, this is a 'Toitles game and they live in the Big Apple. However, the very first boss encounter in the game is Leatherhead. You know, the crocodile villain of the Frogs, who lives in the Bayou! ...or is he? You see, having been raised on the '80s cartoon, I assumed the game was failing to follow the show canon, but it is actually sticking true to the comics! Yes, because in the original Mirage Comics, Leatherhead was simply a man who attempted to rob a pet store, got mutated into a crocodile, and made his way into the sewers. I thought the game was failing to be truthful, but no, it was merely being truthful to canon I wasn't familiar with.
The great and most enjoyable thing is that he still has his attire from the show as opposed to the comics, so that hilarious hat is back. I don't know why he is working for The Shredder (a kitchen utensil) in this game, but, uh, whatever. When a boss is defeated, they explode. They EXPLODE. Into a ball of flame and disappear. So what, were they robots? This happens with every boss. Even Shredder (a kitchen utensil). Well damn, the 'Toitles won't have to worry about him anymore, jeez.
Stage 2 is a haunted Ghost Ship! Why? What's the context? Is this merely just a re-skinned version of the pirate ship from Turtles in Time? Who asked you? I asked you? When did I ask you? They made Rocksteady the boss of this level, just Rocksteady. In fact, Bebop doesn't even appear in this game. You can't have Rocksteady without Bebop! I imagine this was a character clearance issue; maybe Konami could only afford one.
Now, Rocksteady and Bebop were created for the 1987 cartoon series specifically. Leatherhead lives in the sewers (like in the comics), but we follow the '80s show canon by having Rocksteady. Couldn't they have used Tokka and Rahzar? I mean, they were the original enemies on the pirate ship level in Turtles in Time, so it would have made sense. Anyway...
Stage 3 is Shredder's Hideout, which I presume is in Japan. So we went from New York City, to pirate ship, to Japan. Sounds like a pretty good package deal for an oceanic cruise; where do I sign? In this stage, we fight Tatsu. You know, Tatsu! From the live-action movies! Wait a GOD-DARNED SECOND here. Yes, Tatsu appeared in the comics, but... not in this particular design. So we have a mixture of comics canon, cartoon canon, and film canon! Load me up into a cannon and shoot me far, far away.
Heroes in a half-shell? More like, heroes in a half-assed game.
Remember I said all bosses explode? Even poor Tatsu is blown to bits.
Stage 4 is simply called "The Gauntlet". It takes place in some unknown cave and consists of two halves. The first half is a seemingly endless barrage of Pizza Monsters, you know, from the damn cartoon, and the second half is all three bosses you recently faced... just differently coloured. Not only is this extremely lazy in both design and execution, it is so boring that it beggars belief. Someone actually programmed this level into the game thinking, "I'm really proud of what I have made. I take pride in delivering the best quality product." Who's gonna tell him? Somebody's gotta tell him.
The ending battle of The Gauntlet is our good friend Baxter Stockman, in his human form, flying his robot that shoots out Mousers. So if we were trying to place this into the show canon, we'd be trying to place it before Baxter's mutation into a fly, especially with the Mouser robots, placing this in the first four or five episodes of the show. Well, congratulations.
HE EXPLODES TOO.
After that, it's off to the Technodrome for the fifth and final stage. Whoa, why is this game so short? I knew licensed games could be a fairly minimal experience, but damn. The home console Turtles games were always made longer. Turtles in Time and the '89 arcade game were heavily expanded for console, each at least three times the length (probably about five times in the case of the NES TMNT II). This is over in, pah, forty minutes? If that? How disappointing.
Blah blah Technodrome. Blah blah Krang. Blah blah Shredder (a kitchen utensil). Blah Blah victorious 'Toitles.
If the soundtrack weren't so lush, the graphics weren't so great, and the gameplay weren't so bloody smooth, I wouldn't even rate this highly at all. But because everything else has been lifted with such accuracy and at the greatest quality the Genesis could muster, this whole package is amazing as a whole, even if it is short, canonically confused, and wets itself.
All four of the green-skinned reptile brothers are playable, the game is two-player supported, you can enable the comic colour scheme if you prefer, the game is only slightly challenging, and it's really kind of... quaint. It pales in comparison to the main series games, but for a spin-off, it gets the job done. I can easily recommend this to TMNT fans, and beat-'em-up aficionados, if you're looking for something that takes as much effort to beat as it seems went into it in the first place.