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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Tournament Fighters (NES)

This was a bit of an odd duck.  I can see what Konami were going for and as a last hurrah for the NES it works.  But the NES simply lacks the horsepower necessary to do a fighting game justice, leaving this 8-bit version in a weird place.  It’s decent for what it is but anyone who was serious about fighting games had long since moved on to the more advanced platforms.  I was still stuck with an NES at the time and even I wanted nothing to do with this version of the game.  Remember the versus mode in games like Flying Warriors and Karate Champ?  That stuff soured me on 8-bit fighting games forever.

The Shredder is back in town so the Turtles decide to hold a contest to see who is worthy to face him in battle.  I just made it seem way more honorable than it really is.  Along for the ride are Casey Jones and Hothead, yet another Archie Comic’s creation.  They really liked dipping in that well it seems.  Konami made an admirable attempt at shoehorning typical fighting game conventions into an 8-bit box and they somewhat succeed.  However the various shortcuts necessary drag down the experience.

With a patry 7 characters the roster isn’t large so Konami wisely decided to only include the most popular choices.  Shredder, Casey Jones, and Hothead rub shoulders with the brothers and sort of function as boss characters since they are so damn overpowered.  Personally I would have included Splinter over Hothead but the bosses do bring some much needed variety.  You’ll appreciate their presence because the 4 Turtles are near identical.

Disappointingly all four Turtles are nearly the same leaving their signature weapons as their only distinguishing characteristic.  To have a large “volume” of moves in the game the 4 Turtles have identical move sets with only 1 unique to each of them.  Casey and Hothead do not suffer from this thankfully and are so bad ass that you’ll prefer them.  Blasphemy I know.  The button prompts are kept simple and are easy to pull off.  The fighting engine however is nonexistent; don’t bother trying to string together combos or any other advanced techniques.  This feels more like a beat em up and is heavy on the button mashing.  Like I said before, I’m amazed they were able to squeeze this much onto the humble confines of an NES cart.

And that also applies to the graphics.  With just 2 combatants on screen the fighters are larger than prior games and animate extremely well.  The special moves are about as flashy as possible on the NES all things considered.  The backgrounds also feature at least one layer of parallax scrolling as well which shows just how far Konami were able to push the NES.  However technical limitations do rear their ugly head whenever the more exotic special moves are performed in the form of flicker and slowdown.  As a whole though it is quite impressive.

When viewed through an 8-bit lens this is quite an achievement.  Unfortunately by the end of 1993 few still bothered with the NES, and with the likes of Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and nearly every Neo Geo fighting game ported to the 16-bit platforms the writing was on the wall if you needed a fighting game fix.  This was a valiant effort but ultimately a waste of time.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Tournament Fighters (SNES)

When you think about it, of all the obscure licenses that were turned into fighting games in the mid 90s the Ninja Turtles made the most sense.  Between the two comic book series and the cartoon there are a wealth of characters to throw down with.  While the Sega was a valiant attempt the SNES version was obviously created by a separate team and the gulf in quality is apparent.  This version is a viable alternative to the many versions of Street Fighter and resides in the upper echelon of SNES fighting games.

A tournament has been organized and the Turtles mobilize to stop their nemesis, the Shredder.  You don’t need any other reason to kick some ass so here we go.  Released around the same time as Street Fighter 2 Turbo Tournament Fighters is able to match Capcom’s classic in terms of features and modes and while the fighting engine isn’t as robust there are enough characters with varying play styles to keep you occupied for many hours.

10 Combatants make up the active roster with the 2 bosses hidden.  Of course the 4 brothers are present and accounted for and ready to kick some ass.  They never really specify whether the Shredder in this game is a cyborg or the original but considering Karai is the head of the Foot Clan in this game I’m going with the former (bow down to my knowledge of Turtles continuity).  And you know what, it doesn’t matter, he looks like the god damn Shredder and that should be enough for everyone.  The lone original fighter in the roster, Aska, looks similar to April O’Neil however the comparisons end there.  She has some sweet moves and an amazing battleground.

The rest of the roster is composed of lesser known aliens from the cartoon and the Archie comic.  Chrome Dome was featured in an episode of the cartoon but let’s be honest, no one remembers him.  War, Armaggon, and Wingnut all came from the Archie comic so unless you were seriously into all things green they might as well be original creations.  I don’t really have an issue with the rosters of these games but I do wonder why Konami were so adamant against using the more popular characters such as Bebop, Rocksteady, or even Leatherhead.  And what’s with the obsession with the Archie characters anyway?  I’ll stop before going off on a tangent.

