When you fire the game up there are two choices available from the main menu. The first is simply called "Game" and is what you choose when you are ready to get in to the action. Upon selecting it you will be taken to a screen that you'll see before the start of each game act. Across the top of this screen are icons representing the four different Turtles (and the current status of their energy bar). If at any point during the game one of your Turtles is captured (this happens when you lose all your energy), the Turtle in question will have jail cell bars around their icon, disallowing you to select them. At the bottom of this screen is a map broken up in to six sections, each section representing one of the game's acts. As you progress through the game a Turtle icon will advance along this map in accordance with your progression through the game. Anyways, after selecting which Turtle you want to use you will then be taken to the game action. The following six paragraphs are a breakdown of the game's various acts:
Naturally the game begins at "Act 1". You will start off having to navigate the sewers, fighting off many Foot Soldiers along the way. Eventually you pop up in to the street and make your way through the city, fighting off more Foot Soldiers, some of which fire manhole covers at you! Eventually you'll head back underground and find a few suspicious looking Foot hanging about. They set off a bomb and blow a hole in the floor of the sewers, which you then have to jump/grapple across. After dispatching more Foot on the other side you head back up in to the streets. This is when Rocksteady makes his presence known, take him down easily in this first boss fight of the game.
"Act 2" begins with your character riding a skateboard at top speed down the highway! A number of Foot Soldiers then attack. Some of them aren't armed but others come equipped with boomerangs. Those weird flying aliens from the first game also attack, as well as some Foot Soldiers piloting personal helicopters and firing machine guns. Eventually a truck will pull up and start dropping rolling oil drums in your path, just jump them all without much problem. When the truck leaves a flurry of Foot Soldiers enter the scene, shooting lasers and rockets. After dispatching them you'll jump off your skateboard and approach the second boss of the game . . . Bebop, who's a fair shade tougher than Rocksteady.
In "Act 3" play begins on a bridge. Making your way across said bridge you'll take out many Foot Soldiers before coming to a construction site. Avoiding steel buckets falling from above as well as battling many Mousers, you soon stumble across a door . . . enter it. Inside is an elevator, which you take up to the top floor of the construction site, having to battle many Foot Soldiers along the way. Once out of the elevator make your way across the top of the building, battling many Foot and Mousers. Eventually you will reach an open area where Krang takes the opportunity to attack, piloting a small robotic walker device. Avoid his melee attacks, blaster, and bomb drops, and you'll take the little nutsack down.
"Act 4" kicks off with you entering a tunnel left by one of Shredder and Krang's drilling machines at the construction site. Follow it underground, avoiding large rolling boulders, eventually you'll climb up and down a couple of steep slopes. You then have to navigate a series of small chasms, which feature these devices that shoot gouts of flame up in to the air. Complicating the jumps necessary to complete this sequence are some Foot Soldiers, the ones who fire rockets. Eventually you'll jump through a hole and in to a new tunnel, soon coming across a couple of sewer sections. In the second one a large, weird alien pops out of the water, you need to defeat him before moving on. Afterwards you'll battle a number of Mousers before popping up in to the streets . . . when the Shredder attacks! When you defeat the lummox Krang will show up and rescue him . . .
Using the Turtle Blimp to kick off "Act 5", master Splinter drops you off at the start of a series of platforms hovering above the city. As you jump your way across said platforms you'll have to dispatch many Foot Soldiers and flying aliens, and avoid falling bombs, before making it to the rooftop of a nearby building. Once on the roof The Fly (aka Baxter Stockman) takes the opportunity to engage, but just lick him down easily before entering a nearby doorway. Inside the building you'll face some Foot Soldiers who fire shurikens. Once they are defeated enter the next door and the room beyond will contain a nice, pizza-ey surprise! But upon entering the next door the act's boss shows up, a Rock Soldier! The beast will put up a good fight, but once you figure out the attack pattern he's simple. After defeating this boss it will show your character rescuing April O'Neil from captivity.
The final act of the game, "Act 6", starts you off piloting a modified skateboard, surfing the shallow waters of the sewers. You have to jump over fields of floating mines, while at the same time avoiding the rockets that are being launched in your direction! At the end of the sewer you abandon your board and jump through a hole in the wall, entering an underground tunnel. Once inside the tunnel you have to avoid Foot Soldiers as well as laser beams that cannonade around the environment. You'll then face some Mousers before discovering the Technodrome, jumping up to enter it. Right off the bat you have to face General Traag, the Rock Soldier commander, as a sort of half way boss. It's a tough fight aboard a moving conveyor belt, but persevere and you can eke out the win. Entering the door Traag came out of you then move down the corridor beyond it, facing Foot Soldiers, laser turrets, those robots with the electric whips, and shooting gouts of flame, before entering another door. This ends up being an elevator, riding it upwards you need to dispatch many Foot before exiting in to a new corridor. Soon afterwards Krang shows up and blasts you, whereupon your character falls down a number of levels within the Technodrome. Recovering and soldiering on you have to destroy a number of Mousers before entering another elevator, where you face the Shredder for a second time! After defeating him, navigate the next corridor you come to, contending with many Foot Soldiers and flying aliens along the way, before coming to an area where machine guns will repeatedly fire at you. Jumping these blasts you'll then enter a nearby doorway, in to Krang's control room. The wee scrotum attacks, this time inside his big body, just jump kick the crap out of him and you'll send him hurtling through a portal in to Dimension X . . . and the day is saved, game over!
