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 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n' slash has been replaced by a special move for each of the Turtles.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