Inject Street Fighter into the Ninja Turtles franchise and you have a good facsimile of this game. From the command prompts to some of the special moves it’s exact.   Although it is derivative the most important fact is it all flows.  Some deep combos are possible and with 10 characters plus 2 hidden there’s a wealth of content to explore.   The balance is slightly skewed in favor of the Turtles seeing as they have 3 special moves to everyone else’s two but not so much that the other characters are unplayable.  Before Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo this was one of the first fighting games to introduce super moves and as the name suggests they can change the outcome of a match in a heartbeat.  Some characters like Shredder fill up that meter faster than others but it’s counterbalanced by the lack of power behind their super moves.

Speaking of balance, compared to the rabid AI of the Sega version the computer here is dumb, easily susceptible to repeated patterns.  Although the lack of challenge might mean you’ll blow through the single player there is a story mode in addition to the generic tournament to plow through.  Plus you can always increase the AI level, the speed of the game and versus mode.  It’s a well rounded package overall.  Not bad for an original stab at the genre.

Whereas the Genesis game is dark and dreary the Super NES game is bursting with life.  This could easily have passed for an arcade game back in 1993.  The backgrounds are full of spectators with numerous cameos, ridiculous detail, and fabulous animation.  The super moves are suitably flashy which offset the flat backgrounds.  The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal; this is Konami at their prime.  A common “complaint” if you want to call it that is that the game is too bright and cheery; so what?  The graphics are amazing and don’t need to be dark for the sake of it.  Play the assy Genesis version if you need angst with your Turtles.

Tournament Fighters stands the test of time as a worthy fighting game in the SNES library.  It’s a worthwhile alternative to the Street Fighter games and honestly I prefer it to Mortal Kombat.  But I’ve never been the biggest fan of the MK games so take that as you will.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Tournament Fighters (Genesis)

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!  At least in the mid 90s they were.  From big publishers to small, everyone wanted a piece of the fighting game pie.  While some like SNK were able to make an entire cottage industry out of it (seriously, if you like fighting games the Neo Geo is an all you can eat buffet) most were simply ill equipped to make a decent stab at the genre.  In 1993 Konami chose to use their Ninja Turtles license to create 3 wildly different games for 3 platforms, which brings us to this Genesis version.  How does it fare?

Evil clones of the Ninja Turtles have kidnapped Splinter and taken him to Dimension X.  With no other choice the brothers set off in pursuit and bring April O’Neil, Casey Jones, Ray Fillet, and Sisyphus along as backup.  Based on the original Mirage comic book this version is darker in tone and as such truer to the franchise’s original incarnation.  While the attempt at differentiating this version is successful it fails in the most important aspect a fighting game needs: controls.  There’s a wealth of options to explore but if the game isn’t fun to play all of it is useless.

The 4 Turtles bring their signature weapons to the party and as expected utilize them in their special moves.  This ain’t your daddy’s April O’Neil however.  Able to kick butt with the best of them erase any thoughts of the useless damsel in distress from the cartoon.  Casey Jones…….I don’t need to say anything about.  It’s a dude with a hockey mask and sports equipment kicking ass, it speaks for itself.

You’re probably wondering who the hell are Ray Fillet and Sisyphus at this point.  In addition to the Mirage comic there was a second series published by Archie Comics, a series that first adapted the cartoon episodes but later created its own continuity.  More serious than the cartoon but not as adult as the Mirage series it introduced a large range of characters that were later added to the cartoon series and some of the games.  Regardless they do bring something different to the table although I’m sure most would have preferred some of the more popular characters instead like Bebop and Rocksteady.  8 characters is a small roster for a fighting game in 1993 but unfortunately the game has bigger problems than that.

Let’s start with the controls.  The six button controller had not seen release yet so gamers were stuck with the default 3 button pads.  3 buttons is adequate but not ideal for a fighting game however the 3rd button for whatever reason is used to taunt.  This wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that stronger attacks are performed by awkwardly pressing forward and attack at the same time.  Further frustration comes from the imprecise button commands.  Special moves are performed with a variety of inputs, from Street Fighter style half circle motions to Mortal Kombat’s simplified Forward, Back, Forward and such which is fine but executing most moves is an exercise in frustration.  Forget about creating any kind of combo’s as well; nearly all hits result in a knockdown or grant a second of invulnerability.  It feels more like a beat em up than a fighting game engine.