At this point it is important to mention that between acts you get to play either a Bonus Game or a Rescue Game. During a Bonus Game your character is situated in one of a few different level configurations, which all take place in the sewers. Pizzas will randomly start appearing on the screen, you have to jump and slide around the environment to collect as many of them as you can, helping to refill your depleted energy gauge. As for the Rescue Game, if you have lost a Turtle to capture during gameplay, this is your chance to get him back. In a Rescue Game you have to fight a Rock Soldier, defeating him within the given time limit, in order to free your comrade.
Getting back to the main menu the second and final option is called "Options". From here you can adjust a small number of game settings, such as adjusting the game's difficulty level (easy, normal or hard) and switching the attack/jump actions between the A and B buttons, whichever way you prefer. On this screen you can also do a background music test from all of the various musical pieces you'll hear throughout the game.
Once you get in to the game there isn't much you need to look out for at all. Each of your Turtles comes packing his own unique weapon as usual, so there are no weapons pickups to be had. The only thing you need be concerned about locating are health pickups, which come in the form of pizza. A slice of pizza will replenish 3 sections of your energy bar, whereas a full pizza will replenish 6 sections of your energy bar.
Similarly the game screen is also very simple. In the bottom left corner you'll find your energy bar, which is composed of 12 darkened rectangular sections. Taking hits depletes these sections, lose them all and your Turtle is captured, you'll then have to pick a new Turtle and restart from the last checkpoint. And in the bottom right corner of the game screen is your current score.
The controls in this game are pretty basic as well. Press left and right on the directional pad to move your character across the screen. Pressing up on the directional pad (after pressing the jump button) will help you climb atop certain objects in the game that you can jump up and latch on to. Pressing down on the other hand will help you climb down these same types of objects (again in conjunction with the jump button). Also, pressing down will make you duck when on solid ground. The default controls see the A button used to make your character jump, while the B button is used to make your character attack using his unique weapon. When you press the jump button you can then press the attack button, which makes your character perform a jump kick. Also, you can press the A and B buttons at the same time to make your Turtle do a slide across the ground. Finally, the Start button is used to pause the action at any time.
The presentation behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers is pretty solid. The graphics are more fleshed out in this title than they were in Fall of the Foot Clan, with respect both to the various characters and their environments. They are also pretty crisp and well-polished, overall the game looks really good. The soundtrack is very similar to the first game, just the usual TMNT themed bloops and bleeps that were common from Nintendo games of that era. As for the controls, they handle pretty well, not really any issues to report there.
The pros and cons are mixed with this game and directly correlate with one another . . . it's quite bizarre!! First, I really like the look and feel of this game, the amped up graphics are a definite upgrade over Fall of the Foot Clan. However, at the same time, as the graphics got better the characters got bigger, meaning it seemed as though there wasn't enough room on the screen to maneuver at points when the action got a little too intense (and the game seemed to bog down at times during these sequences). The smaller, simpler scale of Fall of the Foot Clan, although it doesn't look as detailed as this game, was a lot of times preferable simply for it's functionality. The other issue is the theme of the game. Like I said earlier, this game is basically just a retread of Fall of the Foot Clan, just with a different look. On one hand this is a bad thing as they didn't bother to come up with a different story, surely something new could have been added? But on the other hand, this game features my favourite aspect of the TMNT franchise, the four brothers taking on the evil duo of Shredder and Krang, along with their original cronies. I guess if they did try to change things up they could have messed up the formula. So basically this game is what it is, and for the most part I really enjoyed it, overall the pros weigh in more than the cons do.
I do have a couple tips and tricks I can offer gamers who want to give this title a try. First of all, figure out which Turtle is best suited for each game act. Each Turtle has different capabilities depending on the speed/reach of their weapon, so matching these capabilities up with the proper enemies and sequences goes a long way towards your continued survival. Also, every boss has a particular sequence they repeat, as is common with games of this vintage. A lot of the game bosses are easy, but there are a few who can be quite tricky. Pay attention to their tendencies and you'll crack the code to beating them.
What this title may be lacking in originality it makes up for with solid gameplay and beefed up graphics. It's not a ground-breaking release but it's a whole lot of fun and a great representation of one of the best franchises ever created . . . a must for any true fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.