NES TMNT “Trilogy”

While the world was going crazy for four mutated turtles trained in ninjutsu, plenty of merchandise came out to whet the endless appetite.  Among that merchandise were three separate games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  They don’t really connect to each other and only the second two share play styles, but they were still released as TMNT, TMNT II, and TMNT III.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

The first game was a bit of an odd game in a way.  It was divided into two game types, or one could perhaps argue three game types.  You start off with an overhead view of the game, traversing the map of the city while avoiding Foot vehicles that can crush your turtle in one hit.  I like to think of them as steamrollers.  On this map there are also foot soldiers who can be defeated with a single hit from the turtle of your choice.  You have access to all four of the brothers: Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael by just pressing start and selecting your turtle, then returning to the game.  This arguably lets you avoid dying by switching to a turtle, but there’s a downside to needing to do that…more on that in a moment.  As you traverse the city map, you’re able to enter different buildings or open manholes which takes you into a side-scrolling level where you fight through enemies and get from one location to another, fight mini-bosses, reach your objective (and boss), or possibly just find secondary weapons, items, life replenishing pizza, or rescue a captured turtle if you’ve “died” with one of them.

The problem with much of the game is that Donatello is practically the only turtle you have any business choosing.  He has arguably 2-4 times longer reach with his bo and on top of that he has the most powerful attack.  Leonardo has the second strongest attack, but the reach is still more limited.  Michaelangelo has even shorter reach and can’t attack downward and finally Raphael can’t attack downward, has essentially no reach at all, and is the weakest attacker.  With Raph and Mike being essentially useless, you’re crazy (or hardcore) to choose them over Leo or Don and even Leo is a bit crazier to choose than Don.  Though there are those with videos on YouTube who speedrun through the game without taking almost any damage as Leo.  Granted, using some characters in areas to allow yourself to get damaged and save your heavy hitters for later can make sense.

Do you play as your favorite, or the one the game encourages?

And if you do get hurt, what’s the solution?  Pizza.  Unfortunately, many times you’ll have to fight through enemies to get to that pizza, replenish your health, then….fight through all the enemies that have reappeared (and sometimes different sets have appeared) resulting in taking so much damage you’re back where you started or worse than you went in.

The third game type is just the second level. It’s still a side scroller more or less, but you swim around a maze-like level avoiding rotating bars (similar to Super Mario rotating fireballs) and electric seaweed to disarm some bombs. And you have about 2 minutes to do it.

The game doesn’t have the best register of hits and sometimes it feels like you need to be able to strike faster than your character is able to (unless you’re Raph, in which case you can attack faster, but you need four times the hits so you’re still going to get hit).  Unfortunately if you back up to buy yourself more space to attack without getting hit….the enemy you’re fighting will be there again when you move forward again.

There are six areas you play through and I don’t believe I ever got further than level 4 and even that was only once.  I think I got to the giant mouser, but no further. A friend’s brother got to Shredder within the Technodrome once as we watched when we were kids, though.  Part of the challenge of the game, growing up, was a lack of Internet guiding us where to go. By exploring different buildings without knowing where to you, you whittled yourself down as you lost turtles one by one until game over and you had 2 continues available total.

It’s a classic NES game….hard.  Very challenging, but with a good walkthrough and a bit of studying what to do, there are videos online of people completing the game in 30 minutes or so, so it is possible.  Your reward isn’t too great, though, other than “saving the world” and turning Splinter human again (who looks more like a beardless Chuck Norris more than a Hamato Yoshi).

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE ARCADE GAME

The second game released on Nintendo was an import of the truly classic TMNT Arcade Game, which consumed many a quarter in the 90s.

As well it should, for it was awesome.

 

For porting down to the 8-bit NES, the game is a decent translation of the game.