It’s a damn shame that the moves are so imprecise because you’ll need every edge possible to beat the vicious computer AI.  Make a mistake and you’ll surely pay for it due to the overly high damage ratios.  And it doesn’t let up either.  I highly doubt anyone will have the patience to complete the single player mode because it’s so unbalanced.  For anyone who has played Eternal Champions, this is one the same level.  If the controls were adequate at least you’d stand a fighting chance but that just isn’t the case.  There’s a wealth of modes and options to explore but when the core of the game is so broken only the staunchest gamers will stick with it.

By staying closer to its comic book roots the Genesis version of Tournament Fighter is suitably dark and meshes with the console’s strengths pretty well.  Each planet of Dimension X is distinct, with exquisite background detail.  The animation is almost to the same level but there are some weird pauses in between frames.  While the soundtrack isn’t memorable the voices are clearer than normal for a Genesis game.

Too bad the fighting engine is broken because otherwise this version of Tournament Fighters has some of the best production values for a Genesis fighting game.  The SNES version is the way to go if you want to experience Turtle fighting action.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the Hyperstone Heist


I never really thought about it but Sega owners back in the day must have been envious of Nintendo players when it came to Turtlemania.  Konami wasted no time exploiting that license in a wide range of products, exclusively for Nintendo.  This was a bitter pill to swallow, as the TMNT arcade games especially were stellar and were not ported to Sega consoles.  That drought would end in 1992.

TMNT: the Hyperstone Heist was released in the fall of 1992.  This was shortly after Turtles in Time had ended its arcade run and was ported to SNES.  April is reporting the news when suddenly everyone in attendance bears witness to the Statue of Liberty and the entire island of Manhattan disappear, the handiwork of Shredder.  Armed with the Hyperstones he challenges the Ninja Turtles to top him.

Although a somewhat original creation the gameplay is based heavily on Turtles in Time with some odd quirks.  All of the moves have been lifted wholesale with the exception of throwing enemies into the screen.  Dashing is now relegated to its own button which is a bit retarded compared to automatically sprinting after a few steps.  Body slamming enemies is noticeably more difficult to pull off, which is a bummer as the number of enemies can be a bit insane at times.  If you are at all familiar with any of the arcade games you can jump right in but it’s a shame that there were no original elements added to the game.

Look familiar?

That last tidbit extends to the rest of the game.   There are 5 levels divided into 3 sections each which seems shorter than Turtles in Time but ends up being about the same length.   The stages are longer to make up for the reduced number.  That would be well and good if not for the fact that 50-60% of the game is recycled material from previous games.  I mean literally exact.  Every level, with the exception of Shredder’s hideout are comprised of mostly recycled stages from Turtles in Time, resulting in disjointed transitions between segments.  For instance the second level begins with a surfing segment that moves onto a ghost ship taken from Turtles in Time, then ending in the caves from the Prehistoric level from that same game minus the dinosaurs.  Even the bosses with the exception of Tatsu fight exactly the same.  If they were just going to recycle so much content why not just simply port over the games they’re ripping from?  The game would have been much better served with new content to go along with the few original levels it has.

The game tries to mimic the aesthetic of Turtles in Time and largely succeeds. The only downgrades are the special effects and the reduced color palette.  The game is noticeably darker, and I think Konami were aware of that going in as the artwork in the cutscenes has a harder edge to it.  The music, sound effects, and voices on the other hand don’t fare as well.  You’ll notice a number of instruments missing in the recycled tracks but for the most part the tunes are recognizable.  The sound effects are horrible and very tinny, lacking the clarity of the SNES game.  The voices suffer the same way speech in most Genesis games did, that is to say very raspy, sounding like it was recorded underwater.

It’s disappointing that Konami didn’t create more new content to fully flesh out the game but strange segways aside it’s still good.  If you were a fan of the Ninja Turtles (honestly who isn’t?) this will float your boat.  You could certainly do worse, such as the Genesis version of Tournament Fighters.  Yikes.


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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV – Turtles in Time

Ah Turtles in Time. It’s a bit of an understatement when I say I spent illegal amounts of time playing it back in the day. The original Turtles arcade game was awesome, and in my mind that meant this would be too. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have an arcade or mom and pop store close by that had it, so my only chance to play the game came whenever my middle school would have a field trip to the roller skating rink. I spent more time playing the arcade machine than trying to hold hands skating with girls. Is that sad or embarrassing? Nah, I was enjoying myself and in the end that’s all that matters. My limited funds meant I never finished the game, at least not until the glorious SNES version was released the following year.

