Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (video game)

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The NES box art.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a platformer beat 'em up video game with Metroidvania elements developed by Konami and published by Ultra on the Nintendo Entertainment System on 1989-05-12 and later ported to eight home computer platforms. The game was released around the same time as the arcade game, and, between the two of them, they are the first games set in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe.

My step-brother introduced me to this game. I didn't get to play it much, but I watched him and my older brother take turns playing it. Being a fan of the cartoon, I remember being excited to see the game, but, even at a young age, I was confused at all the weird unrelated crap I saw in the game. Looking back now, the game has a lot of charm, but serious flaws. I watched my brother and step-brother make it to stage 4, but I never got that far myself. Later, after hacking the game to be invincible, I played it through to completion and discovered just how insane it gets near the end.

Status

I own this game on the NES. I have beaten it, but only by making use of save states at critical points. I have no desire to beat it fairly.

Review

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4 5 6 7 4 52%

Best Version: NES

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The game features a lot of characters from the cartoon, including heroes and villains alike, which is always nice for a licensed game.
  • The graphics are pretty good, I especially like the look of the turtles.
  • Jun Funahashi's music is really good.
  • There are different locations for each act, each separated with a cut scenes, and the whole game plays out like a comic book.
  • I like the mechanic of being able to switch between turtles to have more energy and then healing them as needed.
  • I like the shift between top-down street view and side-view indoors view. It makes the sewer and indoor elements seem like part of a wider world.
  • The manual is well-written.

Bad

  • The enemies respawn the moment their spawn point leaves the screen and you return to it. They also mercifully cease to exist the moment they leave the screen. While this isn't too unusual for an NES game, it makes it very difficult to defeat enemies that require multiple hits. You usually have to retreat a little in order to not take damage, but, after defeating the enemy and returning to where it spawned, it will have come back.
  • The collision detection is pretty bad. Many enemies and hazards will hit you even when they're clearly not visually hitting you.
  • The turtles should have been balanced better. They're all identical in movement speed, the only difference is in the range and swinging speed of their weapons. Donatello, actually hits for more damage, but this is probably because his weapon is so slow, it hits multiple times. Because of this, Donatello's long range, ability to hit behind himself, and extra damage makes him a powerhouse, while Raphael, with the shortest range, is completely inferior.
  • The game has pretty bad screen flicker and slow down when there are multiple enemies on the screen.
  • I like the idea of having minibosses throughout the stages, I just wish they were something other than the regular enemies you see all over the game.
  • The majority of the enemies in the game have nothing to do with the cartoon and even those few that do don't look like they're supposed to. The first time I saw a Mouser, I thought it was a giant ant. And, the Foot Clan guys look more like aliens in pajamas.
  • Although the top-down sections of the game make it more interesting, they could have been improved. It's easy to die even at full health by being run over, your regular gun is too weak, and it's hard to line up your gun with a target.
  • Despite being turtles, they're pretty difficult to control underwater!
  • It's common for the era, so it's not a big deal, but there is no point to the score. If you were so inclined, you could go in and out a door, over and over again, killing enemies until you max out the score, but would never affect the game in any way.
  • As long as you still have Kiai scrolls, Shredder is staggeringly easy to defeat and the ending is pretty unimpressive for such a long and difficult game.

Ugly

  • Throughout the game, there are several annoyingly difficult jumps that have to be timed perfectly to make. Most of them don't kill you, but they set you back to the point where you'll probably take more damage returning to them. It seems they were added just to piss the player off.
  • Moving from one map to another often puts you immediately in danger with enemies approaching you and requires fast reflexes to not take damage. In several later maps, depending on where you enter a room, you're guaranteed to take a hit.
  • In the last three levels of the game are insanely difficult. Far too hard for the average child, and too hard even for the seasoned veteran. There are all sorts of insta-kill hazards, and enemies are purposely positioned to knock you into them. Becoming good enough to beat the game requires a huge amount of level memorization.
  • Your secondary weapon is replaced automatically if you touch another one, even accidentally. This is frustrating when shruikens replace your boomerangs, but game-ending when they replace your kiai!
  • There are a couple traps in the game that can kill you entirely with no indication they're dangerous like the algae in the Hudson River and the lava and spike walls in the airport.
  • To even stand a chance late in the game against the fast-moving over-powered enemies, you're expected to farm Kiai scrolls for each turtle, which is a long and boring process.
  • The DOS port has an impossible jump in area 3 which makes the game unwinnable without cheating.

Media

Boxes

Documentation

Maps

Videos

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English (Europe) Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
English (North America) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
French Les Tortues Ninja Ninja Turtles
Japanese 激龟忍者传 Gekikame Ninja Den Turtle Ninja
Spanish Tortugas Ninja Ninja Turtles

Links

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