TMNT Hyperstone (1)

Genre: Beat ’em Up
Year: 1992
Developed by: Konami
Published by: Konami
Platforms: Sega Genesis
#441
Feeling Like: Nintendo vs. Sega, Round #441

The 1990s had the biggest rivalries since World War 2. You had Tupac vs. Biggie, WWF vs. WCW and the Red Wings vs. Avalanche, just to name a few. These escalated instances of hatred weren’t bred by “Twitter beef” or some manufactured Youtube drama. You had the two best rappers of all time trying (succeeding?) to literally kill each other. Wrestling was never hotter when week to week ratings wars meant shocking revelations, performers jumping rosters on live TV and revolutionary personalities unmatched by anything since. You had Detroit and Colorado deciding the Stanley Cup winner before the Stanley Cup final, with dirty hits, insane bouts and pure animosity straight out of Slap Shot.

The amount of talent and innovation involved among all this fracas was ridiculous. These weren’t anything but the best of the absolute best in their space, and video games were no different: Nintendo vs. Sega.

It’s almost comically one sided looking back on it. Nintendo would emerge the clear winner, and is still the premier game developer (see: Breath of the Wild) and Sega is struggling to stay relevant. But at the time, it was do or die. Virtually everybody chose sides and the marketing did everything they could to persuade youth everywhere that their console was the only one worth having. Nintendo was slow, Sega was fast. Nintendo had Mario, Sega had Sonic. Nintendo had the RPGs, Sega had the sports. It was neck and neck, with each company looking for any edge in the fight.

TMNT Hyperstone (2)
You’d think a sewer dwelling ninja would both a) Know a sewer isn’t a cave and b) not be scared of one

So you sometimes had games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Hyperstone Heist / Turtles in Time, where the point wasn’t so much which game was better, but which game did what better.

Coming out a few months after the SNES classic Turtles in TimeHyperstone Heist had a lot to live up to. Wisely, it didn’t stray too far from a good formula. It uses the same engine, but is noticeably quicker in nearly every regard, and I do mean every. Movement is faster, the idle animations begin IMMEDIATELY and the audio tracks, particularly the boss fight song, go from sounding like an annoyed frog on the SNES to a frenetic carousel beat on the Genesis.

The challenge was also ramped up, but I found that in no small part to the fact that the Genesis controller’s button layout is terrible and just not as comfy as the SNES. Small hands, you know. Longer, but fewer stages, meant less frequent breaks and less variety in the levels. A pity, since some of the other changes really benefit Hyperstone Heist. The intro makes the Turtles look way more like their original comic versions; pissed off and kind of badass looking. Tatsu, noticeably absent from Turtles in Time, is back here with his own boss fight, against a backdrop of a wicked samurai looking statue in the background. Hitting the ‘C’ button for dash is obviously superior to double tapping a direction on the SNES controller, but hey, I guess they had to make do with only having 12 buttons compared to the Genesis’ 4.

But, like how Nintendo/Sega theater eventually turned out, this fight has a clear winner. Turtles in Time is the better game, but Hyperstone Heist is another reminder that Sega wouldn’t leave Nintendo alone to gain any advantage without a fight. You could point to the really big guns as products of this promotional war, but there are plenty of other grunts in the trenches that tried to siphon money from both sides of rabid fan bases. Hyperstone Heist, reporting for duty.

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