Top 100 Snes Review: #25 – Teenage Mutant ninja Turtles, Turtles in Time (1991)

A beat-em-up style adventure that spans 250,000,000 years but only takes an hour  to complete — I guess time is relative!

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #25/100
My Rating: cropped-star.jpgcropped-star.jpgcropped-star.jpgcropped-star.jpg

This is what games are supposed to be about.

I romped through NYC at 3am with someone who had never played video games in her life. She giggled as I was electrocuted. She bubbled over when a wrecking ball flattened me. She rejoiced when we defeated the boss at the end of the level.

Games have just gotten too damn complicated. There is something fully hedonistic about classic beat-em ups, and TMNT 4: Turtles in Time does it better at it than anyone else. Not only is it fun, but it’s where history, evolution, and art intersect.

Leonardo TMNT IV.jpg
Leonardo’s Mona Lisa – an optical illusion of a smile, much like presented here.


Shredder steals the Liberty Statue, and this just doesn’t sit well with certain mutated animals. With a certain East Coast bias, the Turtles go to recover what they believe to be a vital piece of Americana. After arriving at Shredder’s hideout, the Turtles are thrown back in history via a time warp. After a brief stop in the future (of which their prediction for 2020 was a bit…off), they return to the present to confront Shedder and successfully restore the Liberty Statue to welcome all future immigrants entering the USA.

TMNT IV 2020
Konami thought 2020 would involve hoverboards and futuristic cities. Instead, we have Uber and COVID.


This is one of those games where having another person is the only appropriate way to play. A case study on teamwork, it proves frantic and non-directed tasks can lead to positive outcomes — why pay organizational behavior consultants when team bonding can be achieved in an afternoon at the arcade? Each person you play with provides another opportunity to break and form unspoken concepts to defeat the bad guys, revealing new solutions to old problems.

TMNT IV Michelangelo
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel – a study in getting others to do your work for you.

Outside of the psychology of teamwork, the game provides plenty of variety in attack patterns. Probably one of the coolest moves is being able to throw an enemy at the screen — meaning you actually throw the enemy towards you, the player, as a final way to kill them. There is an entire boss dedicated to showing off this high graphical achievement, and there is something instantly gratifying about pulling off that move.

TMNT IV The Future.png
An action still shot with well balanced features.

As an aside, what was so special about the Statue of Liberty and video game villains? If it wasn’t Shredder stealing the damn thing, Carmen San Deigo was hiding it in the Leaning Tower of Pisa which she then hid in Mount Rushmore but not before swiping the Eiffel Tower and putting it out of reach on the moon.

Statue of Liberty TMNT IV
Shredder built a time machine to steal the Statue of Liberty? Makes sense.

The time travel piece is a nice touch. Not only do you get a sense of how life was in the early 90s, you get to travel to prehistory, the age of sea warfare, and the rise of train travel to the west. Sure, Konami’s vision of 2020 might be disappointing, but when you realize the internet used to come in cereal boxes, you understand why they were so optimistic.


TMNT 4 is a return to the simple and cooky. Enjoy controlling four mutated turtles paying homage to renaissance artists as they visit peak moments in history.

Other People’s Takes:

  • So Many Games: “It is a bit short and it does not have 4 player co-op like the arcade version but other than that it’s SNES gold.”
  • The Nostalgia Spot: “Because the SNES port is so good, Turtles in Time is a far easier game to return to than its predecessor in 2020. You could go out and find an old arcade cabinet, or buy the Arcade1Up one, but it’s a far better deal to just grab the SNES version.”
  • Fletch Talks: “It might appear disconcerting for a game based on a kids cartoon to have so much relentless savagery.”


  1. I got this game for my birthday one year! Unfortunately, I was too young to grasp some of the references in it.

    Later on, my Mom traded it in for an NES title called The Adventures of Lolo, but it was just as well as we’d beaten it on the Hard Mode and gotten the best ending.


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