The painfully ‘90s cartoon tie-in Stone Protectors is now on Antstream Arcade

When people talk about ‘big hair’ in the ‘90s, they may as well be talking about the Stone Protectors – the short lived 1993 multi-media property arguably guilty of trying too hard.

Supported by a thirteen-episode cartoon series, Stone Protectors took the goofy and outlandish personalities of the Ninja Turtles, the bulging biceps and colourful attire of a typical WWF star, and the neon-hued fluffy hair from the current Troll doll fad. Throwing another factor into the mix, our heroes – Cornelius, Chester, Clifford, Angus, and Maxwell – were also former rockstars, brandishing their guitars and keyboards alongside ninja weapons.

The toy line lasted for two waves and is known for being beyond garish; bright red packaging housing toys concocted from a mixture of fluorescent plastic and synthetic hair. I would also say that the head sculpts are on the ugly side, with crooked teeth reminiscent of TMNT bootlegs.

Stone Protectors (SNES)

The Stone Protectors gained enough traction for Kemco to commission video game tie-ins for the SNES and Mega Drive, although in the end, only the SNES version was released. It seems a lack of interest in the franchise was the reason behind the MD version’s cancellation, although it has since been released online. The SNES iteration, now under the wing of Piko Interactive, can now be played on the Anstream Arcade service, launching earlier this month.

Developed by then studio-for-hire Eurocom, it’s a scrolling brawler with ten stages, ranging from underground lava pits to sandy tropical beaches. Essentially, it plays like a broken version of Streets of Rage 2 – the genre standard of the time – but closely resembles the SNES’ Battletoads in Battlemaniacs in terms of presentation. All five characters are playable, with one using skates to get around, and each has a few different moves including a spinning pile driver. Weapons feature too, including a flamethrower, useable for as long as you’re able to keep hold of them. 

Visually, it’s a mixed bag. It begins with a drab ice world, which doesn’t make the best first impression – surely the beach location would have made for a more enticing opening? The characters are well drawn but the animation is quite stilted, which impacts the fluidness of the combat. I wonder if the team struggled to fit all five playable characters on a 16-meg cart, considering Capcom’s Final Fight conversion had to drop Guy. Character portraits look great, and are well animated, but they’re reused in every cut-scene with expressions remaining unchanged, which is jarring in some instances.

Cornelius, Chester, Clifford, Angus, and Maxwell

The very definition of generic, Stone Protectors is a generous 6/10 game at best, and a middling 5/10 at worst – the SNES had many scrolling brawlers that were less enjoyable than this. If you’re looking to kill an hour or two, and have a hankering for something quintessentially ‘90s, this will suffice and may raise a grin…if only because of the thick layer of cheese. American processed, of course.

Weirdly, Stone Protectors isn’t the oddest tie-in to come out of the ‘90s super mutant trend. Konami also took a chance on the Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa, based on a 1992 Hasbro toy line. It seems to have been a tad more successful than Stone Protectors, lasting two seasons, but is far more obscure nowadays. Maybe one day it’ll also appear on pastures new.