Shredder and Krang have stolen the Statue of Liberty, causing the Turtles to spring into action. What should have been a simple retrieval turns into a time hopping trip home.  Released in the summer of 1992 the home port was everything you could dream of and then some.  Arcade ports were nothing new, going as far back as the Atari 2600 but the 16-bit systems were very much at the point where you could in a lot of cases make an exact 100% arcade port.  While that isn’t the case here Turtles in Time had many additions that made the game a fuller experience.

Turtles in Time is largely similar to the original game in terms of graphics and gameplay. All 4 turtles had minor differences in terms of speed, strength, and reach although not to the extent where it makes much of a difference like in the original NES game. The game comprises 10 levels in the home version with 2 considered bonus stages. The journey through the game at first comprises the standard levels you would expect to see in a turtles game, but after level 4 (the Technodrome), you are sent hurtling through time. This allows the game to take you through a variety of set pieces, and avoid what I feel is one of the major banes of the beat em up genre: lack of enemy variety.  To a large degree the enemies consist of different colored foot soldiers, but each type has different forms of attack which you’ll be keen to recognize.  Most of the time periods introduce specific enemies for that era or environmental hazards that add to each stage’s unique feel.

Bucking the other trend in beat em ups, you have a large arsenal of moves at your disposal, something a bit uncommon in the genre. The two biggest additions to the game are the ability to throw enemies into the screen and to body slam them left and right, excellent for fighting multiple enemies at a time. A lot of the moves come across as fluff, but through trial and error you’ll find certain moves are more effective against enemy types. The dash covers ground faster and can lead into combos. These moves make you think about what is best in a given situation and also serve as a gameplay variant. Throwing an enemy into the screen gives you 3 points, while body slamming only gives two but can clear the screen when timed right. Every 200 points nets an extra life so decisions, decisions.

Graphically, the game is fantastic. The SNES color palette is put to full use and mimics the arcade admirably. New to the home version is the option to choose different color palettes for the turtles as well as an additional boss fight against Shredder in the Technodrome. Frames of animation are missing here and there but not to the extent where you’ll notice. The animation is otherwise excellent, especially the Turtles.  Literally every stage has some new effect that will have you in stitches. The soundtrack is very catchy and stacks up against the arcade machine pretty well. Some of the voice samples as well as the title theme song are missing though.

What we have here is not only an excellent arcade port but just an excellent game.  Konami, along with Capcom, made excellent licensed games during that era, with Turtles in Time continuing that trend. Even to this day I still bust it out and do a quick play through, which is truly the mark of quality.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: the Manhattan Project

TMNT III will always have a special place in my heart.  You see, the February 1992 issue of Gamepro is the very first gaming magazine I ever bought and this game adorned the cover, starting my magazine collecting habit that persists to this day.  And the game itself?  A pretty well done exclusive that refines the gameplay and serves to provide another round of beat em up action for those that enjoyed the original arcade game and its home port.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: the Manhattan Project was released for the NES in early 1992.  All work and no play can make even a ninja turtle a dull boy so our heroes take a vacation to Florida.  But evil never sleeps and Shredder uses this exact time to turn Manhattan into a floating island, giving the Turtles incentive to journey back to New York and save the day.

As much as I like the game I do question why Konami decided to create one last NES adventure so close to the release of Turtles in Time for the SNES.  To a certain extent TMNT III was lost in the shuffle as the SNES stole the spotlight in 1992.  Even today when most look back on the entire series it tends to get glossed over in favor of the popular port of the arcade game.  Regardless of the circumstances of its creation the Manhattan Project manages to add some new moves to alleviate the repetition inherit in the genre.  While it isn’t ground breaking it is enjoyable and recommended for anyone who has lost a small fortune to any of its arcade parents.

Across 8 levels of 1-2 player coop action you battle the forces of the Foot Clan, now with new moves in your arsenal.  You can use your weapon to toss nearly any enemy for an instant kill, with their dead bodies damaging anyone in their path.  The tradeoff for this comes in the form of fewer points.  Prioritizing when to take down the Foot one by one to maximize points or to chuck them around to avoid being overrun is key to survival.

