TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project
Box Shot
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhatten Project
Platform: NES
Publisher: Konami
Designer: Konami
Genre: Beat-em-up
Players: 2 (Simultaneous)
Published Date 1992
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

I was an extremely big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was younger. I had played the first two NES Ninja Turtles games a ton, even though looking back, they really weren't all that good. When I rented the third game, I was getting out of the Turtle phase (growin' up, ya know), but was surprised at how much everything had improved over the previous titles. TMNT3: The Manhattan Project is no doubt the best of the NES TMNT games!

The title does not allude to the experiment regarding the atomic bomb. Instead, it's a wacky ass pun about the plot of the game: Shredder, the turtle's nemesis, has ripped Manhattan Island from the ground and skylifted into the air. As usual, the police are baffled (why are almost all policeman portrayed a buffoons in cartoons? You think at least SOME cities would have vaguely competant police departments, like maybe Chicago...but I digress) so it's up to the Turtles to save the day, and of course save the damsel in distress, April O'Neil, who was captured somewhere along the line.

The game actually starts down on the beaches of Florida, since the Turtles are technically on vacation. The first two levels take place just getting back to good old NYC. After completing the beach, surfing through the ocean and fighting on a battleship, you're taken to the floating island itself. Eventually you'll come across the Technodrome (I always thought it was underground...hmmmm) and defeat Shredder and save April. But that's not all! Shredder gets away and heads toward Krang's spaceship (for the unintiated, Krang is the brain of an evil warrior from Dimension X. He pilot this big robotic mandroid to move around and stuff.) Of course, you follow him, defeat Krang and fight Shredder once again before Manhattan returns to its spot down on the Earth.

The game actually plays much like TMNT2: The Arcade Game, which wasn't particularly great. It's a linear beat-em-up type game, with a constant barrage of enemies that much be defated before you move onto the next wave. But most of the gameplay problems that were prevalent have been fixed here. You can deliver two hits in succession (killing most enemies) without having to back off. You have a new move, accomplised by pressing Down and B which stabs a foot soldiers and send them flying over your shoulder. Finally, the jump n' slash has been replaced by a special move for each of the Turtles. In order to give variety, these moves change depending on who you're controlling: Leo will spin with katanas held down, Don will do a somersault, Raph will execute a flying drill spin and Mike does a backward handstand/flip. Each time you use this, you lose one bar of life, limiting the amount of times you can do this. When you're down to one bar of life though, its use is unlimited until you die. You have a score that increases depending on what method you use to kill each enemy...jump kicks and impalings give less points than using a normal attack, giving you an incentive vary to attack.

The enemies are pretty much the same: different types of foot soldiers that do various types of attacks (some baddies in the first level even throw sand in your eyes.) There are tons of bosses too, either appearing at the end of a level or somewhere in the middle. There's still a problem here in the early TMNT games... there are still a few bosses that you just need to keep jump kicking, and hope you have enough life to last them out, because they'll hit you no matter what. On the other hand, some of the other bosses (like Groundchuck the bull at the end of the second level) actually requires some sense of strategy to beat.

The graphics are very nice, typical of the last generation of NES games. The water moves nicely on the shore, the surfing level looks incredibly cool, and everything is very well detailed. The music, again, is very Konami-like, which is excellent. There are even a few digitized voices throughout the game, while the sound effects go along well with the game (that attack noise is still a bit irritating though.) The game controls just fine.

The game, by nature, is still a bit repetetive. You know, walk a bit, pummel some foot soliders before moving onto the next bunch of baddies. Occasionally dodge an obstacle like a falling sign, collapsing boardwalks or laser beams. But with the improved game mechanics and a bit more variety, it comes off infinitely better than its predessor. There's also a hidden option menu (input the Konami code, just reverse the B and A button presses) that allow you to choose an easier difficulty mode, choose lives, and change your starting level. This is one NES game that is definitely worth a look, especially if you're an old time Turtle fan.