Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Box Shot
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Platform: NES
Publisher: Ultra
Designer: Ultra/Konami
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1989
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

Practically every adolescent boy that owned a Nintendo has at least played this game. The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game to hit the home systems is one of the most popular games on the Nintendo ever made (despite the fact that it was nothing like the arcade game around the same time. This was later made into TMNT 2: The Arcade Game.)

There are two views that dominate the game...the overhead adventuring screens and the side-view where most of the game takes place. In the overhead scenes, you explore the level, watching out for foot soldiers or street cleaners that can plow you over. Once you enter a building or a sewer, the action switches over. This is where you find various items or ladders to other parts of the level. It's an adventure aspect that works in well with the main game, even if some of the later levels (like the JFK airport) turns into a huge confusing maze.

The game starts in the streets of New York city. Each level has its own little goal...in the first level, you've got to rescue intrepid news reporter (and friend of our Ninja Turtles) April O'Neil. Further levels require that you defuse bombs by a dam or rescue the Turtle's van. Though only one player is allowed (somewhat disappointing) you can switch between each of the four turtles (Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo, for the people who don't know) at any time. So if one turtle is low on life, just switch to another. If one turtle runs out of life, they "captured" and can be found hidden somewhere in a level.

Everyone has their own weapons: Leo has a quick sword with a wide range, and Don has a far reaching and powerful, although slow Bo. Mike has quick nunchuks and Raph posseses almost useless Sais. There are other limited weapons to be found (shurikens, scrolls that shoot out waves, etc.)

The graphics are pretty typical of the Nintendo. While the overhead views are nicely done, the side views are grainy and not very detailed. The sprites, especially the bosses, also look pretty pathetic. The audio department isn't too bad. The music is the type that is catchy although gets on your nerves after repeated listening. The sound effect when a turtle gets hit is downright annoying though.

The biggest flaw in the game is probably the play control. The screen is often flooded with enemies, making Leonardo the only real capable turtle in hitting them all. Many enemies take more than one hits and with the sheer number of them, in some areas it's impossible to get past without getting hit. This isn't taking in account that annoying Konami tradition of sticking enemies right where crucial leaps must be taken, knocking you to the ground (except for the seaweed in level 2, there isn't much in the way of dying automatically.) The jumping is annoying as well. Everyone leaps incredibly high and very slowly. There are also many jumps that require that you get to the precise edge of platform and jump with the precise height in order to make it to the other side. One particularly annoying part is in the third level...there is tiny gap that must be crossed. Many people end up trying to jump over it, not knowing that you just have to walk over the pit, instead of leaping. Strange.

It's not only the play control, but it's also the general nature of the game. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles loses its fun after you've explored everything. It doesn't help that the game just looks repetetive...backgrounds are often used over and over, varying little. And much like Blaster Master, the game is sorely in need of a password system and unlimited continues, because it's just too long and difficult to play in one game. But that's not to say it isn't fun. Exploring levels is neat, not to mention running over foot soliders with the van. And while the side view scenery gets really repetetive, there are a few interesting segments (like swimming through the water to defuse the bombs...you've got to move fast and keep a steady finger so you don't run into seaweed.) Overall, TMNT is fun for awhile, but isn't something I'd play with great regularity.