Pizza time! Following the success of the rad green dudes from the sewers in the comic books, on their hit Saturday morning cartoon series, and on their hip (and occasionally bad) entries for the NES, it was time to inevitably hit the portable market. No, please no — let's not even think about those pitiful Tiger Electronics games. I'm talking about the Game Boy, that monochroma wonder that swept the nation like a video game-themed broom. One of the earlier titles for the system was none other than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan, and y'know what? It's not bad at all.
In Fall of the Foot Clan, you take the role of all four turtles. Your goal is to rescue the reporter April O'Neil, who has been kidnapped by the Foot Clan on behalf of Shredder and that gooey brain Krang. ...That's it. There's no more plot than this. Seriously, I have nothing more to say. But I need to fill this space somehow, so... here's a pack of animated ninja turtle GIFs.
Whenever you start a new stage, you can select between any of the four Turtles. Though they each bear different weapons — Leonardo's got his katana blades, while Donatello rocks a bo, for example — they basically have no notable advantages or disadvantages over their slimy brethren. Donatello's bo, which you would think would have more range being, you know, a long stick and all, actually stretches as far as Michelangelo's nunchuks or Raphael's lame sais. It's really a matter of personal preference as to whom you choose. With a health bar of eight points each, the Turtles can take quite a lot of punishment (though pizza slices dropped or found help rejuvenate a damaged reptile), though if one dies (sorry, is "captured" by the Foot Clan), they're out of play for the remainder of the game until you get that unexciting Game Over screen. It's not really a big deal, though, as you can actually select which stage you start on before you play. Yes, you can start on Stage 5, the final area, if you so desire. The only downside here is that you won't get the full-fledged ending unless you play from beginning to end. But it's still a short ending (they just cut out some text and a Technodrome receding into the ground), so you're not missing much.
Fall of the Foot Clan is as basic of a platformer as could possibly be. One button uses the weapon, the other jumps — solid controls all around. You can duck, too, and your weapon changes to a shuriken when doing so. Your goal in each area is to go from left to right, fending off hordes of Foot Clansmen (wait, did I mean Foot Soldiers?) and those annoying Roadkill Rodney robots with the electrified whip that pop up in some games, among other enemies. But no enemies are particularly pesky; most can be easily defeated with a single tap of your weapon or a kick from mid-air. Even the bosses are a breeze, as long as you actually make an effort to step out of their way once in a while. The usual suspects are present: Bebop and Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, Shredder, Krang... Oh look, I just listed every boss in the game. The biggest problem won't even be the bosses or the enemies individually; it's how frequently they appear that's the big issue. Luckily for all of us, the game is slow enough that there's certainly enough reaction time to deal with everyone, making a potentially difficult game very easy. That's right: this game's very easy. I said that. It's perhaps the easiest Turtles game out there. It's among the easiest of Konami games. It's even on par with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: World Tour, an old DOS game where all you have to do is colour! (Watch out for that Evil Eraser — he's a doozy.)
Turtles in a half-shell... turtle power! ...Ever wonder what happened to the other half of the shell?
For an early title on a limited portable system, Fall of the Foot Clan has some pretty good graphics. All of the sprites are very large and detailed (although the Turtles tend to all look alike, but that could be because I'm racist against that reptilian species), and even the environments, simple though they are, have a rustic charm. The bosses are pretty huge; they're always larger than the Turtles, that's for sure. The music is peppy as well. Hearing the actual Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme multiple times throughout the game injected me with instant nostalgia, like your first cupcake, your first kiss, or that first scalp massage you never could forget. (When any of those happen, I'll let you know.) The other tunes, while not on par with the theme song (and how could they?), suit their locations well. Fun fact: one of the composers was Michiru Yamane, who would go on to score Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and a variety of other Konami classics. Yes, we'll pretend that the arcade rendition of Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa counts as a classic.
This game can easily be conquered in under half an hour, but for that half hour, you'll be kept on your toes by constant enemy attacks, obstacle avoidance, and good old vintage fun. I do wish there was a bit more of a challenge to it, but for younger players, this one might be ideal. Now go out there and save April! ...or not, doesn't matter. You know she'll just end up back at the Technodrome in a sequel, just guarded by a more buff version of Shredder with lasers duct taped to his shoulders.