Too bad you’re limited to 2 players, though…

The game is entirely a side scroller beat-em-up.  It’s challenging enough with 2 extra lives and 2 continues along with an extra life earned every 200 points.  Unlike some beat-em-up games, when you hit an enemy, you can’t follow up with a few more attacks by mashing buttons.  The enemies seem to counter attack and you can trade blows back and forth, but you’ll burn you health bars quickly that way.  There’s a little bit of frustration with some of the enemies as you can sometimes jump kick them just fine, other times they’ll punch as your in mid-kick and be sent flying back.  Sometimes an enemy strike will just hit you, other times it will throw you back.  Don’t expect to finish the game on a full play through your first time picking it up, or even your first time returning to it if you were a TMNT II Ninja Master back in the day.  The game is arguably a bit easier on 2 player, and after all, this is a game that just cries out to be shared with a friend.  Still, the NES game is a lot of fun and won’t cost you a quarter to play….though it would be nice if you weren’t limited on continues (but that would shorten the game’s life span at the time of release).

The one thing that did make me laugh a bit during my 30th Anniversary play of TMNT II on NES…. Splinter looks more like a corgi than a rat.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a screenshot of him, but definitely reminded me of a corgi.

Nicely, you can pretty much choose whichever turtle you favor and won’t be impacted like you are in the first turtles game for NES.  So grab your favorite turtle and get out there and save your friends, and the city, or even the world!
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III: THE MANHATTAN PROJECT

The third, and final, game on NES was an original game utilizing the same play style as the arcade game import.

 

Ironically, Triceratons are not in the game.

TMNT III: The Manhattan Project plays much like The Arcade Game, a side scrolling beat ’em up using the same graphics, but with a few new abilities.  All turtles remain mostly the same with no true benefit to one over the other, though they do each have their own unique signature move.  Leo does a standing spin hitting any enemies around him.  Raphael does a torpedo attack, shooting forward towards enemies.  Mike does a sort of reverse hand spring kick. And Don spins forward in the air and comes down smashing his bo.  The attacks don’t seem terribly strong, but they are a bit better than normal attacks and Raph’s seems the most useful. However, each use costs one health bar.  All turtles now also have the ability to throw the foot soldiers, which results in a 1 hit kill in most cases.  Unfortunately other enemies, like the Rock Soldiers aren’t affected by this.

You start with 3 lives and 3 continues, but III seems more generous with extra lives.  That’s nice because I always felt, and still feel, like this entry seems a bit harder.   The first two levels aren’t too bad, but by the third you get two bosses in one level and after the first of the two you see your first health replenishment thus far in the game.  Much like TMNT II: The Arcade Game, however, The Manhattan Project is definitely better when you have a friend to play with.

Turtle Power!

 

Although all three games are rather difficult, they’re still fun and have their own charm. If you have the chance to play with a friend, I highly recommend it, and they’re the next best to thing to shelling out $1,000 for your own TMNT Arcade Cabinet in your home (though I highly recommend that if you can afford it as well).

  1. I always thought the first game had some good ideas to it (the top down map and sidescrolling combo) and great music. Too bad it was so poorly designed. I could get to the third world pretty easily, but I’ve never once made it beyond that. There is one tight jump in that part of the game that is nearly impossible to make without a huge amount of luck. My dream is that someone would do a remake like they did with DuckTales, except fixing up the poor collision detection, toning down the enemy respawns, and making the turtles better rounded.

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      • SwiftNinjaFox
      • May 10th, 2014

      I agree the first game had some interesting concepts and good music (though more tracks would be nice, it is a tad repetitive). A remaster would be very interesting, and I’d definitely like to have seen them with some differences. Raph taking more damage before losing life in exchange for his short range. Mike being able to knock enemies back a bit and having faster attacks. Don honestly should have been more rounded; having the strongest attack and longest reach was unfair and though Leo is normally the “overall best rounded” turtle, I think it would make sense to swap his attack power with Don’s due to the reach difference. Or Raph even be the toughest on damage and stronger on hits, but you risk getting hit due to his reach being so short. Definitely some cool ideas. Would love to see it remastered!

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