Each Turtle has an individual special move that uses life and is optimal in different situations and with this more effort was made to individualize each Turtle.  Leonardo is the most well rounded with decent range and speed.  In a prescient move Leonardo’s special attack is similar to his Endless Screw in the SNES Tournament Fighters.  Raphael has the fastest attack speed but shortest range making him the most difficult to use.  His power drill would also be reused in that game.  Michaelangelo is slightly better but has a worse special attack.  Donatello has the longest range but is the slowest.  His special attack is a rolling somersault that is devastating against bosses.  Whenever you die you can switch characters, a nice touch.  There was nothing particularly wrong with TMNT II but you have to admit it became repetitive after awhile; these additions help ease that pain.

To counter this the game is just as hard as its predecessor.  Limited continues and no passwords mean you’ll have to stay on your toes at all times.  The enemies waste no time flanking you and swarming in groups; I guarantee you’ll be using that special moves regardless of the consequences.  Pizza is few and far between which is where maximizing your score for extra lives becomes crucial.  The bosses are just as punishing, and although there patterns are easy to recognize it’s the execution that will kick your ass.

The graphics are a noticeable step above TMNT II the arcade game with far better animation and more detail in the backgrounds.  While those elements are better some of the levels do feel a bit too reminiscent of past games; the highway, sewers and Technodrome in particular do feel like rehashes despite completely new layouts.  The music is excellent with numerous toe tapping jams It was 1992; Konami had the NES performing like a trained monkey by this point.

It’s too bad this was released the same year as Turtles in Time; no matter how well the game turned out it was always going to be overshadowed.  For anyone that took the time and gave it a chance it was an excellent continuation of the arcade games and provided the same thrills.  It can be bought very cheaply so there is no reason not to give it a try.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: the Arcade Game



After the crushing disappointment of the first Ninja Turtles game for NES Konami had to make it up to gamer’s big time.  What made it even worse: the first arcade game had been released around the same time, giving gamers the exact gameplay they were expecting.  So it makes sense that for the follow-up they would port said game and fulfills everyone’s wishes.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: the Arcade Game was released in 1990 to the delight of gamers everywhere.  A beat em up like Final Fight and Double Dragon, the arcade game was everything we expected and then some, featuring a never ending supply of cameos from the cartoon, 4 player co-op and your choice of Turtle, each with subtle differences.  I can remember spending illegal amounts of money playing the game every week with friends and strangers alike as I was fully entrenched in Turtle mania.  The NES port, while not arcade perfect is well done and succeeded in washing away any lingering memories the first game had left.

You’ll fight an endless supply of Foot Soldiers and other nemeses from the Ninja Turtles fiction as you make your way through each of the levels as your favorite Turtle.  The arcade game was better able to depict the differences between each character, with Donatello slow but powerful with insane range, Leonardo perfectly in the middle, etc. The home port makes all of the characters virtually all the same with the only object of note being their bandana color and signature weapon.

Aside from the enemies the world is littered with objects you can use to your advantage, such as fire hydrants, street signs, traffic cones, etc.  Normally fighting the same enemies over and over would quickly become boring but there are enough varieties of Foot Soldier that you never feel like you are going through the motions, with each type forcing you to switch up your tactics.  The bosses are exactly what you would expect: powerful, cheap, and true to the cartoon.  In every way the game was a treat for the fans.

Some changes had to be made to fit the game into the limits of the NES.  The – player coop is missing, limiting you to 2 players.   That comes as a mild blessing all things considered, I would hate to see what the game would look like if they even tried.  The levels have undergone surgery, removing some elements and extending their length for a longer lasting experience.  Obviously the graphics and voices have not come over fully intact, but the game is still a very nice approximation of the arcade game.  Most importantly it is a drastic leap in quality over its predecessor.  I really miss the speech from the arcade game; even though it was a bit sparse it added to the overall atmosphere.

As compensation for these changes are 2 original levels created specifically for this port.  Both are excellent and match the quality of the rest of the game and in my opinion even exceed it as they were designed around the NES’ limitations with excellent graphics and unique challenges that would have fit in perfectly with the arcade game.  The arcade game was a bit challenging which comes as no surprise since it was designed to suck quarters.  The home port evens the odds by offering more lives when you start, limited continues, and extra lives for every 200 points scored.  While it is still taxing it remains manageable.

