Today's article stars grotesque mutants who live in the New York sewers and survive on a delicate balance of pizza, gnarly surfer lingo and ninjitsu. When you see it written out like that, it's not surprising that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became as popular as they did (and indeed still are). I'm sure you're all familiar with Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo already, but which of their many videogame incarnations did I choose to look at today? Their famous NES adventure? One-on-one fighting game Turtles: Tournament Fighters? Perhaps one of their much-loved side-scrolling beat-em-ups? No, no and no. Instead, here's the Amiga version of Merit Software and Brian Rice's 1990 floodfill-in-a-half-shell-em-up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: World Tour, AKA VGJunk Decided He Needed a Break From Proper Games.
TMNT: World Tour is part of a series of home computer graphics applications called Electric Crayon, which tells you all you need to know about how this works - it's a digital colouring book. Pictures of the Turtles enjoying their worldwide vacation appear on screen, and you can colour them in by picking a colour and clicking on the part of the drawing you want to appear in that colour. That's it. It's not really possible to get away with calling this a game, and as such I suppose it falls outside the usual VGJunk remit, but like I said, I needed a break.
Here's the first scene, showing the Turtles preparing to embark on their grand adventure and having forgotten that they generally try to keep themselves of of the sight of regular people. They're not just on vacation from fighting crime, they're on vacation from giving a fuck, as shown later by their decision to travel the globe in a giant turtle-themed blimp with TURTLES written on the side.
There you go, I did some colouring. I clicked on the red bit of the palette at the bottom of the screen, then I clicked on the background. The background is now red. The system works!
You can also "mix" any two colours, although what actually happens is that it dithers two colours together in a checkerboard pattern. As you can see, mixing blue and red and applying it to the background has created a fuzzy purple effect. You can even mix whatever colour you like by going into the "Picture" menu and fiddling with the RGB sliders, but that seemed like far too much effort to be expending on something as basic as TMNT: World Tour.
Here's the picture coloured in "correctly," and if I was to attach any kind of gameplay element to this it'd be that you can make a game of deciding which Turtle is which. In this picture they're all pulling the same gormless, tongue-lolling face, so it doesn't really matter, but later on you get more chance to let their personalities shine through.
So, the Turtles have packed their bags and they're ready to embark on their world tour, but where will they go first?
I can't help but think that if TMNT: World Tour had been made more recently, there'd be fewer pictures of the Turtles flying aircraft toward New York landmarks.
Tasteless jokes aside, what's going on with the Turtle face on the outside of the blimp? Is that the cockpit, and we can see one of the Turtles performing his piloting duties with a dopey grin on his face, or it is a picture they've slapped on the outside just in case the citizens of New York were confused by the big TURTLES marquee and the overall shell-based theme of the blimp?
Zut alors, it's the Eiffel Tower! Will I take this slim coincidence as an excuse to post a link to a Pixies song? You bet I will. As you can see, I've coloured both Turtles' bandannas red as a homage to the original comics where they all had red bandannas, and definitely not because I've stopped paying attention to what I was doing already.
The one other thing you can do in TMNT: World Tour is to bring up a screen that provides you with some facts about whatever landmark the Turtles are currently causing irreparable damage to by swinging all over it. I honestly didn't know that the Eiffel Tower was used to broadcast TV signals, so at least I have learned something from this game. You can ignore that bit about it being one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World" though, because there is no such list. Or rather, there are tons of "modern wonders" lists, rendering the whole enterprise pointless.
I'm a little confused as to why the button to leave this screen says "Yes" instead of "OK" or "Exit" or something. Do you really need my validation that much? They're your facts, try to have a little confidence in them and don't rely on my approval to make you feel loved.
Well, would you look at that. It turns out that if you make the Turtles flesh-coloured they look really creepy. Like giant, shell-clad babies. They're in the Alps, by the way. High up in the Alps, enjoying a spot of naked skiing. The executioner's hoods they're wearing definitely add to the carefree atmosphere of this image, don't you think?
The Heroes in a Half Shell visit the Kremlin. The Berlin Wall falls, and over its rubble climbs a group of musclebound mutants trained in the deadly martial arts of the far east. The Iron Curtain is hastily reinstated.
The Turtles cartoon started in the Eighties, right? But as far as I remember they never fought a Russian villain. Said villain would have been a mutant bear, of course. I was so amazed that this Communist mutant bear villain ever happened that I looked it up on Google, only to discover this - "In Russian comic books Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are lead by the giant Russian bear with a balalaika-gun." I have no idea how to respond to that, so I'm just going to move on.
Oh, and if you're wondering why I coloured Raph's teeth that way, just remember that he lives in a sewer and eats nothing but pizza. What colour do you think his teeth are?
Also astounding: the fact that the Turtles visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the "Leaning Tower of PIZZA!!" joke is kept as subtle as it is, if Leo's slice is even meant as a joke. Of course, none of this explains why everything in this scene appears to be floating in the sky. Maybe spontaneous levitation is one of the lesser-discussed parts of T-U-R-T-L-E Power.