So in the end would I recommend it?  With some reservations, yes.  Back in the day when the thought of owning the arcade cabinet was ludicrous this home port was everything you could ask for.  With the advent of more powerful hardware now you can buy an arcade perfect port for numerous digital download services and cheaply too.  The only thing on offer here are the original stages and as good as they are they aren’t worth the price of admission.  That’s not to say it isn’t worth playing, just that if you really feel like experiencing the arcade game in all its glory the option is there.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

In the 80s the Ninja Turtles were ……the shit.  From the comics to the cartoons to the action figures Turtle mania was in full effect.   The apex of it all came with the movie in 1989, introducing the “fad” to everyone in the nation.  At the crest of all this anticipation of the NES game was extremely high; it’s Ninja Turtles, how could they screw it up?  Somehow Konami found a way, breaking the hearts of millions of innocent kids like me back in the day.  This version of TMNT remains one of my biggest gaming disappointments of all time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released in 1989 for the NES through Konami’s Ultra games imprint.  A weird amalgamation of the comic book and cartoon series the game starts out as a simple rescue mission for April O’ Neil but then eventually dovetails into fighting Shredder in the Technodrome to restore Splinter to his human form.  Honestly they could have had the Turtles on a mission to save a McDonald’s bathroom from corruption and we would have happily ate it up.  Although this is primarily an action game it’s hard to pigeonhole the game into one genre since nearly every level features a different gameplay element.

Gameplay is broken down into two parts.  The overworld sections are top down as you explore each hub and its various sub-levels.  Until chapter 3 these only serve as bridges as you search the sub-levels for items and pizza.  You have your choice of any of the 4 turtles and can switch between them at any time.  Aside from their individual weapons they all have separate life bars, an important distinction. Your turtles function as your lives as once they are all gone its game over.  The strength and range of their weapons are the determining factor as to who you’ll use the majority of the time.  Sub weapons such as boomerangs and throwing stars can be found and are extremely powerful but have limited use.  You’ll be saving these for the bosses I assure you.

The game’s greatest strength comes in the variety in gameplay.   Every chapter features a hub but then offers something unique, such as the bomb defusing under the dam in chapter 2 or navigating the turtle van in chapter 3.  But despite all of this the game just wasn’t what everyone was expecting or looking for.

What the hell are some of these enemies?  Jesus Christ the source material had plenty of enemies ripe for inclusion.

The look of the game feels like it was a completely different product with the Turtles shoehorned in to sell extra copies.   The foot clan are barely recognizable and the regular enemies consist of a weird assortment of……I don’t know what the hell to call them.   You’ve got men on fire, frog men, jumping eyeballs, and mechanical contraptions that defy logic.  These all feel like something out of a Castlevania game.  There are cameos from characters from the cartoon, such as Bebop, Rocksteady, and the Mousers but those feel like token gestures to appease the fans.  The turtles license comes across as an afterthought.  But the biggest offender is the difficulty.

This game is hard.  Unbearably hard.  Right from the beginning you’ll see the signs.  Enemy placement is beyond retarded, with many situations forcing you to take a hit to proceed.  You have 4 Turtles but two of them are f*cking useless.  Save Donatello as he is the best character with the longest reach and destructive power.  If you find yourself stuck with Michaelangelo and Raphael you might as well quit.  There are very few opportunities to “rescue” a Turtle once they die and the game has limited continues.  Every chapter is gargantuan by NES standards with far too many sub-levels that serve no purpose other than to waste your time and resources.

You are given no direction, leaving you at the mercy of trial and error with each chapter a featuring a veritable maze of stages.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that a legion of gamers have never gotten past the dam and that’s only chapter 2!  That’s how hard the game can be.  Think of almost any frustrating gameplay element of the 8-bit era, it’s here.  Enemies respawn as soon as you scroll even inches off screen, most jumps have enemies waiting to knock you off a platform forcing you to backtrack, it’s borderline ridiculous at times.  There is nothing wrong with a decent challenge so long as it is fair.   I can’t say that about this game.

I bet 90% of you reading this are looking at the screenshots and saying “I didn’t know that was in the game!”  You’ll have to be a ninja or a savant like me  to reach these parts.

Don’t play this game and have your memories of the Ninja Turtles sullied.  Millions of us fell for it back in the day and suffered through the game just to play as the Turtles.  Sad but true.  You don’t need to do the same.  Konami wisely made better use of the license starting with the first arcade game, play that or its NES port instead.

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