Staying in the Mediterranean, the Turtles visit Greece and head straight for the Acropolis. Acropolis means "High Place". That's... a touch underwhelming.
The Acropolis is also the Endless Flesh, a labyrinthine prison of the soul where the Eyeless Ones witness nothing but know all, understand all, their unflinching vigil kept for the promise of salvation when the time comes for the Ancient Ones to rend the very Earth asunder. All in all, I'd give it an eight out of ten, although the gift shop was extremely overpriced.
Don't give me that look, Leonardo. You're the one who wanted to come to the Sahara Desert despite knowing full well that a large part of your genetic code is that of an aquatic reptile.
Also, you have no idea how long I looked at this picture while trying to come up with a Lawrence of Arabia / TMNT pun. The best I could manage was Lawrence of Chelonia.
As the point of this article was to give myself a break from writing about games that have actual content, I'm going to treat myself to making a really lazy drugs / psychedelia joke. Ready? Ahem. "Don't drop acid while visiting the Taj Mahal. Trippy, man!" There you go, it's out of my system now.
Speaking of getting things out of your system, do you remember the cartoon Once Upon a Time... Life, an educational series that explained how the body worked? I do. I remember thinking it was a bit unsettling that the white blood cells, who were portrayed as fairly normal-looking humanoid policemen, got rid of germs by eating them instead of bonking them with their batons and taking them to germ jail. Therefore, I have decided to recreate Once Upon a Time... Life, but with the Turtles cast as the white blood cells. No more eating germs, they can defeat them the old-fashioned way: by battering them into submission with two sticks tied together with a chain.
This is Mount Fuji. The description states that is considered sacred by some people, and as we can see the Turtles are treating it with the kind of respect and appreciation that something so culturally valuable deserves. Especially Michelangelo at the back there, he's showing his respect and appreciation by grinding his entire body against the mountain. When you get back, Mikey, I would avoid telling Master Splinter that you've rubbed your junk against one of his home country's most venerated landmarks.
In the Australian Outback, Leonardo stares at a kangaroo with a strange look in his eyes and his three-fingered hands raised in a grabbing position. Judging by the way his tongue's hanging out, I'd say he either wants to eat that kangaroo or make love to it.
Lest you think I'm reading too much sexual intent into Leonardo's gaze, here's what happens when the turtles arrive on the Galapagos Islands.
Yikes. I could just about accept that Leo is innocently riding around on the back of that giant tortoise if it wasn't for his expression. There's no innocence in that face. I can't say I blame him, mind you: when then only other members of your species are your three brothers, a giant turtle is probably the best you're going to get. It's just... did you have to climb aboard right in front of Raphael?
Their baser urges sated, the Turtles board the spectral ship that will carry them back to the good ol' USA, where they can once again return to their lives of being shunned by the ordinary run of man, forced to live beneath the city streets. They must not serve pizza on the Galapagos, I can't imagine why else they would have left.
Pictured above: the cover art for my alternate universe fanfiction where mankind evolved from turtles and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Mammals are trained by Splinter - in this universe, a hobo who lives in a storm drain - to fight the evil ninjas of the Shell Clan.
To TMNT: World Tour's credit, I learned something about Mount Rushmore, and that is that the monument was designed by a man named Gutzon Borglum. Nice to hear that orcs can get this kind of large-scale sculptural work.
The Turtles also visit Canada and pretend to be Mounties. It is a testament to the character and training of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that the Mountie in the background is displaying no reaction to the bizarre events unfolding before him.
The Turtles' final stop is the White House. Moments after this picture was taken, Michelangelo was felled by a hail of Secret Service gunfire, which is what happens when you climb onto the roof of the White House. I decided to recolour the White House pink in order to celebrate I Can Be USA President Barbie's inevitable election victory and subsequent inauguration. Barbie's first executive order is to authorise drone surveillance of the general populace in order to determine those not committed to perkiness and fashionability. I bet you wish you'd voted for the Bratz party now.
Finally, while it may be considered treasonous to paint the White House pink, I should point out that it is literally impossible to colour the Stars and Stripes correctly. Truly, a disgraceful slur against the pixellated flag of this proud nation. I tried to colour it as best I could, but it came out looking a bit... fascist-y. Some free advice to any vexillologists out there - don't make your flags red and black unless they're intended to promote an under-18s Emo night at a local rock club.
The Turtles return home, weary but yet enriched by all they have seen and happy to have finally gotten their collective end away. The plane tickets for next year's trip to the Galapagos have already been booked, but for now they'll relax with their memories and whatever duty-free they managed to bring back with them. I coloured the picture brown in an attempt to make it look like a sepia photograph, but all it's done is make me think of the Cheers intro.
What can I really say about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: World Tour? It's a colouring book with some info from a children's encyclopedia taped to it. It's got the Turtles in it. It does what it does well enough, and I know that if I'd had this as a kid I've have used it a bunch. I can at least say that I feel oddly relaxed after going through it, and these days I will take "relaxing" any day of the week.